My two weeks at MIT are over. The time flew by. We talked to people, presented our ideas and received positive feedback. Day by day, we developed a clearer idea of our concept.
During this time, we also received our first extruder machine: our little “Monferrina Dolly”. The Dolly machine allows me to push my experiments to the extreme. The strength of the machine is such that the starch molecules of the different flours I use assume a structural role in place of the gluten. Our nutritionally balanced pasta is now at a point that was hard to imagine just a few weeks ago. It feels good to see that the months spent experimenting our flours mixes are finally coming to fruition. Our pasta has 25% less carbs, three times the amount of fibers and 50% more proteins compared to the normal pasta. The flavor is complex, nutty and sweet. It is never boring and always intriguing, like savoring a glass of red wine. When I taste our pasta I like to close my eyes as I do when I taste a newly open bottle of Chianti. Why I close my eyes only with the Chianti wine? It is the wine of my region, the one I grew up with, the wine that flows in my veins, and the only one that starts an emotional reaction inside myself when I drink it. My pasta is the same, the flavor is pleasant and very distinctive from anything else I have tried before. It is about the people that produced those flours, and of the soils that nourished those berries gently grounded in flours and powders. It represents my cooking. My Italian heritage is only the start, on top of that I add skills, experience, techniques and ingredients unheard back home, skills that I had the luck of learning during my many trips around the world. In the same way our pasta starts with the Semolina from the best durum wheat available as in the Italian tradition, but incorporates flours from different part of the world, each adding a particular nutrient and flavor to the final product. Pasta 2.0.
We run user tests and focus group to confirm that our product was what people want. We iterated based on the feedback and we will continue to do that to improve the product and adapting to the modern palate and lifestyle.
It seems like everyone wanted to be part of our testing, unfortunately the time was limited, as were our flour supplies. We got the final confirmation that we have something potentially big in our hands. Incredibly people are already asking if we can ship our pasta to the east coast. The judges of the two panels competition at MIT showed strong interested in our product and they got excited about it after tasting it. The main feedback from the two panel was: “Forget about the restaurant and go and sell fresh pasta to restaurants and groceries”.
It was not easy to defend our idea of a fast casual restaurant based on pasta, but this is what we are passionate about. We remain fully committed to start the first Italian Fast casual chain, but I won’t be surprised if you will find our fresh pasta, the same that we will use in our stores, at your local supermarket or at the restaurant down the road. To give a bigger contribution to society and to help spreading a healthy Mediterranean diet among the population we have to be easily available to everyone. I envision professionals coming to our store for lunch and going to buy our pasta to the local grocery so that they can share the advantages of our products with their family once home.