We chat with Alessandro Savelli, Founder and MD of Pasta Evangelists about how they bring centuries of artisan tradition and craftsmanship in the form of Italian pasta fresca, sauces and garnishings to homes across the UK. Their mission: “Pasta makes everything feel better, so why not make pasta taste better?” And so began the journey..
How and when did the Pasta Evangelists venture begin?
Pasta Evangelists was born in 2016 because I wanted to bring the traditional pasta fresca I grew up eating in Italy to the British market. It all began with 30 portions of fresh gnocchi with homemade pesto alla Genovese, a sauce I pretty much grew up on back in Italy, which I hand delivered to friends and family...
I was quietly confident because I thought I had identified a gap in the market. I noticed several waves of “premiumization” in burgers, ice cream, pizzas and coffee as people increasingly wanted better, more premium products - yet pasta hadn’t evolved in the same way. But also, importantly, it’s a product I feel passionate about. I actually started Pasta Evangelists, quite literally, the day after the closure of my previous venture (a luxury smartphone business) and I was very keen to make sure my next business would be a product that felt personal and part of my culture.
Certo. I am Italian and I have Italian food every day! As far as pasta goes I eat it for lunch or dinner most days, and our team does weekly tastings together with our talented chefs to develop new recipes and try exciting, original combinations of ingredients. At the moment, I am loving our new vegan range. We have a Pea & Mint Triangoli with Wild Rocket Pesto which is light and fresh, very delicious.
I wouldn’t say we have a ‘secret ingredient’ as such. I think the key to delicious pasta is only using the freshest ingredients and, where possible, choosing the most seasonal ones. Of course this isn’t a secret at all - freshness is at the centre of our vision and we’ve always been open about that. I’d say that, actually, much of the charm of Pasta Evangelists comes from the variety we offer which is enabled by the many creative collaborations we forge. We work with amazing PDO Italian producers, such as Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano, and high-end UK-based heritage brands, such as H.Forman & Son Smoked Salmon, Clarence Court eggs and La Fromagerie, to craft our pasta fillings, sauces and garnishes.
Both! What’s amazing about pasta is that we can engage people in the whole journey, from making the sfoglia (pasta dough) to choosing ingredients for the fillings to feasting together on a delicious, fresh meal. We have definitely seen an increase in demand for our masterclasses, especially around this time of year as people want to gift their loved ones with experiences. At the moment our classes are all online so you can enjoy them from the comfort and safety of your own home. They are also a great way to spend time with your team. We’re seeing huge demand from companies who are looking for something interesting and interactive together (from afar)...
Very much so. As a nationwide business, offering home delivery of a product that quickly became hard to find in the supermarket, COVID forced us to scale up very quickly. Our business quadrupled in the first few months of the pandemic which was a blessing for us and is something we are very grateful for. And as local lockdowns continue, we are trying to do our bit to raise spirits across the nation – be that through our pasta deliveries or with uplifting experiences, such as our online cook-alongs. Charity has become an even more integral part of our business this year, and we have launched partnerships with the likes of Age UK, Mind, Save the Children and FareShare to support those most acutely affected by the pandemic.
As well as growing our online business, we hope to continue expanding our offline channels. These include our Deliveroo kitchens and our fresh pasta concessions with UK retailers. Currently we are in Harrods and M&S and we hope to open more counters across the UK next year. Beyond that, it's top secret I'm afraid...
Recipe kits are not as popular culturally in Italy. Italian families prefer to cook totally from scratch. However, in terms of the quality and freshness of our products, the artisanal techniques and the amazing Italian ingredients, I could see Pasta Evangelists products being very popular in Italy. Nothing makes me happier than when we get amazing feedback from Italian customers in the UK who tell us it reminds them of the fresh pasta they eat back home.
That would have to be our Pappardelle with Beef & Barolo Ragù or our Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto!