Angeli is 33 years old, and came recently to London from beautiful Tuscany, Italy, with a dream to run an Urban farming revolution here in the capital. To educate and awake an interest for restaurants and families to grow their own food and produce, and present real, and true, “from farm to table” concept even for smaller venues and private homes.
Thisisprogressive is always on the look-out for the ground breaking new stuff, not only in music, but in all aspect of our life, so this is project that TIP will be supporting fully, kicking off with a in depth interview with this chef and visionary. Later in the year we will be visiting Angeli as he seeks out inner city plating places, host dinner and supper clubs, and hopefully…opens his own restaurant. This the third part of our “Fresh Produce” series, and super fresh it is! What would taste better then eating a tomato or potato that you have planted the seed off!? Angeli gives us the lowdown of his passion and Urban Farming.
Why do you like food?
Since I can remember cooking food; growing fruit and veg, producing olive oil, wine and vinegar, had a very important role in my life.
My family still lives in the countryside, we have a forest behind the house and what we couldn’t grow on our own we caught in the wildness. So a lot of mushrooms in winter and a lot of fresh berries, wild fruits and herbs in summer. I miss the relationship between the relationships I had with nature out there maybe that’s why I started thinking about an urban farming gastro concept.
First culinary memory?
If I close my eyes I can still remember the smell coming out of my grandma’s kitchen… tomato sauce .I loved waking up with an urge to eat fresh baked bread and this magic red liquid. I still remember my grandma shouting at me to leave some for the Ravioli, naturally homemade.
Why did you want to be a chef?
I grew up without any precise direction about what my job or how my future were going to be, becoming a chef was a natural process. This job found me and I found a way to be satisfied.
Where did you study?
I didn’t really study anything, I basically just wanted to cook. I ended up leaving university to work in a prestigious restaurant in Milan, it was hard work but the experience was so valuable. That was really the moment I realised I could do this for a living and enjoy it.
What is so great about Italian food?
It’s food that makes us Italians famous all over the world and the butt of a joke every time. If I meet a lady, it takes about three seconds before she starts to make a joke about my origin.
Italian food is like the way we dress, we always think we look better. It’s tradition to have a lot of good food at any kind of event albeit an engagement, a birthday or even just getting a good grade on our maths homework, there is so much pride to have good food.
Italy is a very narrow long country, and each region has particularly own recipes…..starting in the cold of the Alps ending in the warm shores of Sicily
Tell us about one traditional dish?
Tuscany recipes are based on very poor ingredient like cabbage and legumes wild hunted animals like boar’s hares, pheasants.
A very traditional dish is the boar with buckwheat polenta and rosemary or just tagliatelle with hare ragout stewed in red wine, but cod with vinegar and tomato sauce is a traditional dish as well.
I recommend, if someone take a trip in Tuscany, to go and eat there, places where to you in your life never imagine to eat. Take a drive to the sea or to the highest peak you can reach has no price for the eyes and the mouth: we have sea and mountains in the same time so you can choose between a very big scale of ingredients and flavours, it’s up to you.
If you have to tell us about your favourite dish?
I love to cook everything, I swear, but if I have to choose I prefer the dishes I never cook, cooking is very stimulating and the same dish can taste different every time you prepare it.
The most challenging dishes remain in my opinion Risotto and pheasant.
Risotto should be creamy cause of the starch it contains and the bird has not to be dry …I had problem in the past to make it juicy and tasty.
So you’re a big fan of greens, which is the most useful and versatile vegetable?
In my opinion the Tomato, as a good Italian is a god for me. You can always choose its destiny, row, blanched, dried, or just cooked, you can prepare it in salted and sweet dishes….it is the number one.
Do you have a British favourite dish?
If I had to be honest I just say that I am in London since 10 weeks, it is a very short time and I have to make me my personal ideas. English make wonderful burgers, this is sure!
You are very passionate about urban farming, can you describe your culinary dream?
I would love to find an place where people share their desire to make their hands dirty in order to get more consciousness about the time and the place we are living in….I would like to group together people with different ages and different backgrounds but this people should have just one target save the planet improving their quality life, eating fresh of course and spending time to plant and grow what they prefer. What I would like it to create a proper urban farming restaurant where the kitchen and the garden have the same importance.
When asking Angelo about the positives about self-growing and Urban farming, he gave us this:
Your grocery bill will shrink as you begin to stock your pantry with fresh produce from your backyard. A packet of seeds can cost less than a dollar, and if you buy heirloom, non-hybrid species, you can save the seeds from the best producers, dry them, and use them next year. If you learn to dry, can, or otherwise preserve your summer or fall harvest, you’ll be able to feed yourself even when the growing season is over.
Reduce your environmental impact. Backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution, for example. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket.
Get outdoor exercise. Planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting add purposeful physical activity to your day. If you have kids, they can join in, too. Be sure to lift heavy objects properly, and to stretch your tight muscles before and after strenuous activity. Gardening is also a way to relax, de-stress, center your mind, and get fresh air and sunshine.
Enjoy better-tasting food. Fresh food is the best food! How long has the food on your supermarket shelf been there? How long did it travel from the farm to your table? Comparing the flavour of a home-grown tomato with the taste of a store-bought one is like comparing apples to wallpaper paste. If it tastes better, you’ll be more likely to eat the healthy, fresh produce that you know your body needs.
Build a sense of pride. Watching a seed blossom under your care to become food on your and your family’s plates is gratifying. Growing your own food is one of the most purposeful and important things a human can do—it’s work that directly helps you thrive, nourish your family, and maintain your health. Caring for your plants and waiting as they blossom and “fruit” before your eyes is an amazing sense of accomplishment!
Stop worrying about food safety. With recalls on peanut butter, spinach, tomatoes and more, many people are concerned about food safety in our global food marketplace. When you responsibly grow your own food, you don’t have to worry about contamination that may occur at the farm, manufacturing plant, or transportation process. This means that when the whole world is avoiding tomatoes, for example, you don’t have to go without—you can trust that your food is safe and healthy to eat.
Reduce food waste. When it’s “yours,” you will be less likely to take it for granted and more likely to eat it (or preserve it) before it goes to waste. For sure I think it is possible all what we need is a great sense of respect about what we and the other do….I lived in Germany my last 8 years and there the people realised how is important to start this movement, especially the citizens of Andernach in norh Germany they create a city where the flowers you can see on the street or in a square are the flowers of edible plants…..Amazing!(got also a foto-doc if you need)
But is it possible to grow without garden?
As it turns out, with pretty minimal effort, anyone can be a gardener. If you are a first-timer this season and so far have the beginnings of strawberries peeking out, tomatoes are on their way, the basil’s about ready for a big batch of pesto, and once the last frost hits, the peppers, kale, spinach, chard, and mesclun will be on their way, too. All on a tiiiny little terrace.
Potatoes for example come very tasty if you plant them in rice bags made of jute, but everything more or less is collectible if you invest some time and passion…it’s worth it.
What can our readers can do to spread the message?
The type of message that I would like to send is to get your hands dirty, cultivate land and live outdoors.
I find ornamental plants beautiful to look at but futile, if we look from the perspective of a future with more and more people and less food. In short, the food in the world we are living in, is the problem but also the solution. in times like these … where money is king, the food must be calculated by those who go to the grocery store and often throw in the cart shoddy products that are already ‘pre-cooked because you do not have time or desire to cook, but I tell you one thing to grow your own food as it will print out your money. The potential for urban farming is tremendous because, from an economic analysis, it means that working class urbanites are able to make livings for themselves in locations traditionally too polluted or crowded to grow food, they can do so even while the labour market remains poor.
Everything you need to eat what you are growing is knowledge to plant and to prepare….So contact me or your grandma to learn more about a sustainable life.
But we have to start from our small community to spread the message starting with your neighbours….everybody could eat from the street…but it has to be said that sustainable doesn’t mean at all it’s for free, with respect and after seeding everybody can have the pleasure to do something for this new sustainable way to see and understand the world.
How can we help?
My Facebook page is called ‘M keeps on Cookin ‘