2017 marks the 10th year of Eataly – the celebrated Italian marketplace, which Oscar Farinetti first opened in Turin and now spans 35 locations globally. We spoke with U.S. CEO Nicola Farinetti about authentic Italian food and the store that’s taking the world by storm.
- Tell us a bit about the Eataly story and philosophy.
Italy is beautiful in that all the ingredients are very seasonal and specific to the region they are grown in, but it also means some products that are easily available in Sicilia may not be available in Piemonte. My family had the idea inspired by the bazaars of Istanbul to create one place that houses the best regional ingredients from across the entire country. So, in 2007, we built the first Eataly in Torino in an old vermouth factory, and the concept stuck.
Since then, we’ve grown worldwide with more than 35 locations in countries across the globe from Brazil to South Korea. Even with all the rapid growth, our easy-to-grasp philosophy has always been the same: “Eat. Shop. Learn.” We give everyone who walks through our doors a 360˚ experience that allows them to not only eat authentic Italian food in our restaurants and cafes, but also shop for those same carefully sourced ingredients to take home, as well as learn about the stories about the people behind the products, and about Italian food and drink in our classes!
- Why do you think Eataly has become such a global success?
There are many reasons, but first is good timing. We are living in a time when people are more aware of and more interested in what they put into their body, and educating people about the importance of nourishing your body well and using only the best-quality ingredients has always been Eataly’s priority. Second, traditional Italian food is not only delicious, but also healthy, and even more important, replicable at home. This means our customers can not only eat good food in our restaurants, but also shop in the market for those same products to make at home. Third, we are pushing experiential retail, which makes the shopping part more enjoyable, which then makes it easier to spend more time at Eataly.
- What makes authentic Italian ingredients so special?
Italy is unique in that it’s a very narrow and long country in the middle of a nourishing sea, so the entire country has incredible biodiversity due to the climate. This means we can enjoy, grow, and create amazing products that can have an individual quality that is specific only to their specifics region/cities.
- Can you explain how Eataly’s buyers source products?
Eataly follows the Slow Food mantra of “good, clean, and fair.” Only products that fall in line with this ideology make it onto our shelves and into our restaurants. Each product must first must be good in terms of being high quality, flavoursome, and healthy. Second, the product must be clean for the body and environment, meaning no preservatives, no added colors, and no chemical alteration. Third, the product must be fair in that it needs to be priced accessibly for consumers and made under fair conditions and pay for the producers.
- Which Italian product or ingredient can you not live without?
It is impossible to choose just one! First and foremost: pasta. I can’t live without it and despite what people say, it is a very light meal when made the traditional way. Second I would say mozzarella. I also cannot go without prosciutto. Oh, and did I mention wine? I must have wine.
- What’s your favourite Italian food memory?
My favorite Italian food memories come from the Christmas season. One thing I love about my family and culture in general is that all our celebrations revolve around food. Christmas has always been the one day of the year where my mother really shows off her culinary skills and new ideas in the kitchen. It’s also the day that my father opens the rarer bottles in his collection, that otherwise are not allowed to be opened!
And while Eataly may have successfully won over Italy and the U.S. …. Canada is up next! The beloved Italian food marketplace is expected to open its first Canadian location in 2019, beginning with Toronto. Keep on the lookout for fresh, specialty products and an abundance of authentic Italian groceries.