Meet the couple creating immersive food and drink experiences in Tuscany.
SUM UP WHAT YOU DO
Oli: We hold gastronomy trips in a medieval village in the hills of Tuscany for people who are interested in learning about cooking and artisan food production. From learning how to make fresh pasta and gnocchi to meeting wine and cheese producers to going fishing – they’re designed to take you to foodie heaven.
DO YOU HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE?
Oli: Flo runs a lot and we both try to meditate occasionally as its great for creating a mindful state. We’re both busy so it’s important to create the right mindset to tackle all these things in a positive way.
Flo: First things first, a cup of coffee, then I walk Frank, our sausage dog. I find that reserving the time to walk and be in contact with nature helps to bring a bit of mindfulness for my day ahead.
WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?
Oli: When we’re working it makes me really happy to see people enjoying food and learning from the different things we put on – it’s great to see that all coming together. We live among nature here in Tuscany and we’re tucked away and that makes me very happy, too – it’s a very quiet place.
Flo: Two words – wine and cheese!
“It makes me really happy to see people enjoying food and learning” Oli
WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOUR FRIENDS USE TO DESCRIBE YOU?
Oli: I’d say warm, passionate and adventurous.
Flo: Rebellious, caring and fun-loving.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Oli: I’m inspired by artisans – skilled people who do things with a lot of love and pride.
Flo: I’m a triplet, so I’d have to say my mum is my biggest inspiration. She dealt with the massive task of looking after the three of us (we were quite a handful!) whilst holding down a full time job and dealing with life’s setbacks. She did it with such grace and always with a smile on her face.
“We want Cook Eat Discover to become a platform for empowerment and social good.” Flo
WHAT PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD DO YOU WANT TO SOLVE?
Flo: I would change the lack of care and support provided to refugees fleeing their countries. We spent some time in Calais volunteering to help with the refugee crisis running a community kitchen that fed thousands of people everyday. After which, I went on to Paris and set up a small NGO ‘Solidarithé’, which empowers homeless refugees arriving in the capital and sleeping on the streets. The refugee crisis is something that I am and will continue to be heavily invested in. In the future, we want Cook Eat Discover to become a platform for empowerment and social good.
Oli: Food has always been my thing and we set this concept up because food has become very industrialised; we’re draining the planet of its resources and the way we produce food is becoming increasingly unhealthy. The people we work with on this project inspire me because they’re unwilling to make sacrifices or lose their dignity in order to just make more money, which is really important.
PLENTY OF PEOPLE HAVE IDEAS. HOW DO YOU GO FROM IDEA TO EXECUTION?
Flo: You just have to take a leap of faith try things in order to know if they will work or not. Don’t overthink or give into fears!
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE MOST LISTENED-TO TRACKS RIGHT NOW?
Oli: Mt Wolf – “Life Size Ghosts (Catching Flies remix)”, Samori I – “Rasta Nuh Gangsta”, Roy David Jr – “Gabriel”.
Flo: Steve Monite – “Only you – doing it in Lagos”, MJ Cole – “Sincere”, El Guincho – “Bombay”.
WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Oli: I’ve just finished a book by Jay Rayner called “A Greedy Man in a Hungry World”, which is about the food industry and food security in the future and how were going to feed anyone in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet, which is exactly what we’re all about.
Flo: “The Colour Purple” by Alice Walker.
WHAT’S YOUR PERFECT ENVIRONMENT FOR INNOVATION?
Oli: Where we are is pretty perfect. Half the year we live in London and we feel suffocated there but in Italy there are few people and lots of nature, so it gives us the room to figure out how to run our business. By putting ourselves in a space we love, we can work out how to make a really good product.
Flo: When I’m well rested and among nature or when listening to music (loud).
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Oli: When we started, we were very concerned about the customers emotions and you want them to have a good time and we wanted to make sure the retreats were perfect for people.
Flo: I’m afraid of not seeing all the parts of the world that I want to see before I die.. oh, that and small spaces and tiny small staircases!
WHAT’S THE LEAST SUCCESSFUL THING YOU’VE DONE? WHY DO YOU THINK IT FAILED?
Oli: We’re still in the early stages of our start-up and in the ideation stages we tried to do too much. I think we burnt ourselves out a little bit but since then we’ve learnt to find balance.
Flo: I am quite afraid of driving! Definitely something I am working on!!
WHERE ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO TRAVELLING TO NEXT?
Oli: We’re thinking about travelling to Mexico this coming winter. In future we’d like to do a similar type of thing to what we do in Italy but in other countries, so we’ll do some travelling with a bit of a research element to it.
Flo: I am so excited! I’ve always been drawn to the colours and sounds of Mexico, not to mention the the food!
WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE THINGS YOU WON’T TRAVEL WITHOUT?
Oli: When I think travel, I think reading and music so a good book – that’s important – and a good pair of headphones. And also the right kind of mindset – an open mind and a hunger to meet people and understand where you’re going.
Flo: Good speakers/headphones and a practically empty suitcase (to bring back lots of treasures) my Gold notebook / pilot ballpoint pen – this never leaves my side, I need to write ideas down all the time – it’s how I make sense of it all!
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO CROWD-PLEASING DINNER?
Oli: I’ve been making a lot of filled pasta and a real crowd-pleaser is a cardinale stuffed with mascarpone and gorgonzola so when you cut it open it’s got molten cheese inside, served with a red wine sauce.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS WHEN RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL EVENT OR RETREAT?
Flo: Great food and drink, good music and attention to detail.
“By putting ourselves in a space we love, we can work out how to make a really good product.” Oli
NAME ONE INGREDIENT YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT AND WHY?
Oli: Whether you’re catering for vegetarians or meat eaters, you can usually win with cheese – any kind of mature cheese is good, especially in Italian cooking – if you don’t have cheese you’re in trouble!
WHERE ARE YOUR MUST-VISIT PLACES IN TUSCANY?
Flo: Lucca is stunning. I would definitely recommend visiting. And I’d really recommend visiting the Maremma region where we run our retreats for its natural undiscovered beauty.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DEATH-ROW MEAL?
Oli: Again I’d go for a pasta. In my region of Tuscany they eat a lot of pappardelle and they always have it with a wild boar ragu and that’s something I dream of regularly.
WHAT TIPS HAVE YOU GOT FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK THEY CAN COOK?
Oli: Most of the time, people who can cook are those who cook more – if you don’t cook you won’t get better. Like cycling or football, you have to practise it to get better. And you have to start somewhere – like boiling an egg – and then get a feel for it.
DESCRIBE THE PERFECT BREAKFAST AFTER A BIG NIGHT OUT.
Oli: A Full English basically. One thing I miss in Italy is the concept of a savoury breakfast and whenever I come home I’m desperate for eggs, bacon mushroom and beans – all of it.
WHAT’S THE ONE THING IN TUSCANY THAT VISITORS CANNOT LEAVE WITHOUT TRYING?
Flo: This is such a hard question to answer because everything is so delicious! If you are by the sea you must have fritto misto – lightly battered and deep-fried seafood.
If you’re into good wine, I would recommend a delicious Brunello from Montalcino. My favourite pasta dish would have to be filled pasta with a simple butter and sage sauce. So simple yet tasty.
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