In conversation with Andrew Macleod

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Andrew Macleod
Credit Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

We sat down with Andrew Macleod, Founder & CEO at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta to discuss his vision for Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, his love for the City business and his admiration for other local City businesses.

Q. Could you share the story behind the creation of Emilia’s Crafted Pasta?

A. My story with Emilia’s began shortly after completing university. In 2016, at the age of 25, I opened our first restaurant, a project that came to fruition after two years of dedicated research and development, coupled with extensive travels throughout Italy. Growing up as a millennial who loved pasta, I often found myself wondering why there were so many burger and pizza-only restaurants, but an absence of pasta-centred restaurants. Dissatisfied with the pasta options available in London, I embarked on a mission to improve the experience of fresh, crafted pasta! My vision was crystal clear: to provide the best pasta experience outside of Italy at an affordable price point, encouraging people to make dining with us a regular & enjoyable tradition, just like Italians do.

Q. What inspired you to venture into the pasta business?

A. I have a lifelong appreciation for soul warming comfort food, particularly those that embody freshness & simplicity – principles that are deeply rooted in Italian cuisine. My love for Italian culture has been a constant throughout my life. During my university years, I dedicated many months to extensive travel throughout various parts of Italy, with a special focus on the Emilia-Romagna region, renowned as the birthplace of fresh pasta. My travels were not merely exploratory; they were a mission to understand the essence of exceptional pasta. I explored the science and geometry of diverse pasta shapes, discovered their ideal pairings with sauces, and drew inspiration from local chefs who passionately crafted recipes passed down through generations. These experiences later became the guiding principles of Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, where we celebrate the heart of Italian culinary traditions.

Q. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta emphasizes handmade, artisanal pasta. How do you ensure consistent quality while still retaining the traditional craft of pasta-making?

A. We prioritize top-quality ingredients, infusing each step of the pasta-making process with love and care from our chefs, all whilst adhering to standardized recipes and maintaining rigorous quality control measures.

Q. The menu at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta showcases a variety of pasta dishes. How do you decide on the pasta shapes and flavours to include, and do you have any personal favourites?

A. Selecting a favourite dish at Emilia’s is similar to choosing a favourite child – a challenge I’d rather sidestep, given each dish on our menu has its own unique charm! Instead, I would like to spotlight the care and detail behind our popular dishes. At Emilia’s, we emphasize the artful pairing of sauces with specific shapes, a concept we call the science behind our pasta. We believe that the weight, texture, and size of the pasta should complement the sauce. For instance, delicate long pasta like bucatini suits a simple olive oil, tomato base, or runny egg sauce, while the curves of ridged pasta, like casarecce, cradle delicate recipes such as homemade pesto. Our signature dish is a twist on a classic – a four-hour slow-cooked Béchamel Bolognese made heartier and creamier with fresh béchamel. Served with silky-smooth golden ribbons of egg pappardelle, this pasta shape captures the Bolognese sauce on every cm, creating a culinary experience that transcends the ordinary.

Q. Opening a restaurant in the City involves numerous challenges. What were some of the biggest hurdles you faced when starting Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, and how did you overcome them?

A. Opening a restaurant in Central London, whether in the city or elsewhere, always poses unique challenges. While we didn’t encounter any specific obstacles compared to our non-city-based restaurants, navigating through the complex landscape of councils, commercial considerations, legal requirements, resident concerns, and competition was never easy. However, overcoming these hurdles is all part of the journey toward creating a wonderful restaurant experience in the end!

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Credit Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

Q. Talk us through your unique techniques or ingredients used in crafting your pasta dishes?

A. Our pasta dishes are made from scratch every day start to finish and inspired from traditional recipes and techniques. The menu is used only using the purest of ingredients, all 100% natural, with some exclusively sourced from a handful of local and sustainable suppliers in Italy and locally.

Q. What do you love about having a business in the City?

A. Being nestled in the beating heart of the insurance, financial, and professional services sectors in the City of London feels special. The city’s pulse is fast-paced, yet it resonates with a deep sense of history, heritage, and charm. It’s a great mix of tradition with modernity & progress.

Q. Community engagement is key for many successful restaurants. How does Emilia’s Crafted Pasta connect with the local community and support its initiatives?

A. At Emilia’s, we believe that kindness breeds kindness. Our approach to community engagement centres on building relationships within the local community and supporting the local economy. We prioritize hiring locally, ensuring that most of our team members come from the community. Whenever possible, we source ingredients locally, and we actively collaborate with local tradesmen and small businesses. Furthermore, our restaurant interiors are thoughtfully designed to honour the history and heritage of the building and its surroundings.

Q. Which other Italian Restaurants in the City are you particularly fond of?

A. I must confess, I don’t dine out in the city very often, but when I do, you’ll always find me at Emilia’s!

Q. What are your visions and goals for the rest of 2024 for Emilia’s Crafted Pasta?

A. Over the past 8 years at Emilia’s, we’ve poured our hearts into crafting a special brand with care, dedication, and love. Recently opening our 4th restaurant in Baker Street marks a milestone, and with plans for our 5th by the end of 2024, our journey is just beginning. My dream is for Emilia’s to be a cherished and trusted brand, resonating with the pasta-loving generation I grew up with. We are committed to growing sustainably, ensuring that our teams, culture, guests, and product quality are never compromised. My dream for Emilia’s also extends beyond London and the borders of the UK. I can foresee Emilia’s restaurants gracing cities across Europe and beyond.

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