August 23, 2016
Yummy Italy! What More Do You Need?
What Italian word does nearly everyone know? Mangia! Eat! We all associate Italy with the cuisine of Italy. If you love to mangia, enjoy the following interview and photos!
I had the good fortune of meeting Helena Kyriakides, the founder of Yummy Italy, in person just 2 months ago. We had conversed over social media for a few months as I searched for other businesses who, like Take Me Home Italy, provide a personal, customized adventure in Italy. There are so many businesses out there that can give you that overall visit to Italy. However, the excellent, real experiences are rare. Yummy Italy is one such business that I am very proud to recommend and to work alongside.
Helena showed me the beauty of Emilia Romagna with her enthusiasm, her knowledge and her taste. Not only is she a great organizer, a foodie, a Slow Food Movement Member, but also a Sommelier who can explain why specific wines work with each course of the meal.
Thanks to Helena, I experienced a 5-star meal at Antica Moka. You will see photos of the meal throughout the following interview.
1)Helena, please tell me about the philosophy of your business, Yummy Italy. And how long have you been in business?
I have been in business with Yummy Italy for just over two years. The philosophy behind Yummy Italy is to clarify all those clichés surrounding Italian food - predominantly around those dishes that are known the world over such as Lasagne, Tortellini, Spaghetti Bolognese (which doesn't exist), Tagliatelle, etc which have all been completely bastardized.
Yummy Italy's aim is to share Italian culinary authenticity, educate food lovers about genuine Italian food and, most importantly, link all these incredible dishes and PDO and PGI certified products (and some of the amazing artisan products) with the region of Emilia Romagna.
Yummy Italy is a kind of food and wine ambassador for the region on a private level. I would love to create a link in the minds of food lovers that most of Italy's most famous products and iconic dishes actually come from Emilia Romagna.
2) What did you do before and how have your past experiences helped you be even more effective in Yummy Italy?
My past experience lies both in the food and automotive industries. After I graduated I worked as Marketing Assistant to the chairman of the famous sandwich chain Pret a Manger in London. Julian Metcalfe, my boss, was totally obsessed with seeking out only the best products for his shops and he taught me to select the best artisan producers, how to taste food and drink, how to compare products based on a set criteria and, most importantly, to only seek out the best and not settle for anything less.
After that I worked for a huge food multinational in Switzerland. I learned more about marketing food and the organization of food-based events.
When I moved to Italy I started working for Automobili Lamborghini as International Event Manager. This was a great experience not only with regard to the unique iconic product that I lived with on a daily basis, but also because it taught me to be extremely flexible. I organized events for anything from 2 (multi-billionaires) to 4000 people and there was no room for error. Excellence at all levels and no compromises. While I was organizing events there I always sought out the finest chefs and best products fromEmilia Romagna to cater the various events, so this already 'trained' me for seeking out the artisan producers and chefs who now work with Yummy Italy.
3) What is it about Emilia Romagna that you appreciate the most?
I am always amazed at how humble the people from Emilia Romagna are. There is an overwhelming sense of doing the best that they can do simply because 'that's way they do things'. Excellence in all its forms is the keyword.
There are so many amazing products that come out of the region. Think of the 43 and counting PDO and PGI food products, think of the world's most incredible luxury cars and motorbikes (Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani, Ducati, Moto Morini) and so much more.
I think what most made me appreciate the people of Emilia Romagna was after the 2012 and 2013 earthquakes when thousands of Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico warehouses (and other businesses) were destroyed. The people here just rolled up their sleeves, found ways to sell of the ruined products and many dairies and Balsamic producers and other industries have started from scratch. No complaints, no self-pity.
The people also know how to appreciate what they have - when the largest white truffle weighing nearly 1.5 kgs was found in the winter of 2014 (now featured in the Guinness Book of Records), rather than selling it off at auction to a Chinese or Russian millionaire or seeking world fame, they organized a charity dinner and ate it themselves. This could only happen in Emilia Romagna.
4) What is the most unusual travel arrangement you created for your clients?
I think the most unusual requests have come from Chefs and food professionals. One food buyer from Germany asked to benchmark Parmigiano Reggiano - so we went on a discovery of the different types made from milk of the various cows in the region, from the Modena White Cow, to the Red Cow from Reggio Emilia and the Brown Cow from Modena.
A chef wanted to do a Lasagne 'eatinerary' where he wanted to eat Lasagne in several restaurants in Bologna. Chef would then select the best and carry out a short internship in that particular restaurant. He wanted to do the same for several dishes. I love these requests because they help satisfy the clients' demands as well as helping me to grow.
Sometimes things become unusual by themselves because I work with some very unique suppliers and producers with very distinct personalities More often than not we start off with an 'ordinary' experience which then becomes an 'extraordinary' experience based on the interaction with them and Yummy Italy's guests.
5) What is it that makes Yummy Italy better than a common tour?
Yummy Italy's activities are not tours. With Yummy Italy guests have experiences. I love to find the right supplier for the right activity - so I actively fit together the type of guest I believe I am dealing with matched with a certain type of supplier so that a true bond is created.
Yummy Italy brings people together. The idea is to create unique itineraries and experiences with small artisan producers with whom guests can connect not only when they are here, but also long-term. I love that Yummy Italy's guests keep in touch with our suppliers after they leave because an emotional bond has been created.
I want people to feel that they are enjoying and making the most of what they are doing in this very moment. We start out with the intention of some activities turning out one way, but nearly always turning out another, better, Yummy Italy way.
What more could anyone need to have a true Italian experience? We are all tied to the food of Italy. Yet most of us, when we travel to Italy, do NOT make it to Emilia Romagna. Let Take Me Home Italy and Yummy Italy assist you in an excellent, real experience of Italy where you can mangia well and find your Italian Soul. Contact Take Me Home Italy to arrange a visit or contact Helena at:
www.yummy-italy.com on the web
@trueyummyitaly on Twitter
www.facebook.com/yummyItaly on Facebook.
Ciao for now!
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Ciao for Now!
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