When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?
I have never known anything else really! I grew up on my parents’ organic farm in Umbria and have been making pasta since I was 10. I helped in the kitchen and with anything else that needed doing around the agriturismo. It’s really the only job I ever knew!
Where and how did you get your start?
My first real paid job was at my parents’ agriturismo where I started to get pocket money for helping out as a waitress at the age of 14. I have, however, always been much more interested in working in the kitchen. When I was 19 I became a full-time chef at my parents’ farm having learnt everything from my mother, who is also a chef. At the age of 24 I then took over the business from my parents and started running it myself for many years.
Sum up your current work life in one sentence.
Eat, sleep, eat, repeat ha ha!
Who has been really influential on your career and why?
My mother absolutely. She has taught me everything I know about food, cooking and ingredients from a very early age on.
What’s next for you?
I’m of course very excited about opening up Lina Stores Stable Street and venturing out of Soho for the first time. King’s Cross will feature a restaurant and a deli under one roof. I’m currently working on some new recipes and meeting our suppliers in London and across Italy to expand our range. We’re adding a few exciting new main course dishes and a dessert trolley to the restaurant in addition to home made vermouths and Nocino.
What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?
Be very patient as things won’t happen overnight and keep your friends close, they are invaluable – success takes time and patience really is a virtue! On the other hand, finding a way to unwind is equally important – for me, that’s doing yoga regularly!
Where did you last have a great meal?
Just last week actually! I’m currently exploring Sicily and had wonderful pasta with sea urchin and spaghetti, a typical local dish, in the town of Agrigento. The sea urchin was grilled on charcoal in front of the beach, before being tossed in the spaghetti. This was a really special experience.
Are there any openings you are looking forward to?
I’m very excited about the opening of Flor in Borough Market from the team behind Lyle’s as they will be combining bakery, wine bar and restaurant all into one beautiful space.
Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)?
Aside from London, I love San Francisco – It’s a really interesting city with a laid back vibe. I’ve had some wonderful meals there!
Who would you identify as a rising star?
Currently I really admire Chef Tom Brown from Cornerstone in Hackney. I’m a big seafood lover and really like the simplicity of his plating while making the most out of the ingredients to create bold and interesting flavours.