5 minutes with Serena Mariani, Pasquale’s Peppers

29 September 2021, 07:32 AM
  • From making her family proud to why she loves the UK food community, read our interview with Serena Mariani, founder of Pasquale’s Peppers
5 minutes with Serena Mariani, Pasquale’s Peppers

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the food industry?

A lot of the ‘plan B’ jobs I can think of – restaurateur, event designer, food writer – involve food, actually, so I think it was meant to be! In real life, Pasquale’s Peppers is my side hustle. My day job is marketing books, which are probably my second biggest love. Especially books about food.

What was your first job?

Aside from being an after-school tutor (I have always been that uncool kid who was bookish), my first real job was as a waitress at Starbucks in London. They had a branch inside Madame Tussauds that was relatively quiet, so it was a plush job, but I spoke very little English so I found it quite challenging.

What inspires you?

As cheesy as it sounds, the memory of Nonno and generally my family back in Italy. The older generations worked so hard so that we could have education, choices and the freedom to pursue our dreams in ways they couldn’t. I know they love me whatever happens, but I want to make them proud.

What’s the worst job you’ve done?

I like to think I learnt something, about the world or about myself, from every job I’ve had.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The product creation process, working with amazing creatives like my designer Joe (Walkling) or photographer Uyen Luu, and definitely meeting customers and people who are curious and passionate about food!

And your least favourite?

Admin. I am your typical creative but messy person, and I wish I was way more organised with it.

How about the food industry?

I love it when it’s not an ‘industry’ but more like a community. It doesn’t mean there’s no competition or no market orientation, that would be lying, but I think most people in this field have a genuine passion for sharing and that’s something great – I haven’t been in business long but I have already met a bunch of great people, particularly fellow women business owners, I learn a lot from. And I like that the food world is becoming more open to progressive ideas like avoiding cultural appropriation, being anti-racist and being more inclusive.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee. From a Neapolitan mocha, black, one sugar. Like a good Londoner though, I am also partial to speciality coffee – I love AllPress or Climpson’s roasts.

What would be your last supper?

Without a shade of doubt, spaghetti con le vongole, chilli and a glass of Trebbiano from cult Abruzzo producer Emidio Pepe. These things smell and taste like home.

What’s your motto?

“I always reach my goals. I just like to take the scenic route”.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Bees. I know, this makes me sound like a horrible human being, but they were served to me in Malaysia when I was a guest and it didn’t feel polite to turn them down. Plus, I genuinely think we need to get heads round the fact that bugs are edible, and in fact they’re normally eaten in many parts of the world.

What’s your favourite book?

Sorry, too many to answer. The last one I really enjoyed was Laura Lazzaroni’s La Cucina Italiana.

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury, no doubts.

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