Flours: Petra Molino Quaglia Hands on Doughs: Giulia Miatto e Giovanni Marchetto Video: Giovanni Maria Pacchiano e Paolo Pegorari by Hive Studio Published by Corriere.it
Classes, Technical Training, Events
In the classroom of iL Laboratorio many food professionals are paying close attention to the lesson, they are all wearing a white jacket and a hat. They are ready to take notes and to observe everything with curiosity. A heterogeneous group of people, coming from different working backgrounds but all united by the same passion for food. The event is called “Cinque stelle in cucina” and it is led by fellow professionals. They are not big names of the food industry, but they are successful businessmen and talented chefs. They run their businesses producing top-quality products and they know how to communicate their values. The editorial staff of Dolcesalato is here today to take part in the event and experience the concrete steps forward of iL Laboratorio, the school of Molino Quaglia. A place where talented pastry, bread, and pizza chefs can improve their technical skills and take their businesses to the next level.
Five years ago, Chiara Quaglia, president of Arte Innovativa degli Alimenti, explained the reasons behind the creation of iL Laboratorio to Dolcesalato: "We wanted to restore the importance of bread in the human diet. The use of flours in bread-making is almost an artistic activity. We did not want it to become completely industrial, we wanted to save its artisanal characteristics."
Five years has passed. Is the mission of iL Laboratorio changed during this time?
The main mission of iL Laboratorio is still the same. We organize events, courses and meetings to share our practical knowledge on food production, especially bread-making. However, we are aware that nowadays quality is fundamental to compete in the food market, but it is not enough. It is very important to learn how to promote and present products at their best, in order to be able to sell them. The competition is strong, if we take into consideration the large-scale and also the small-scale organized distribution. For this reason, it is not enough to choose top quality ingredients and use artisanal techniques. Food artisans need to communicate the added values of their products. Doing so, the consumer will understand the real quality of artisanal products and will be interested in buying them.
Can you give us a concrete example?
Food market is rapidly changing. We want to help food artisans find their new dimension in this ever-changing market, adapting to the lifestyle of customers. Differentiating their offer is the key factor to succeed in the market. Complying with health and safety regulations, artisans should create a space in their shop where customers can sit down, relax and enjoy their products. If we consider a pastry shop, its activity starts in the morning during breakfast time and it continues with aperitifs before and after the lunch break, until its time to close. The most important thing is to attract customers offering top-quality products that differ significantly from others on the market. In order to do so, food artisans need to pay attention to details, from the packaging, to the food presentation, but it is also very important to take care of shop interior decoration, the atmosphere, and a friendly staff.
What are the strengths of contemporary bakery and pastry-making?
Bakery and pastry products are rightly considered treats, however they do not have to damage the health of customers. In other words, a pastry can be a caloric food, but it must not cause digestive problems, with negatives consequences on people’s health. Customers need to be free to enjoy their treats, sweets and desserts and feel that they have eaten something natural, something prepared using top-quality ingredients and artisanal techniques.
It sounds like the perfect starting point for the development of artisanal businesses. How can iL Laboratorio® help food artisans?
iL Laboratorio is in close contact with the food industry. For this reason, it can experiment with raw materials and design innovative products, to respond to food artisans’ needs. Top-quality raw ingredients are the basis for the development of healthy and competitive products. And we extended this concept not only to chefs, but also to bread, pastry, and pizza makers. Customers need to know the quality of what they are eating, and food artisans need to be able to explain the quality of their products. For this reason, Molino Quaglia created a new line of stone milled flours, called Petra. The large-scale distribution of refined and standardized wheat flours led to the loss of nutrients, vitamins and mineral salts in this ingredient. Instead, all these elements are present in Petra flours, which give a full-rounded flavor to bakery products, allowing the food artisan to use less sugar and fats, for a healthier final result.
Molino Quaglia provides food artisans with an ingredient that represents its values and philosophy. But what is Petra exactly? And what do you consider to be its major advantages?
We use the traditional stone-milling method in our modern industrial milling plant. In this way, we are able to solve the problems of traditional stone milled flour in terms of safety and stability, while preserving the organoleptic values of wheat grain. Petra is not a stone milled flour like any other. It has a well-rounded flavor and taste, and, thanks to its technological characteristics, it can be used to prepare different products. Each flour of Petra line exalts the gluten and protein content of the wheat grain it originates from. We do not consider the strength of the flour as the only indicator of quality, we also value the gluten content. In the past, only the quantity of gluten was taken into consideration, but here at Molino Quaglia we measure also its quality. In doing so, we are able to provide top-performing specialist flours, that can stand different production processes.
How do you choose your teaching staff?
We choose professionals that share our view on the market, our production philosophy, and our way of developing recipes. We choose food artisans that run their own business because they have a complete understanding of the food industry. We propose very concrete ideas. For example, not only do we teach recipes, we also provide our students with a complete selling plan for each of them. We take care of all the details, from packaging, to food presentation, form the pairing with different drink options to the calculation of sales prices and costs of production.
What do you have in store for food artisans in 2009?
We want to keep developing the main concept behind Petra: the search for a flour that has a full-bodied and natural taste in order to obtain a dough with strong and distinctive characteristics. We want to go beyond the concept of a colorless, odorless and tasteless dough. On the contrary, we privilege an aromatic dough, which maintains a particular and distinctive texture.
How can food artisans face the current and future economic crisis?
In order to overcome the crisis and foster future development, food artisans need to personalize their business in terms of product choice, packaging, customer service, etc. There are different fundamental aspects to take into account in order to face the economic impasse, and we deal with them during our lessons in the School. We pay attention to the choice of raw material , staff management, the depreciation of tools and equipment, marketing activities according to the size and type of business.