Saturday, April 23, 2011
The Birthplace of Eataly: Turin, Italy
Eataly is a delightful combination of food market, cooking school and restaurant. It continues to expand into various Italian cities as well as Japan and Manhattan. But before it completely conquers the world, I wanted to return to where it all began: Turin, Italy.
Eataly (eataly.it) was founded by Oscar Farinetti and opened its doors in Turin in 2007. Oscar Farinetti had previously founded two very successful Italian appliance stores, UniEuro and Trony. But he wanted to return to his first love - food - so he sold the appliance companies and created Eataly.
Rather than just another food store, Eataly is a food experience. It combines professional restaurants, high-quality products and extensive, accessible education. Clear information is posted throughout the store explaining the origins and use of the products. Customers can attend an array of cooking classes given by the store’s expert staff or guest chefs. I attended a class given by the head of the seafood department. His taught the class how to feed 8 people for 8 euro (about $10) by choosing the freshest fish and then cooking and seasoning it in the simplest and most flavorful way.
My favorite aspect of Turin’s Eataly is the cellar: cool, climate controlled spaces are dedicated to wine, cheese and meat. What makes this special is that anyone can rent space in these cellars to age their food or wine. Alberto Peroglio Longhin, the president of Liberi Tutti, a company associated with Eataly, explains it this way, “Even if someone lives here in Torino, they still want to live like they have the advantages of a farm. So for example, they can buy a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and age it in our cellars until it’s ready. Then they can take it home and enjoy it.” You can enjoy photos of the cellar (and the rest of Eataly) in the slideshow below.
Consistent with Eataly’s philosophy that education should be fun, you can pick up an Eatinerario, which is an itinerary in a box, while you’re shopping. This is a special travel adventure designed to bring you to the places in Italy where some of Eataly’s delectable food is produced. Eatinerari are available in different price ranges and last from several hours to 2 days. The shortest itinerary sends you for an afternoon drive in your car to various locations of Eataly growers and farmers. One of your destinations will serve you a delicious lunch from “a rich menu of local flavors.” Other itineraries provide a guide and gourmet dinners. Whichever one you choose, everything you need for your Eatinerario (maps, reservations, etc.) are packed in a small, handy box with handles.
It’s no mystery that Eataly was created in Turin, because it is also the birthplace of the Slow Food movement. Slow Food is an organization founded in 1989 in response to the concept of fast food and all it brings with it: fast life, disconnection from the origins of our food supply and disappearance of local food traditions. Instead, Slow Food protects the heritage of food and culture by strengthening the connections between plate and planet. It believes that farmers, producers, cooks and consumers must work together to protect the world’s food heritage.
The Slow Food organization is a consultant for Eataly. Among other things, its members inspect Eataly’s producers and farmers to ensure that the quality of their products is not compromised to satisfy growing demand. Slow Food helps Eataly showcase sustainable agriculture and artisanal food production. To learn more, visit slowfood.com.
Enjoy the slideshow of just some of the offerings of Turin’s Eataly!