Christian Pero, the founder of Food Roots, has revealed he plans to open a group of cuisine-specific, 'educational' restaurants in London following the successful launch of In Parma which showcases protected origin products.
The 30-cover site on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia opened earlier this year and specialises in dishes created from European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) products from the Parma province of Italy such as Parma ham and Parmesan cheese.
However speaking to BigHospitality, founder Christian Pero revealed he was hoping to expand and open new sites in the city, similarly specialising in protected products but from other European regions.
"I decided to create the Food Roots brand when I saw in a grocery store in New York that they were calling a cheese product Parmigiano-Reggiano - it was made in Wisconsin. I have to protect my city and all the authentic European food.
"The best way to launch a European brand is in the European capital - London. I have kept an open door to eventually launch In Madrid with Spanish products or In Bordeaux with French products."
Pero, who spent most of his early career working for food multi-nationals such as Kellogg's and Mars in Italy, said he was looking to increase footfall and build knowledge of PDO products and brand awareness of Food Roots before announcing his next step.
In Parma diners are not just treated to a meal but receive what Pero calls 'the world's first educational Italian dining experience'.
"We have an educational corner," the first-time restaurateur explains. "My objective, and that of my staff, is to educate and explain the products - the differences and the personality of each product."
A corner of the site, which doubles up as a takeaway and retail space, contains a collection of books on Italian produce. Interested guests can also watch a video explaining the methods of production of all the food items the restaurant showcases and their various textures and flavours.
Pero argued the difficulty of finding a regular supplier in London other than the three main distributors, as well as the cost, was stopping other restaurant operators from sourcing more PDO products.
"The awareness of PDO is pretty low. With every new customer we never just hand them a menu and leave them - we explain the concept. If they are willing to be educated we want to dedicate all the time we have to it."
At the moment the majority of the meat and cheese plus some of the vegetables and cereals are PDO products but the objective is to have every product on sale protected by the European Commission. "I also want to link to the highest quality, small producers," Pero added.