Flash-grilled: Gaia Enria

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Gaia Enria founder of Burro e Salvia pasta restaurant Redchurch Street Shoreditch

Related tags: Gaia Enria, Pasta, Restaurant, Casual dining

The Italian-born founder of Burro e Salvia, which opened on Redchurch Street, Shoreditch in 2013, on leading the current fresh pasta craze in the capital and how a trip to Modena changed her life.

Why did you choose a career in restaurants?
After 15 years in marketing and communications, with about six working in the F&B industry, I felt the need to create something, and literally get my hands dirty, rather than working always on someone else’s project. Making pasta was a passion of mine since childhood in Italy, so I travelled to Modena in 2012 and was invited to a pasta making session with some of the local 'sfogline' (the ladies who roll out the pasta). It was enlightening and so my pasta passion became my business.
Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
That dealing with people - whether customers or employees - would take up so much of my time!
What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
I have never liked big chains, I prefer small independent groups or individual restaurants. I like Koya in Soho for great noodles, and The Laughing Heart for contemporary British cuisine matched with amazing low intervention wines.
What motivates you each day?
I often think of something that a friend told me on the day I opened Burro e Salvia - that I am feeding people, with food and with experiences. Making pasta by hand is really a ritual and for example through our workshops I see customers that are really engaged and let their steam off for a bit. It makes running the business even more rewarding to see this.
What keeps you up at night?
The fear of another lockdown. I think everybody in the industry is feeling the same right now.
Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
My first head chef who helped me develop the concept and set up the procedures for the business. At the time I had no clue about concepts such as food cost vs creativity. It helped me create a clear structure for Burro e Salvia, while still developing a unique concept that nobody else in London was really doing at the time. Now London is crazy for fresh pasta.
What has been your best business decision?
To open the first location in an area that at the time was only showing signs of becoming the new thing. Back in 2012 when I first saw the empty shop on Redchurch street, Shoreditch was a different area than it is today. It’s been amazing to be there from the start and see the area change and grow so much with new restaurants and bars.
And the worst?
Opening a second location too early and without enough support.
What piece of advice would you give to those looking to start out in the restaurant business?
Don’t count on yourself for everything. Make sure you have at least one other business partner involved in the operations.
How do you let off steam?
As I don’t like to go to the gym, I’d rather take long walks which are great for my health and allow me to have some relaxed time for thinking with more of an open mind (yes, I never stop thinking)
What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
I probably sound boring, but for me it’s pasta. I guess the whole idea of setting up this business came out of my passion for cooking it at home. If I need comfort, it is definitely gnocchi I go for, although I am also a big fan of durum wheat pasta when I look for ‘al dente’.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Definitely Sicily, where the use of produce and combination of flavours is always inspiring. Among recent discoveries around the world it is the Cape in South Africa, which is so beautiful.
What boxset are you currently watching?
I recently watched The Kominsky Method, and loved it. It reminded me a bit of some of the old school Woody Allen short stories.

Related topics: People

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