Date: 14th July 2016
Written by: Nash
Blimey, it’s the big day!
We’re all feeling a little giddy over here, not entirely unlike a film crew on the Premiere night. Because after years of working behind the scenes and keeping things strictly hushed, it’s finally time for the website to go live. Gusto Nero is taking to the internet!
To be very honest, I’ll admit that I hadn’t the faintest daydream of what we’d have today back a couple of years ago when I first learnt of this pasta business. Of course Jikky, our founder, had then been envisioning this whole enterprise for much longer, but let me take you back to the day when it all came together to me.
Over tea and a couple of buttered crumpets, Jikky very casually mentioned that she wanted to make black rice pasta.
We’d been friends for a good half a decade and I knew that Jikky tended to dream big. This, however, was one of the times when I had an inkling that the subject at hand wasn’t much of a dream as it was a well thought out plan.
‘For who?’, I asked.
‘Britain’, she said, and elaborated no further.
I wasn’t a pasta connoisseur (still am not), but even I found the idea of pasta made from black rice rather intriguing. It wasn’t until much later, after exams to be precise (yes, we were but students then, oh those were the days), and the conversation had long fled the forefront of my mind, that I received a call from our founder-to-be.
‘Weird how nobody around here’s ever thought to make a food product out of it…’ she mused pensively, ‘I mean, we live in a very health conscious society after all. I grew up eating steamed black rice, but I guess pasta would be more liked in Britain.’
It was some unholy hour in the morning, and the most I could manage was a groggy ‘Huh?’
Two mugs of tea and a few hobnobs later, we were talking business.
If there is something I’ve learnt about Jikky in the past years, it’s that she’s a visionary as much as a perfectionist. We were discussing the organic control of the farm, and when I argued that Thailand relies on the irrigation system to grow rice, she brushed the idea off without a second thought.
‘If you’re saying we can’t be sure where the river water comes from, then we’ll have nothing to do with irrigation’, she crossed her arms, ‘It’s the seasonal rainfall or nothing.’
Jikky flew out shortly after that fateful conversation and spent the next six months roaming the plains of central Thailand, finding the right farmers to talk to and the right patch of land to work on.
‘I know it sounds cheesy, but every grain of rice matters’, she said in one of our Skype conversations, ‘If I wanted to just make any old pasta, I would’ve used some common rice and cut the production cost by half, but I want this to be a deluxe taste, it has to be special. It wasn’t easy finding farmers who share my vision, but I have, and at least now I know my rice will be perfectly organic.’
She then disappeared for the next year or so to get the farms, the storage and the manufacturing house organically certified. It was in January 2016 when our paths crossed again, that she said everything was ready.
‘I’ve got my pasta, and I’m getting in touch with whole food stores to get it on the shelves. The only thing left to do now is the marketing. I’m making a website’.
I wondered why she was telling me all this and nodded sagely, mindful not to tip over the mortarboard and the anxiety that rested on my newly graduated shoulders. What I didn’t quite realise at the time was that I was about to get my first job offer.
‘Why don’t you have some pasta and start writing something for the website?’
‘I’ll have the pasta’, I said, and served myself some.
‘And the website?’
‘Oh alright, and the website!’
So here we are today! Please stay tuned for our upcoming blogs, where we’ll bring you more stories of Gusto Nero and plenty of other health-related chitchats.
Cheerio for now, and I’ll see you next time!