The duo behind Bianca e Mora talk parmesan and curious customers
Ewa on Enrico
I have known Enrico for about nine years. We met in Italy working in a company making organic cosmetics out of by-products from the food industry.
We came to London about six years ago to have a look at the food scene and visited Borough Market—we loved it, and thought there was room for us here to start a business selling the produce we knew and loved from small producers in Italy.
The thing Enrico loves most about working here is the food. He is a real foodie and being surrounded by interesting food from all over the world appeals to him. He also loves the food we sell on the stall. Perhaps a little too much—I am always teasing him about eating too much of our cheese and salami! His favourite thing on the stall is parmesan cheese. He can eat it all day, every day. Maybe that is because he comes from parmesan country in Bologna.
Enrico is also a real salesman, but it is not just about getting people to buy things and leave: he has a wonderful connection with the customers. When you watch him behind the counter, it is like watching a performance. Enrico has a large personality and this comes out when he is selling. It is a bit like watching a show and you can see that he is really enjoying himself.
Of course, while we all like to get paid, for Enrico this job is not about the money—he really loves what we do. He is very happy when the customers appreciate the products, I think it gives him a sense of pride in Italian food and the producers who supply us. Customers at Borough Market are very curious , they don’t just buy and go. They have a real interest in what we sell—how it is made, who the producers are—and I think he likes this level of interaction.
While we both share responsibilities, he is definitely the more creative of the two of us. He can have 100 different ideas in an hour about new products, about the stall, about different thigs we can do, and I see it as my job to rein him in a bit—try and figure out the ones that are practical and see if we can act on them.
The best thing about working with Enrico is that there is no stress. He is a very relaxed, but hard working guy. He is happy to take on any job that needs doing, whether it is driving for 10 hours to deliver something or shifting heavy goods. He is always happy to get stuck in and usually has a smile on his face while doing it.
The worst thing is that it can get a bit chaotic when he is around. I am a very organised person who likes structures and order, while Enrico is the complete opposite. If he loads the van you can never find anything and while the stall looks good from the front, behind the scenes it is sometimes a different story when he is working. Sometimes I jokingly call him ‘the demolition’ because the place can look like a wrecking ball once he has been through it.
Enrico on Ewa
It was in Modena, Italy, that we first worked together. Ewa is the manager of the stall and has the final decision on the products that we sell, while I am focused on selling and delivering our products to the customers. When we came to London, the idea was to concentrate on working with products from the Italian Slow Food Presidium.
Ewa is absolutely crazy about Borough Market—she really loves everything about the place. She has great relationships with the other traders, as well as with the customers.
I think the thing she likes most about working on the stall is finding new products or producers and introducing them to our customers. She is very happy when a new product is a success. It goes back to her commitment to working with small artisan producers in Italy and to the relationships with the customers that she has—she just loves it when she has helped them to discover something new, that they will enjoy for years to come.
Because she decides on what products we sell Ewa likes them all, but the cheeses are definitely her favourite. She knows them incredibly well—they are more than just products, she understands the processes, visits the farms, knows the producers. They are part of her life. I think she is not only one of the best cheesemongers in Borough Market, but in the whole of London. She has so much knowledge.
She really loves our customers and they love her as well. Many come back on a regular basis because she is here. She is very good at explaining the history of the things we sell, and through that our customers feel a connection to the producers we buy from. She really cares about ensuring people get the best out of what they buy when they get home and is full of advice about how to cook with them, or what other ingredients really complement whatever they are buying. In fact, she has become a good friend to, as well as an unofficial food consultant, for many of our customers.
The best thing about working with Ewa is actually two things: first of all, she is just a lovely person, so working with her is a nice experience. Secondly, she is a very organised person behind the stall—everything has a set place and has to be there. You can always tell when she is working, because if you look behind the stall everything is very neat and tidy—which is helpful, as I am not. The worst is that she can be very demanding, but then again that is probably not a bad thing.