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Two of a kind: Sam and Stefano

Categories: Behind the stalls

The husband and wife team behind From Field and Flower

Sam on Stefano
Stefano and I were together as a couple before we started the business. It was a classic story of meeting through a friend but the romance as well as the business began at Borough Market. Being on the stall with him is great fun, we are quite smiley people anyway and we love talking to people.

We are not always on the stall together because there are times when we have different responsibilities but when we are, we have a great vibe going on. We like to have a laugh with our customers.

Stefano has a wide range of foods he is into which is wonderful, but he is probably the only Italian I know who isn’t very into pasta. We don’t eat much of it at home. I would say heaven for him is a fantastic steak, chargrilled and served with simple ingredients. It doesn’t have to be fine dining. Give him a good steak from a nice community restaurant with a big bottle of red wine and he is happy.

Another non-Italian trait is that he is not zealous about the food of his region. He loves all types of cuisine—he took me for my first Korean meal. Don’t get me wrong, he is passionate about Italian produce, it is just that he is not blinkered about food. It is one of the reasons we both like London as a whole and Borough Market in particular. You can discover new things every day, it’s fantastic.

Stefano deals with our suppliers which a big job, as most of them are in Italy. He is brilliant when it comes to logistics. I’m in charge of looking after accounts, marketing, IT etc.

I would say Stefano is a very passionate cook. He takes it very seriously—whether it’s a simple salad or a proper ragu, he is very focused. It can take anything from 10 minutes to eight hours. He wants the best possible result, but at the same time he is a very relaxed cook, he knows what he is doing, and he has lived with a few chefs in the past which helps.

His speciality is his ragu. It’s slow cooked and usually does take eight hours. It is beautiful and usually a mix of pork, beef and veal with red wine and beautiful herbs. He just lets it do its thing and it is the best thing you’ve ever eaten.

Working together is lovely but can be challenging. We are both quite stubborn and opinionated people so sometimes we have quite heated debates about things like new products and stock levels. Neither of us are that good at stepping back and saying ‘Ok, it’s not that important’. Funnily enough, though, it is normally about trivial things. We always agree about the big business decisions.

At the moment we don’t go out as much as we used to, running the business is just too exhausting. We relax with wine at home. I like crisp whites and big reds like merlot and syrah. Stefano is from the Barolo region and loves the big punchy Italian reds like gattinara, barolo, and amarone on special occasions.

I think one of the things that gives Stefano most pleasure is how much I like working on the stall. Working here really defied my expectations, I found it really exciting. Stefano is very smug about that because he said I would love it—it kills me to say he was right. It is also really nice going through the shared experience of building something together.

Sam and Stefano

Stefano on Sam
I really like working with Sam. It was one of the things I had in mind when I had the idea for the business. We had not worked together before so you never know how things are going to work out, but it has been really fun. We both really like interacting with the customers and the other traders. But the most important thing is that we get to spend a lot of time together.

At the time she thought the idea of her giving up her corporate job and working here was crazy. But things changed when she was made redundant. She did have the opportunity to carry on in the career she was doing, she was very good at her job and other opportunities opened up, but our business was running and she had spent some time at the Market on the stall.

She had begun to fall in love with what it is to be part of a market. It is a different kind of society and one that she found she enjoyed. So she decided to take the plunge and come full time on board with the business.

At the beginning she was a bit shy on the stall because she had never worked in a market. She was from a corporate background, where you interact with the customers in a different way. But after a while I began to see her adapt and really enjoy the experience. At the same time she gets to use her experience of marketing, branding and IT to help the business, so she is happy with that.

One of the reasons I think she likes it here is because just like me, she loves food. Not just the eating, but the background, the production, everything. Food in one form or another makes up a large part of our conversations. Not only honey but the other things we sell as well, we just find it an area of fascination. Even before the business, once we finished lunch we would talk about dinner.

Sam is wonderful at cooking. She thinks very quickly. She can come up with something wonderful from whatever we have in half an hour. She loves cooking, it’s like her decompression time, her way of starting to relax after work. It is one of the reasons Sam does a lot of the cooking at home—that and the fact that I’m lazy!

Vegetables are at the centre of cooking for Sam, even though she isn’t a vegetarian. She introduced me to cauliflower rice—finely grated cauliflower cooked in a pan with things like chilli and garlic or spices like cardamom and coriander. When you cook it, it becomes crispy, it has a great texture.

At the moment I would say her favourite food is Asian cuisine—anything from Thai to Indian. If I was going to take Sam out for a special meal I think it would be either Japanese or Thai, but that changes. A year ago it would have been a well-cooked, traditional roast dinner in a pub. Next year it will be something else. We are both experimental when it comes to food and are always looking for new things to discover.