I was a broker, I’ve turned my life selling parma ham and salami- of Marco Vineis

I worked for several years as broker among banking giants that don’t exist any more. When a good bonus was offered me I thought about my first dream and I started my entrepreneurial career selling Parma ham and salami at the Borough Market. My previous colleagues looked at me astonished.

On the December 1991 I first came to London after I had an interview at the Royal Bank of Canada in Turin, where they promised an interesting experience in the London Branch from February.

As my English wasn’t very good I decided to move quickly for a brief experience before starting the real job in February. Unfortunately the position they offered me it was withdrawn unexpectedly and  I had to decide to be unemployed in London or in Italy and I opted for London.

I had the worst time in all my life and I now remember that period as the hardest, I missed my family and my friends, I worked for free and I was short of money all the time. I was selling Jamaican sauce door to door, doing a sort of market research for a Canadian importer, and I earned a total amount of £ 45 per month.

In a short time I started new different jobs. As self employed I sold Italian products for Camisa brothers. Then I worked as pianist in Ciao Bella and Moro Restaurant, and during the 1992 as unpaid trainer in Banca Popolare di Novara for a 6 months free period.

I was underpaid and underqualified in every job I did. Since then I was almost desperate, convincing me day after day to have taken the wrong and longest way to get a solid job.

Suddenly I had an interview with Citybank, and they got me offering a job in Milan as expatriate in the global custody department. It was a sort of revenge. My life changed in one day and I became almost rich.

In Milan I met my wife Nina, I got married and I had a baby Pablo. I moved back to London with all my family and, thanks to my experience in the global department of Citybank, I got a nice job at Tullett & Tokyo first and then a very good offer from Cantor Fitzgerald.

The environment was tough, artificial, sometimes stupid and childish. But it was exciting to trade billion of pounds in one trade among banks such as Salomon Brothers, Lehmann, Smith Barney, and Paribas. All giants of the finance that now don’t exist anymore but in the 90s they were the most important institutions of the world.

We felt as finance workers building up Europe. This is what a friend of mine once told me:” We are the little workers that help to put Europe together.”

I remember it as a very good time plenty of up and down feelings, hungers, and vicissitudes but compensated by the exciting experience working in the City of London. Then when a bonus of £ 40,000 was offered me I thought that good things couldn’t last forever. So I put together my passion for food with my first dream about having my own company, when I was still a student in Turin, and the result was Gastronomica.

The passion for food is inside me and was generated when I was a child. I used to do my homework in the kitchen together with my mother or my grandmother. I loved to notice the difference in cooking between them. I saw my grandma putting rosemary and garlic in the fried potatoes, while my mum cooked them plain with grand salt after the cooking time.

I learnt to be patient when you cook, to get the best ingredients and look after them, to cut in the right proportion and never exceed in quantity. Thrift is very important with food and one of the most important lessons is to be able to cook with all the products left in your fridge, avoiding wasting food.

Growing up I enjoyed climbing in the mountain where I met a lot of shepherds who live up in the Alps making cheese. I was convinced that the entire world had mountains, shepherds and cheeses like that. After my experience abroad I realised that it’s not true.

Maybe I was a bit naive, however I had a long introspective investigation before I found this nice side of me.

Gastronomica started as a stall at the Borough Market, and my first venue was the terrace of my house where I kept the cheeses. Then distributing Italian products to restaurants we had the honour, and we still have it, to work with chefs like Giorgio Locatelli who loves good ingredients and genuine quality food.

Soon we opened three coffee shops inside Cantor Fitzgerald when they were in America Square. The management loved our food, but unfortunately Cantor moved in another building and those shops are now closed.

After it we opened other three shops: Wapping, Borough Market and Pimlico, and also the Borough Market shop is now closed as a new underground line has been built just where my shop was.

However I just opened another shop in Luxembourg, where my family live, and we are still present in several local markets in Pimlico, Broadway, Clapham and Soho, counting at least 25 people working for Gastronomica.

Let’s say that we didn’t have just successes, it has been a continuous up and down.

Now I have to keep the company in a good shape. I go to Italy when I can, I should go often. However I’m spending a bit more time in Italy, to improve the logistic and extend the range of products.

I am the person that tastes the products, which I select on the basis of the attitude of the producers; they must have passion for what they do. As my friend Giorgio and his wife who live with simplicity up in the mountain in Val Maira, making one of the best goat cheeses in the world.

It is ten years since I opened the first stall at Borough Market and looking back I can say Gastronomica changed my life. It changed my life because I now go to work with the smile on my lips and this is the best thing can happen to a man. Thanks to my wife who supported me in all the difficulties since the beginning, and to collaborators as Francesco Lentini who’s going to be my partner soon.


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One Comment on “I was a broker, I’ve turned my life selling parma ham and salami- of Marco Vineis”

  1. eventi trentino 27 April 2014 at 12:06 am #

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