Elena Spinelli is a chef and runs Apulian Kitchen, a start-up of Salentinian cuisine in the heart of Bristol. She was born in Parabita (in the province of Lecce), mother of a girl of three years old, has been living in Bristol since 2015. She love travelling and cooking.
Here is our interview.
WHAT’S THE STORY OF APULIA KITCHEN?
The idea behind Apulia Kitchen was born from the desire to bring dishes from my land with me once I had decided to move to Bristol, England, with my husband. After having had my experiences in different restaurants of the city, I decide it was time for me to start my own small business. So, in October 2019, my start-up’s adventure started, proposing typical Apulian dishes my mother taught me and prepared in my kitchen.
HOW WAS YOUR PASSION FOR COOKING BORN?
It’s a passion I discovered once I left my country, at first during my studying at the University of Bologna and then during my staying in Argentina. I started missing the smells and flavours of Salentinian cuisine and so I started my journey of recreating dishes from Apulian tradition anywhere I’d go. Moreover, I would take advantage of every travel back to my country to spend time in the kitchen with my mother and I had the chance to catch all her tricks that have made my dishes as special sa hers, and, at the same time, that opportunity helped me feel less the distance once I went back abroad.
ARE THERE MORE SIMILARITIES OR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ENGLAND AND ITALY IN THE KITCHEN?
In my opinion, there are more differences than similarities. I think that in Italian cuisine, the right combination of our high-quality products, determines the delicious result of great success and the unique and incredible taste. On the other hand, in English cuisine it often happens that they use too many spices, dressings, ingredients that sometimes cover flavours, causing the lack of identity of the dishes.
HOW IS ITALIAN CUISINE PERCEIVED IN ENGLAND?
In England Italian cuisine is very popular and requested. In my experience with Apulia Kitchen, I noticed that when English people order Italian food most of times, they do it to “treat” themselves, as they say.
WHAT’S THE MOST POPULAR ITALIAN DISH IN BRISTOL?
Absolutely pizza, being it one of the dishes that are immediately associated to Italy by foreigners, followed by lasagna.
WHICH ARE THE PRODUCTS AND DISHES OF ENGLISH CUISINE YOU LIKE THE MOST AND WOULD SUGGEST ALL ITALIANS TO TRY?
My favourite dish of the English tradition and I would suggest trying is the Sunday Roast, which is served for lunch in the typical Pubs in the city. In the menu you can usually choose between beef, pork, or lamb slowly cooked and accompanied by vegetables. The whole dish is served as one, with the Yorkshire Pudding (a kind of soufflé) and the Gravy sauce, which should wet the meat. It really is delicious! I suggest accompanying the Sunday Roast with an Ale beer which is a typical Britis product. The city of Bristol has at least twenty beer factories that offer a wide selection of craft beer not to be missed. To the beer non-lovers, an alternative to taste is the cider, another classic of the English South-West.
YOU ARE APULIAN. WHAT’S THE DISH YOU HOLD IN YOUR HEART?
As a Salentinian and a lover of dishes of countryside cuisine, there are a lot of dishes I hold in my heart, especially the ones impossible to recreate abroad because among the ingredients needed, there are vegetables that only grown spontaneously in the Salentinian countryside, such as the mashed broad beens with cicorinos, paparina with olives and chicory soup.
NEW PROJECTS COMING FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
I am planning on creating events in collaboration with other businesses in my quarter in Bristol to promote each other, strengthening the sense of community that Bristolians hold so dear and makes me proud to be part of both individually and as a small business. These events would allow me to spread further knowledge about Salentinian traditions through flavours and much more…
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET DREAM?
Travelling by camper with my family, visiting all Italians regions and obviously tasting everywhere specialities.