They say Europe is where you fall in love, and for couple Carol and Giulio Caperchi, that couldn’t be truer. They met in London, moved to Rome and ultimately got married locally in Falmouth, Massachusetts. The root of their love? Food. With the belief that high quality, local food brings people together, this foodie duo launched Seven Hills Pasta Co., crafting handmade pasta made with real ingredients from their Italian style “pastificio” in Melrose. We got to chat with Carol and Giulio to learn about their very own local farm, a favorite Italian recipe, and their joy for good, clean honest food.
R.K.: What made you start your brand? How did you first get the idea?
S.H.: We initially started out selling Italian wine crackers called Taralli. These are handmade snacks typically served with a glass of wine in Italy. We knew we always wanted to have dried pasta be our end game, but we thought it would be best to branch into the market slowly before investing in pasta machines. In our travels throughout Italy, we would always come across small artisan pasta producers specializing in rustic shapes and focusing on quality over quantity. These trips and visits inspired us to bring those ideas and traditions to our own business and eventually start Seven Hills Pasta Co.
R.K.: How do you source your ingredients?
S.H.: For our specialty pastas, we source organic semolina from a mill in Quebec, as well as whole wheat from a small family farm in WesternMassachusetts. We also source durum wheat semolina flour from North Dakota from a mid-sized producer, for our traditional pastas.
R.K.: That’s so cool you have your own local farm! Tell me more about that.
S.H.: At our small farm in Central Massachusetts, we practice no-till agriculture with plenty of crop rotation. We are inspired by permaculture and agroecological principles and try to align our growing techniques with patterns that occur naturally in the soil. Seasonally, we use the produce and herbs from our farm to make pasta sauces and pesto—truly farm to table!
R.K.: What’s your favorite pasta variety and recipe you love to make with it?
S.H.: Definitely Gnocchetti Sardi. Also called “the poor man’s gnocchi” (because of its lack of potatoes and egg), this shape is native to the island of Sardinia and is served best coated in a thick tomato and ground lamb sauce. A Pecorino Nor’easter is mandatory!
R.K.: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any particular challenges along the way?
S.H.: Learning about the microclimate in our pastificio was probably the biggest challenge. We produce in an old building from the early 1900s, and we cannot precisely control temperature and humidity—the two most important variables in pasta making.
R.K.: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
S.H.: There are a lot of resources available to small food entrepreneurs like us that have helped us immensely. Organizations such as Branchfood, Slow Money or the Sustainable Business Network organize events, networking opportunities and seminars that offer support to beginning food entrepreneurs. In addition, the local food scene itself is booming, so you’re inspired every day by what other businesses are doing. There’s also a sense of community and collaboration; for example we just did a pop-up event serving pasta at Bone-Up Brewery in Everett, Massachusetts. Local businesses want to support other local businesses and it’s a win-win! I’m not sure whether this is the case or not in other places, but we definitely appreciate it here.
R.K.: What would you love to see in the New England food and wellness scene that you don’t now?
S.H.: We would like to see more initiatives on behalf of public institutions making local food and fresh produce accessible to all. There has been much positive progress in this respect but more must be done.
R.K.: What other local food and wellness brands are you a fan of?
S.H.: The list is never ending, but lately we’ve been huge fans of Chestnut Farms in Hardwick, Massachusetts (their meat is amazing), Bone Up Brewing Co. in Everett, Massachusetts, Red’s Best for seafood in Boston and Wolf Meadow Farm for amazing mozzarella.
R.K.: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
S.H.: Seeing other local small food business grow and succeed is so inspiring to us. We started out making Italian Taralli wine crackers at a shared kitchen space in Malden called Stock Pot. Many of the businesses we shared that space with went on to become great success stories in their own right. On the other side of the pond, we drew inspiration from small pasta companies in Italy, specifically in the region of Puglia where heirloom varieties of wheat are grown, milled and turned into specialty pastas within a couple mile radius.
R.K.: Do you have a favorite quote or business mantra?
S.H.: One day at a time! Rome wasn’t built in a day. 🙂
R.K.: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
S.H.: We definitely want to place our pasta in most specialty food stores in New England. We will be releasing plenty of specialty pastas, which we hope will become mainstays on shelves in a specialty food store near you.
R.K.: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own wellness or food business?
S.H.: We’re big fans of getting out there and talking to people. Ask questions and get to know other local businesses and how they started out. Farmers markets are a great way to test your product and obtain feedback from customers.
R.K.: Here at The W.E.L.L. Summit we like to say “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” How would you describe your vibe?
S.H.: We’re just two folks who like to eat good, clean, honest food. We hope that our pasta brings friends and families together over a great meal.