Valeriana de Berardinis
Since she was young, Valeriana had a very creative mind, and in her twenties set upon opening a famous pizzeria restaurant in Abruzzo, in the heart of Italy. The main product was the award winning pizza, which she developed over many years of practice. She used to go around the whole region trying pizza from competing pizzerias, tasting them, analyzing them, and incorporating the positive elements of each into her own product.
After lots of experimenting, Valeriana finally developed her ultimate pizza, which was declared the best in the area. Although she was satisfied with her product, she never stopped improving her craft, and was often her worse critic.
Valeriana eventually moved to the beautiful English South Downs, and after 15 years of pizza making was keen to set her creative mind on developing a different product. She invented Farretti, an organic, savoury biscuit, made with spelt flour, hence its name, as spelt in Italian is “farro” and farretti means “little spelties”.
Although the product was delicious, she didn’t have enough marketing power behind it as people did not know what it was, thus making them reluctant to pick it up off the shelf. Since her passion was in creating products, rather than dealing with the marketing and advertising behind them, she decided to conserve her energies, and redirect them towards making a product that people were aware of and liked, so after many sleepless nights she came on the idea of ciabatta bread.
Having some background in bread-making from her early working life, she made her first ciabatta, by simply mixing all the ingredients, letting the dough rise for 12 hours, shaping it into loaves and baking it. To her surprise, a local supermarket liked the simple product so much that they started stocking it!
This was the beginning of the ciabatta adventure. She had no idea that the development of this product would challenge her so much over the next years. She found the original inventor of ciabatta bread, Dr Cavallari, was still happily living in northern Italy, and talking with him she learned a valuable tip that she had at the time overlooked in the process: the importance of high quality, pure flour. She learned that Dr Cavallari is obsessed with this, and rightly so. She therefore set upon finding this high quality, pure flour, and after extensive research came across Marriages, a long established family run flour miller located in Chelmsford, Essex. Valeriana established a great relationship with the firm as she was impressed by their great products, and strong business values, so armed with flour, she set about expanding from just one shop and now supplies a wide variety of farm shops, pubs, and caterers, in South East England.
Ciabatta is the Italian word for slipper, and Valeriana learned the curiosity behind this nomenclature directly from Dr Cavallari himself. When inventing the product, Dr Cavallari’s first ciabatta did not come out as expected because it was quite flat, and a friend of his commented on how it looked like a ciabatta (a slipper). For some reason, the word ciabatta was pleasing to the ear and that’s why the name stuck. Although Valeriana would now describe her bread as looking more like fluffy clouds than slippers, she decided to keep the ciabatta name to honour the long-standing recipe and process which culminated to her bread as she makes it.
It has so far taken Val 6 years to develop the current Farretti ciabatta, and she is learning more and more about how to perfect the product with every baking process.
Farretti ciabatta has got a nice dress! A simple brown paper craft bag has the Farretti logo stamped on it by hand. The logo was made by Jonathan Rogers from JPR Brand Designs.