Welcome back to the “Our Italians” series of interviews. In these, we focus on food artisans, experts, and producers in Italy or abroad. These passionate individuals are committed to sharing the best in Italian food, wine, and traditional products, through family-owned businesses and small scale enterprises, and we’re here to introduce them to you. Today we meet Paolo and Daniela Fagotti, owners of Casa Ceccatelli, a family-run butcher shop located in Greve-in-Chianti.
For almost 130 years, Casa Ceccatelli has nourished its patrons with locally sourced, high-quality meats and artisanal products. Throughout the years, Casa Ceccatelli has remained true to its heritage honoring family recipes and maintaining honest relationships with their clients whom they like to think of as friends. When Paolo solely took charge of the business following the retirement of his mother, Gabriella, after her 65-year career, he and Daniela used their vision to update, modernize, move forward without losing the past. They began to work together to produce artisanal products from the heart and with love for their customers to enjoy. As per the words of George Bernard Shaw their motto: “There is no love more sincere than the love of food.” Meet Paolo and Daniela.
CM: What are your earliest memories of being in your family’s shop?
Paolo: The first and perhaps most beautiful childhood memories are when I went to the bottega to help my parents. The bottega was more like an extension of the house and our customers were friends who came to visit us. When I was 7 I tried to get up early with my parents to go to work but, was taken home (four hours later)! When I was 9, I helped with the preparation of 500 kg of sausages for an important event in Rome (which were to be all tied by hand). I tied more than 100 kg. then I stopped, exhausted but happy.
CM: Paolo, what does Casa Ceccatelli mean to you:
Paolo: It is the story of my family, a testament to my loved ones, and also my story that I am writing daily.
CM: Paolo and Daniela, what feeling do you want visitors at Casa Ceccatelli to have upon entering the shop and when they use your products at home?
Paolo: I hope that our customers love our products and our recently updated shop as much as we do. When they use our products, I would like our customers to taste the authenticity. Everything is made with love and with respect for our traditions.
Daniela: I want people to feel comfortable to visit our bottega, to ask us about our organic artisanal products, and give us their feedback. We try to educate our customers about each product, share recipes, and deliver value by going above and beyond what our client is expecting. We truly know our customers by names and their preferences which makes them feel significant, appreciated and respected. Our shop represents a little piece of family history, which you immediately feel when you walk in.
CM: Describe a typical day at the shop.
Paolo: We like to start the day in a positive and energetic way. We source our fresh products daily and begin to prepare the bottega, organize the orders and shipments. We serve our customers, talk to them and prepare any last-minute requests from the many restaurant chefs that we serve in Florence and Tuscany. We also educate our customers on how to use the different cuts of meat and explain the history behind our organic artisanal products. I also love to share recipes. I’m always trying new dishes at home and enjoy sharing my passion for food and wine with our customers.
CM: Daniela and Paolo, how did you meet?
Paolo: We met in Florence and immediately connected. We stayed in touch for two years between phone calls and reciprocal visits. I immediately felt that Daniela was special, sweet and a dreamer. But, she also had a serious side, deep values and a strong character that I admired.
Daniela: We met in 1990, when I came to study Fashion Design in Florence when I was 20 years old. Paolo wooed me with his whip-smart sense of humor combined with a show-stopping Jean-Paul Gaultier jacket! When I returned to Boston, we kept in touch via hand-written letters, phone calls and occasional trips back and forth between Boston and Florence. I returned to Italy in 1992 and we got married in 1997. In 2001, we had our identical twin boys Dante and Luca. Florence is now my home.
CM: Daniela and Paolo, how did your vision of rebranding develop? What does the brand design mean to you and what do you want it to communicate with your clients and friends?
Paolo: The rebranding stems from the desire to create unique and homogeneous packaging which honors those who have preceded me. With the awareness gained through years of work in creating our organic artisanal products we realized it was a necessary step to guarantee a strong future. Daniela is the main architect of the “Casa Ceccatelli” project. She coordinated each stage using her eye for detail and beauty, her artistic knowledge, and her organization skills.
Daniela: Two years ago we decided to rebrand our company. I had a fashion design background and enjoy taking on creative projects. Paolo has so much passion for high-quality food and a very good palate. He also has a natural talent to convey the flavor, texture, aroma, and presentation of food. I knew that if Paolo and I worked together we could create a brand that was truly special. We wanted to give our brand a rustic elegance which evoked a feeling of the bottega’s history while creating a logo that is beautiful keeping in mind that the family business was run by a woman in what is commonly a male-dominated business. The number 85062 was incorporated because it was the phone number that was on the original storefront sign. The Tuscan proverb inside the flap of our kraft boxes was an idea I had to create a synergy between the history of Tuscany and our family traditions.
The overall look is rustic, while at the same time, clean and organic feeling which represents the future of our brand. The design and branding of our boutique organic wine collection was our biggest challenge. But, it also gave me the most satisfaction. It took the longest to develop and I learned so much along the way. I had a design concept that started with the two love birds and we developed the other five labels around them. I wanted to use all of the elements that have been a part of our experience each summer spent at our estate Tenuta Ceccatelli all these years. We were even more thrilled when last year, three of our wines received the prestigious recognition from the tasting commission of the Merano Wine Festival. We were awarded both Red and Gold WineHunter standards awards.
CM: Paolo and Daniela, which three products are the most important, or that most represent Casa Ceccatelli?
Paolo: Our two organic ragùs: Ragù di Carne and Ragù di Cinta which are still made with the same recipes my mother Gabriella and my grandmother used. Our high-quality organic balsamic vinegar which is aged 18 years improves the flavor of any dish with its taste. Casa Ceccatelli is not just a testament to my loved ones, it also represents the present and future of my family.
Daniela: It’s hard to just pick three. The Bistecca Fiorentina, sausages, and the salumi are all exceptional. Our clients (from all over the world) and the local chefs we collaborate with continue to send us messages expressing how delicious the taste of our meats are and how great the quality is.
CM: Paolo and Daniela, if you had to choose, which three products are your favorite and tell us why you cannot live without them?
Paolo: The organic extra virgin olive oil. I can’t imagine living without my bottle in the kitchen ready to drizzle on a slice of Tuscan bread, a fresh tomato, or pasta. Our organic aromatic salt with herbs, because everything in life has more flavor with salt and herbs. It reminds me of the flavors and aromas that I have known since my childhood. Our sausages, which were the first thing I learned to make and even today my best dishes always incorporate them.
Daniela: The 18yr organic balsamic vinegar, the organic extra virgin Tuscan olive oil, and the organic aromatic salts. I use each of these products every day. I cook meats with our balsamic or use it raw. I use our olive oil on EVERYTHING! I also adore our organic aromatic salt with Tuscan herbs which comes from the mines of Volterra and has been cultivated since the ancient Etruscan times not to mention, it is the purest salt in Italy. I use it on vegetables, meats, fish… practically everything we eat. Some of our customers consider the organic olive oil liquid gold. I have to say, that I feel very spoiled when I’m traveling and I come home to our high-quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil. They truly make any dish more delicious!
CM: Paolo and Daniela, are there any last thoughts you’d like to share about your story?
Paolo: My hope is that the readers will get to know us better and understand that good food always tastes great when it comes from the heart. My family and I grew up with a focus on hard work and respect. We are proud of our work. We take to heart what we do, our traditions and offer authentic products.
Daniela: What always fascinates me about our bottega, is its history, passed on from five generations. A shop run by a mother and her son which was also very unique; they made the perfect team. My mother-in-law, Gabriella’s, tenacity, high-energy spirit, work ethic, and upbeat personality made her a legend in Greve In Chianti. Paolo’s exceptional ability to source only the best ingredients and products as well as, his impeccable tasting abilities are what have always made the products stand out. He has been responsible for growing the company, creating and expanding relationships throughout Florence, Tuscany, and Europe. It is an understatement when we say that Casa Ceccatelli is a family affair. We all have made our contribution in some way and I know that our sons Luca and Dante will too.
Photos, save for 4th last, by Sofie Delauw