Earlier this year, Jake and Oliver started Pastore Pasta in Dorset – producing Italian food using exclusively British ingredients. We caught up with the pair to chat about pasta (never a hardship for us at Westcountry Weekender!), starting a business in lockdown and the experience of swapping cooking in Michelin star restaurants for preparing food in a converted shepherd’s hut.
WW: So perhaps we should start by saying welcome to the Westcountry! West Dorset is a beautiful part of the south-west. And the new location is just one of many new starts for you – a new joint venture, a new business and a new mobile kitchen too. How’s it all going?
Jake: It’s definitely been a really busy few months! But it’s a really exciting time too. It’s our first venture together and it’s a great opportunity for us to express ourselves creatively and bring our personalities into our work.
WW: And have you worked together before?
Oliver: We first crossed paths at restaurant Marcus in Knightsbridge, working together as Head Chef and Sous Chef. We worked really well together, maintaining 2 Michelin stars and 5 AA rosettes so it’s great to be back in the kitchen again.
WW: And you clearly have a shared passion for food too, did you always know you’d want to be chefs?
Oliver: I think for me it was family trips to Italy that really sparked something. We’d go to places like Sicily, Naples and Florence and the food was just incredible, I loved it and it really inspired me to cook. I did my training in London, working in Michelin star restaurants and then it was in Melbourne, Australia that I really honed in on pasta. I worked at Tipo 00 where they specialise in serving great pasta dishes. Working with pasta every day really refined my skills.
Jake: For me, I always knew I wanted to run kitchens at the highest level. I left Lancashire for London and joined the team at restaurant Tom Aikens in Chelsea. Then meeting Oli along the way, it’s worked out really well.
WW: And so how did the idea for Pastore Pasta come about?
Jake: When the lockdown hit London I took the opportunity to quit my job and decided that now was the time to start my own business. I had started consultancy work about 6 months previously and planned to use the lockdown as an opportunity to double down on building that clientele when I text Oliver to see how he was getting on. We exchanged 2 or 3 text messages before deciding that we should work together again and go all in on making the food truck work.
Oliver: It all came about really quickly and pretty organically. We used the bulk of lockdown to develop the logo and get our heads together regarding menus and ethos and then that was it – we were cooking as a team again.
WW: So what kind of food can people expect from you?
Jake: When we’re out serving in the hut we generally have 3 or 4 antipasti or starters and usually 3 different kinds of pasta and then one dessert. We focus on using lots of vegetables in our dishes. When we do use meat and fish we source it from the best possible, local producers. Our ethos is that we are people focussed and accessible to everyone. Ensuring that we are accommodating, generous and offer great value to people.
Oliver: It’s about producing great Italian food – delicious fresh pasta made with organic, stoneground ancient grains and showcasing fantastic British produce in different ways.
WW: And how have people reacted?
Jake: The support has been incredible, particularly in Puncknowle where we see more and more people coming out for food each week and lots of familiar faces too.
Oliver: We also recently started working with Emma from Bonjour cafe in Poundbury so we have collaborated to create a supper club each Friday from 5 pm where we cook and serve the food and then Emma does the drinks. It’s a great partnership and people seem to really enjoy it.
WW: What made you pick that part of Dorset?
Oliver: My mum happened to move here a little over a year ago and so we’ve been able to base ourselves at her house whilst we get the business up and running.
Jake: We’re really grateful for the opportunity and her hospitality. It’s also a beautiful part of the country and we both love being near the beach.
WW: Absolutely, there are some beautiful beaches in the area, any favourites?
Jake: We get to the beach in Burton Bradstock as often as we can. It’s beautiful there, but with lockdown and starting the business we haven’t had much time to explore the area.
WW: Well when you can we definitely recommend Chesil Beach and the Isle of Portland and you’re not far from Abbotsbury or West Bay either. And if you fancy venturing a bit further afield Lyme Regis is a beautiful spot. But before we get too carried away…are there any local ingredients or suppliers you’ve discovered since moving to the area?
Jake: Washing Pool farm shop has been a great find for us. They have a great selection of locally grown produce and loads of fantastic vegetables that are all grown on their own farm. We use a lot of vegetables in our dishes and they’re always beautifully fresh.
Oliver: White Lake Cheese is also one of our favourites, finding their pecorino cheese has been a game-changer!
WW: In terms of cooking, we wanted to ask about the shepherd’s hut. We’ve seen pictures of it and it looks stunning…but how do you go from cooking in Michelin star restaurants to working in such a different environment.
Jake: Ha, well one of the biggest challenges is actually moving the thing around! Suffice to say it’s far more difficult to manoeuvre than we thought.
Oliver: Yes, there’s something to be said about traditional restaurants and not having to drive them about everywhere! Inside there are some challenges too with space – we’ve had a few kitchen floods and mishaps. But it’s all part of getting to know the space. Customers love it though and the kitchen set-up inside is fantastic even if it gets a little cosy at times!
WW: And what’s your favourite dish to prepare and why?
Oliver: Our favourite antipasti has to be the Burrata dishes we do, it’s made by La Latteria and it’s an incredible product and one that few people have tried here in Dorset. So to be serving something as familiar as Italian food and still be able to provide people with things they have never tried before is fantastic.
WW: That seems to be a bit of a theme on your social media channels – wanting to share new food experiences with people. You’ve posted some great tutorial videos – everything from prepping John Dory and salmon to whipping up a vegetable salad from the garden and making ricotta tortellini. Is that something you enjoy making the online demos?
Jake: It’s all a bit tongue in cheek really, we’re aware that the social media is not our strong point. But we believe in documenting our progress and developing our skills and competence as we go. And if people enjoy it then that’s even better.
WW: People will always be happy to watch great food being made, even if they don’t want to have a go themselves. We think you’re doing a great job! Just keep the food coming! Speaking of that…where can people find you if they want to try Pastore Pasta for themselves?
Oliver: Well, we are in Poundbury every Friday from 5 pm just outside Bonjour Café and Puncknowle every Saturday on the corner of Church Street and Rectory Lane. For the summer holidays, we will also be at the White Horse Inn in Litton Cheney every Monday from 5 pm.
Jake: And we’re also available for private events, whether it’s intimate dinners or large scale events. And we can bring the shepherd’s hut with us too!
WW: Well we’ll definitely be popping in for some pasta next time we’re in the area. Thank you both so much for taking the time out to chat with us. We know it’s a busy time for you. We hope you have a great summer and wish you all the best with the new venture!
Pastore Pasta online and on social media
To follow Jake and Oliver’s journey, why not check them out on social media:
They also have a website: Pastorepasta.co.uk