Grano originated from my love for grains and great parents. On this page I like to take you into my story.
My first word as baby was “mill”. No wonder that I always wanted to be a miller when I was young. My parents took me endlessly to mills, the scent of freshly ground grain en turning wicks made me happy. I love the old craft and the process from grain to bread always fascinated me. Maybe it’s because my mum, Margreet Ravestein, used to bake the best sourdough bread from the fresh flour. The scent en taste were so irresistible that I loved to help her baking; the foundation of my current culinary passion.
Around my eighteenth birthday, I came into contact with Faouzi Chihabi, owner of , in my opinion, the best Italian trattoria in Rotterdam: Borgo d’Aneto. In addition to my study, I found it beautiful to get to know the south-European style of cooking and to gain experience as a cook. During my first working day, I realized that I was about to discover a new passion: Italian cuisine. I was surprised how combinations of pure products could lead to overwhelming flavors; The power of simplicity! One day, I met Maher Al Sabbagh, culinary expert and co-founder of the Borgo d’Aneto. Maher’s expertise in both the Syrian and Italian cuisine make him a big source of inspiration for me.
In my spare time, I spent as much time as possible on my two passions: cooking and snowboarding. The things I learned in the trattoria gave me inspiration for new recipes from all the regions of Italy. My passion for mills played a major role in this and I developed a love for dough.
The summer of 2012 brought me something new and unsuspected. In the Piemontese village of La Morra, I met something I had never tasted: Pizza Napoletana! I thought I knew about good pizza, this experience proved otherwise. In La Morra I tasted the best pizza ever at Osteria-Pizzeria Per Bacco; a cloud-like dough-edge that tasted like a light French baguette and a topping of Burrata ( a combination of cream and mozzarella) with tomatoes, that tasted heavenly. I had a talk with owner Simona and found out that they are one of the two Neapolitan pizzerias in Piedmont; the AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) must officially give it’s approval before a pizzeria can wear the AVPN logo. I asked Simona about the recipe for the dough, which she was not just giving. I asked why, and she told me that the dough is prepared with sourdough, different types of flour and a leavening time of at least 24 hours. I did not get the recipe, but a great offer: an internship at the pizzeria to discover the secrets myself!
After the conversation with Simona, I decided to master the art of this type of pizza. I think Neapolitan pizza is one of the most fascinating elements of Italian cuisine. “There is perhaps no product in the world that is able to evoke such gastronomic emotions as Neapolitan pizza.”, beautiful words by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini. After my internship at Per Bacco, I bought my own wood oven. With my knowledge I gained at Per Bacco, I started working my recipe. The pizzaiolo at Per Bacco taught me that Neapolitan pizzas are more than a dish, they’re all pieces of artwork. These artworks come true only if three conditions are met: the oven must be at least 485 degrees, the dough must contain 65-70% moisture and each pizza must be prepared with the same amount of love and care. After a long time of experimenting I managed to meet these conditions; I saw my pizzas as art.
My experiences with sourdough pizzas brought me back to my youth: my mother’s bread. It was my dream to bake bread with the taste of the past and the structure of a French baguette, with only sourdough and no commercial yeast. I have the dearest mother of the whole world, though I say it myself. She gave me the opportunity to bake over a thousand times in her beautiful house in Bergen since my graduation. To further expand my knowledge of artisanal baking, I regularly helped baker Hein Raat (Alkmaar). He taught me the background behind the bakers craft in the middle of the night. Working with stone-milled grains, the smell of beautiful breads and hard work: unforgettable nights in the bakery. I fell in love with designing, kneading and baking dough and developed my own recipe.
For me, grain and the road to bread are inextricably linked to the people behind it; from farmer to baker. I am looking for the person behind the craft, the history of a recipe and the origin of grains. During this trip I meet great people, old grains and beautiful places.
With Grano, I carry out my passion for the art of sourdough bread, Neapolitan pizza and the origin of pure, organic and carefully grown and processed grains. I like to share my passion; the way from sprout to crumb is the most beautiful when you enjoy it together…