20 November 2013

Special Feature: Bella Jo Pasta

Today's special feature is the lovely Jo from Bella Jo Pasta. Jo is the most energetic & fun person you will meet in the Midlands and a complete machine in a pair of running shoes! This creative foodie is the face behind that delicious Bella Jo chilli salsa and, good news, she will be at our Christmas Shopping Evening this Friday. Jo will have a range of pastas, salsas and dips available for sale - the perfect Christmas gift for food lovers.

1. How did Bella Jo begin? When/Where/How?
I started making pasta in my kitchen at home when I was pregnant. I have always loved fresh pasta, the texture and simplicity. Flour, eggs and salt with such a wonderful outcome. Way better than the stuff we get in supermarkets. I always wondered as to why we don't eat this pasta at home and why no one is making homemade pasta. Thus I started Bella Jo, we started with the pasta in a variety of flavours including Plain Egg, herb, sundried tomato, Tricolore, Olive and Squid Ink and then started a gluten free range after becoming aware of how many people suffer with wheat allergies. I then made an accidental 'Chilli Salsa' which has become a hit followed by a Basil pesto, frozen meals and spinach pies made with homemade phyllo pastry. It's great to be able to make what I have grown up eating at home and on holidays spent in Greece.

2.Why do you do what you do?
I believe that us as adults and our children should all eat a variety of good food in it's simplest form, none of this preservative and colorant filled rubbish that we are exposed to everyday e.g. fish fingers, chicken nuggets, twinkies!!! Don't get me wrong I like a treat myself, some dark chocolate now and then but overall I like to eat and feed my family tasty food that's well balanced but also exciting. I love plaing around with recipes and being a bit adventurous with ingredients so doing what I do is my way of being creative. Creating new products that people will like to try such as our Squid Ink tagliatelle. I guess cooking is my passion and I want to share that with others.

3.When you were younger what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lot of things. My mind changes on a regular basis, even still today. I would like to be everything but one thing I do remember is that I always wanting to be some kind of superhero, I used to watch Zorro and take my dad's black tie, cut holes where my eyes were and make my little sister carry me around on her back. She was my horse and she had no say in the matter.

4. What is your favourite restaurant?
Ok so this might sound corny but to be completely honest I would have to say my favourite restaurant is my home. I often find that I criticize food when I go out. I find the prices ridiculous and instead I just imitate the recipes when I get home and enjoy it a whole lot more. I think it is also the comfort of being at home especially with a three year old. You can't expect a toddler to sit at a table throughout a whole dinner without a peep. I just feel relaxed at home. But if I must say Taste of Thai in Hilton is a treat for me as I cook more Mediterranean food.

5. About you...What's your - Top Song? Top Food? Top Beverage? Top Place? Top Movie?
Top Song - Safe and Sound by Capital Cities
Top Food - Definitely seafood with lots of garlic.
Top Beverage- Red Wine ALWAYS!
Top Place - Mozambique
Top Movie - Always has been and always will be Pocahontas

6. What's the best thing about your job?
The best thing about what I do is being able to be creative in my own way and to do what I really enjoy. I also get to move around a lot which is great for me as I am a bit hyperactive and I think it would be my worst nightmare having to sit in an office all day. I would probably be quite a mean person. When we make pasta or pies I am always fiddling with dough or kneading or moving racks. It's a lot of fun sometimes.

7.What's the toughest thing about your job?
Sometimes I really don't feel like cooking or looking at food and I still have to do it. I remember once having a tummy bug and the last thing I wanted to do was smell food but I just had to and the worst part was I still had to go home and cook. But that is very rare. I also think that the industry I am in is quite competitive so I always have to be one step ahead. Well I try to be.

8. What is the most exciting case/project you have ever worked on and why?
Learning about pasta and chatting to a few old Italians was very interesting. It's just so fascinating how so many people have different views on the same thing. I mean it's not terribly exciting but it was motivating, also experimenting with different flavours for our pasta. Perhaps most exciting thing is still to come!

9. If a movie was being made about your life, which actress would you want to play you?
I think it would have to Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Aniston. They just seem like a lot of fun, a bit ditzy but funny.

10. Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Most probably Leo, my three year old. We are both so active and I think being stuck in a small place would be chaos.

11. Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself.
I like chicken necks
I am a bit OCD
I love long shorts

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