The History of Gusto Foods

Chef Luciano Vendone has been making authentic pizzas for decades. He now runs Nottingham-based Gusto Foods, which produces and supplies dough balls and pizza bases for restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels, schools, universities and other caterers across the UK, as well as offering training to chefs in how to make the perfect pizza. 

Here, he shares five lessons he’s learned in business.

Unlike most manufacturers, we allow our dough to ferment over 24 hours.

This is what makes our dough so very special.

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Focus on Quality

In the food service catering sector there are many people producing pizza bases, so in order to stand out from the crowd it’s important to create products that are really high quality. 

The process I use at Gusto Foods to make pizza doughs is more time-consuming than many use – a slow fermentation of at least 24 hours is key to the taste and the keeping of the product – and I use very little yeast and very little salt. 

However, it produces a great-tasting pizza. Quality is what keeps customers coming back, not price. Good value is more important than price.

Keep Customers Happy

If our customers are busy selling pizzas in their bars, restaurants or hotels, then it keeps us busy too, so we make sure that we do what we can to support them and add extra value where possible. 

I run regular free workshops to show chefs how to handle pizza dough to ensure they serve up the perfect pizza to diners. In fact, many of our customers have won awards for their food and I like to think that our pizza bases have helped contribute to their success. 

Listening to customers is vital – it means we provide the right sort of products for them and they in turn will remain loyal to us. Good customer service and responding to customer needs should be a cornerstone of any business. It’s certainly key to our growth.

Innovate Regularly

By listening to customers and keeping abreast of trends, we can provide new and exciting products, which in turn they can serve up to their customers. These might be different sized pizza bases or pizza bases that can be used in different ways, such as our Panizza ® folded flat breads. There’s been huge growth in street food and festival catering in the last few years, which has given us a number of opportunities. 

The food service catering sector is constantly changing so new product development should always be on the agenda. Having said that, people have been eating pizza for hundreds of years, and will no doubt still be eating pizza in hundreds of years, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find new ways of serving it!

Create a Good Team

Having the right team in place is important in so many ways. It provides stability and is vital to business progress. 

At Gusto Foods we work together. There’s no ‘them and us’, and we encourage all our team to focus on the same goals - customer satisfaction.

Remain True to Your Principles

There are few things in life more important than the food we eat. I see our choice of food as an investment in our health. 

I believe strongly in producing food that has good nutritional value and doesn’t contain additives, and one of the lessons I’ve learned is that remaining true to your principles is essential, whether that’s in business or in life generally.