Interview with Davide Rizzoli, Mini’s Food founder
Hi Davide, tell us how you got involved in the edible insects world
Hi! The first time I heard about edible insect was during a food safety lesson in my university. That time I found out some potential of insects, e.g., of how efficient they are in transforming feed into body mass. I was impressed and so I started to get closer to the entomophagy world. After a few weeks to google “how to breed cricket” I thought to combine some skills. I am a cook who is continuing his studies, where I am learning about food safety and that’s how Mini’s was born: combining my studies in a single project.
Talk about Mini’s Food project
While I was looking for info about edible insects, I realized there were two problems: there is too little information and for many people insects are disgusting and far from the idea to be something to eat.
Who would eat a whole grasshopper in a single bite? I did it, and it was not easy. Insects are a food with big potential, but today I guess only few people will eat insects on their own accord. This is Mini’s target, to break down that cultural taboo that prevents us from eating insects. We are doing this through recipes and other social content. We made eating insects normal for us, hoping to transmit positive value to the viewer.
What’s the feedback from your public?
Mini’s was a little revelation, I never thought about all this support from friends and people I didn’t know before. Feedback is super positive, many more people than we expected are enjoying the videos e we received many requests for an insect-based dinner with us!
Italy has a great culinary tradition, do you think edible insects will be part of it?
There are several ways you can feel the traditions. Traditions may be untouchable: for example I will never think of a pizza margherita with crickets on it, this will not add any value to the tradition. There are other traditions that are ready to be improved, e.g. I could add some cricket flour to the pizza dough, increasing the protein value. We accepted integral dough, vegetable charcoal pizza, I think we will accept insect pizza dough too.
What’s the role of professional chefs in promoting entomophagy?
Chefs are the pioneers of innovations in the kitchen, even within our homes. Ever since my sister watches culinary programs, my home kitchen become the kitchen of a Michelin starred restaurant. Except when I cook. Recently, Michelin Guide introduced the “Green Star”, a recognition for sustainability conscious chefs. This award and other initiative will be promoters of entomophagy diffusion in professional kitchens, and in our kitchens too.
And what’s the role of your generation?
My generation has a duty: to preserve and improve the sustainability projects born in the last decade. Protein derived from insects are a proposal born on this occasion. As far as I see through my channels, my generation is replying well to this novelty.
However, I think the central factor are not the chefs or the generations, but what insects can offer in organoleptic terms.
What are your projects for the future?
The closest goal is to organize insect-based dinner, with just a few guests at a time. They will be reserved events, where the contact between chef and guest will be an essential to carry on the culinary experience. Also, I am collaborating with other professionals to create an entomophagy community.