“Cooking is like acting. You create. You have a message. You make people happy. It brushes your ego…so it feels good.”
Nuvola, A Little Bakery
Nuvola was an actor before she dove headfirst into a career in baking. It’s not that the idea came out of nowhere, as Nuvola says, “After all, I’m Italian, good food and cooking is just a part of life.” To anyone that grew up in a culture, and or a family, who’s daily rhythms centered around preparing, then enjoying meals together, this sentiment should resonate.
The parallels of acting to food and cooking might not seem obvious at first, but when you hear Nuvola describe them you start to connect the dots. As an actor Nuvola was never pretending to be someone, she adopted the persona and it became part of her. Consequently, each role inevitably took on part of Nuvola too. This is something Nuvola’s customers over the years, many at her former shop in Tooting Market, understand personally. You see, Nuvola is a woman full of life. Her energy, her passion, her love of people are infectious. Her heart and personality shine through every morsel of her delectable creations. Whether it’s a cake for a special occasion, a warm cinnamon bun fresh out of the oven, or her famous vegan brownies, Nuvola’s energy shines through every bite. This is something you almost can’t put your finger on, but I think you know what I’m talking about: when you keep on going back to your favorite spots, not only for the amazing tastes, but because of the way those special few people make you feel as you enjoy their food. That’s Nuvola.
In 2008 Nuvola enrolled in a professional pastry program in Rome. She has cooked or baked every day since, fully immersing herself in the learning process. She came to London with her family in 2013 working with the Food Fairies. She would eventually land a position at the famous Ottolenghi. Months into making pastries there, Nuvola knew she had to move on and work for herself. She loved the experience, but wanted to be the creator every day and she felt she was ready to take the leap, and so she started Nuvola, A Little Bakery in Tooting Market.
She and her bakery were a hit. People just couldn’t get enough. In getting to know Nuvola the past year, first in person in London, and since via email and Skype, I’m not surprised at all. Her zeal for life makes you want to linger in conversation to soak up just a little more of her light. Her customers feel the same when enjoying her goods. You see, when someone like Nuvola puts her heart and soul into food, made with the best ingredients, with the intention to create joy, that’s the thing that you can’t put your finger on, that only the special few possess.
Nuvola would be the first to downplay what I’m describing. To her she can’t imagine being any other way. Perhaps this comes from those fleeting moments growing up when her family was around a table together. Growing up had its ups and downs, but when Nuvola’s family did gather around a table to eat together, all was right in the world – priceless memories were created. It was her happy place. How could it not be, when Sunday lunch with her grandmother consisted of her pasta al forno, with mini polpette, mozzarella and tomato sauce jarred by the family each summer to last the year.
“My parents were hippies, they traveled a lot and always brought back something from the countries they visited… like spices from India, Morocco, Turkey. And they both were always experimenting and cooking different things. My mom went through various phases, but she taught me about Indian cuisine when nobody in Italy knew about it, she cooked lots of macrobiotic dishes, we had our vegetarian and pescatarian years. My father was very good with sweets and bakes.”
This upbringing shaped Nuvola’s sensibility and palate profoundly. This also instilled a love of travel, of seeing the world. Everywhere she goes, whether it be Europe, North Africa, or the States, she takes bits of inspiration and applies them to her craft. Her upbringing, her travels, or acting career, her family, all of her life experiences come through in her work. With her diverse set of life experiences, Nuvola is able to look at cooking and baking through a wide lense.
“I guess for me eating should be an holistic experience. From the moment you buy/grow/forage the ingredients which should be seasonal and as natural as possible… to the moment you cook and create your dish, that’s an organic, holistic ritual… you’re eating to feed yourself but also to nurture and feel good. And sometimes it’s a shared experience so you’re creating a bond with the people you’re eating with or cooking for. It’s social, it’s a form of love, it’s generous. It’s slow food vs fast food.”
Do you love creating yummy food? Have you ever thought about monetizing that passion? You don’t have to be a professional chef or make food your full-time job. Plates let’s you share doing what you love with your community on your schedule!
These words sum up Nuvola’s ethos, while at the same time doing justice to our ethos at Plates. It’s fitting we found eachother to work together to spread our collective missions throughout the world.
“I studied at the National school of cinema in Rome and at guildhall school of music and drama in London. I truly wanted to become a famous actress… I love movies and theatre and I tried for almost 15 years to make it… it was good and hard at the same time, waiting for the phone call, for the judgement, for someone to choose you. then I became a mother and priorities shifted… it wasn’t about me anymore. I guess you need to be focused very much on yourself to make it out there and I wasn’t, I would rather entertain my children, my friends, be with my family more than go on a tournée. It is instant gratification on the stage especially but to get there it takes lots of sacrifice and I wasn’t strong enough to do both. Also I needed to be in charge of my life and I wasn’t… someone else decides for you.”
One of the things that drew Nuvola to Plates is that idea that you don’t have to wait for the call anymore. You make what you want, when you want, and there is a beauty in being able to meet your customers face to face, just like in the shop in Tooting.
Nuvola is our first chef in London, and our first outside the US. We can’t think of a better person to play the role of leading actor and pave the way for other likeminded chefs, to share nourishment, build community, foster connection, and grow a movement towards better food for us all.