Felicetti Pasta with Riccardo Felicetti
Riccardo Felicetti was in Sicily when we met on Zoom. He showed off the beautiful landscape, and while it was technically a business trip, he cheekily said it was "50% business, 50% vacation." In the first three minutes, Riccardo showed appreciation for his Italian surroundings — mirroring the respect he holds for his heritage in pasta production.
Riccardo hails from the Dolomites in northern Italy. His family has lived in that area for more than 100 years; it was there in 1908 that his great grandfather, Valentino Felicetti, started Pastificio Felicetti.
Now, as the fourth generation to run the company, Riccardo and his brothers are continuing the legacy of Felicetti and the values it holds.
And they've prepared. When watching the third generation, Riccardo mentioned seeing serious disagreements: “One of the first things we tried to manage is not to have big conflicts together. That is what we are trying to continue in the last 25 years.”
Clearly by the company’s dedication to family ownership and Riccardo and his brother’s dedication to productive partnership, a close and connected family is very important.
“Normally a modern company markets production or the product, but we try to always have our people in the center of the company,” Riccardo said.
Working with his family all his life, Riccardo recounts the positives. “It’s exceptional working together with family members because they own a very deep knowledge of pasta-making and its importance.”
These values of family and collectivity are also motivated outside the family. “We try to transfer those values to our employees, in order to let them be our representatives,” he said.
Not only does Felicetti value family, but they also value the place their family came from. Up in the Dolomites, Riccardo recalls nature being a pinnacle aspect of everyday life. “When you're living in the middle of the mountains, you have to follow the turns of the seasons and adapt to that,” he said. “You will have a deep connection with nature.”
Those adaptations were adopted by the Felicetti family in the production of their pasta, when the moisture of the air, the temperature, and the natural resources are all considered.
The production can be altered in order to meet the changes in nature, but Felicetti made sure to take it a step forward more. The production of their pasta had to respect nature as well.
“The most important decision was not to abuse nature’s resources, but use them in the renewable way,” Riccardo said. “We stopped, for example, using oil to produce energy and we work with water current generation in order to produce electricity.”
Felicetti Pasta captures energy from photovoltaic and cogeneration plants to produce more than 90% of the necessary energy. They are also moving towards reduced plastic. “Since July of last year, we were the first company in the world to use 100% paper bags to pack our pasta,” Riccardo said.
But the factory and its production is only one part of the whole sustainable equation. Felicetti also focuses on sourcing organic durum wheat from farmers who treat their land well, as this is a sign that the farmer shares the same regard to producing a high quality product. The move to organic started 25 years ago; Riccardo said that this “organic mentality” ties in with sustaining agriculture and promoting the value for good, authentic farming.
“Our idea was not saying ‘This is organic, therefore it’s good,’ but this is good and it’s organic,” he said.
When you think of Felicetti, you think of family, sustainability, passion for premier production, and commitment to organic farming. But, how could we forget about the best part — the pasta itself!
“Pasta is a beautiful product which may be combined with hundreds of different products. Pasta is an absolute winner,” Riccardo said. “We are working for your happiness, and we have a huge privilege when we are making people happy when they’re having lunch. We couldn’t have a better job.”
And with that, I smiled and remembered I had a pack of Felicetti linguine in my pantry — just in time for lunch. I asked Riccardo for some inspiration on what to make. “I love carbonara,” he said with a big smile. “Bacon, eggs, pecorino, black pepper… and no cream!”