MAPIC Italy – Milan Food Tour

The day before the official start of MAPIC Italy, I was lucky to be part of an ‘elite’ party given a guided tour of the great and good of Milanese foodservice. JLL Foodservice Consulting are the exclusive Foodservice Partner to MAPIC and MAPIC Italy and, on the eve of the first F&B Retail Summit, a coach load of conference speakers, panel members, event organisers and myself, toured ‘what’s hot’ in the home city of the slow food movement.

It was evident as soon as the first part of the tour started, at the recently opened Scalo Milano, that the foodservice trends we set out in 2016/2017 were now emerging in Italy – view our trends book here. Scalo Milano, by the way, is a 31,000 sq m ‘Experience’ Centre located on the outskirts of the City, combining retail, gastronomy and furniture. The focal point of the Centre is gastronomy, an open air amphitheatre of Restaurants, Cafes and Bars, set over 2 levels – a great place for what the Italians do best – ‘see and be seen’.

The first port of call was to Aromatica, part of the CIR Food Group, and very much the ‘Exclusively Random’ of our food trends. Each month, a professional chef takes over the main kitchen to produce their signature dishes and gastronomical delights, with the adjacent Coffee Bar pumping out espressos throughout the day and evening. This rotational approach ensures ‘operator churn’ – very much like the 1 month Street Food tenures at Trinity Leeds, in an attempt to keep the offer fresh and innovative and to increase guest visits.

Still at Scalo Milano, our foodservice trend ‘U-Turning’ was evident at Spontini, a Milanese institution since 1953. The brand, sells only one thing, pizza, and only one variety – Margherita. The only variant to this is a small slice or a big slice. Focussing on only doing one product line exceptionally well, rather than being all things to all people and doing it badly, is very much at the forefront of the concept. The brand has ‘grown up’ at Scalo, sporting a modern, bright unit design but still selling the evidently popular pizza slice.

At Fresco, the All Day Every Day trend was in evidence, with the merchandising counter set up to work from breakfast through the evening. As the owner stated –‘we cannot survive by only serving lunch and dinner’. Making the assets sweat, both the unit and the staff, is key to maximising trading potential at this growing concept.

Finally at Scalo, Doppio Malto showcases the ‘I Am What I Drink’ trend – a brewery with 12 varieties of artisan, craft beer, with over 70 worldwide awards and a brand that has plans to expand throughout Europe – one to watch!

And so onto the coach and a visit to We Love Puro, with made on the premises gelato very much at the forefront of the menu – the ‘Gourmetisation’ of our food trends. A vibrant unit design, complete with 2 instore swings, made for a refreshing Pit Stop offer – and the gelato was to die for.

Onto the Porta Nuova District, the new and futuristic Business Quarter of Milan, and a tour of That’s Vapore, the innovative operator in the ever growing Healthy Fast Casual foodservice category, ‘You Are My Super Hero Food’. The small footprint unit, helped by a remote Central Production Unit, meets the needs of the district’s health conscious office worker by steam cooking all its hot main meals, retaining as much natural taste as possible. The extended coffee and cake offer (with an emphasis on gluten free and dairy free) ensure that the unit trades throughout the day.

A flying showround and lunch at Eataly, the Italian ‘Learn, Eat or Buy’ global brand, reflected the ‘Real Estate Recycling’ trend, all about the repurposing of property. The former Milan landmark theatre that hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra in its heyday, was purchased by Eataly and converted into a 4,500 sqm metropolis of the great and good of Italian produce and ingredients. An amazing Emporium of quality produce for the masses, it’s no wonder that the store is very much on the tourist trail in the City.

A visit to the Corso Vercelli District, the City’s ‘niche’ shopping street and a stop off at what was the highlight of the day for me, Fattorie Garofalo, an homage to the very best in Mozzarella. Transported direct from Naples that morning, the Mozzaralla was stunningly good, and was treated with absolute care and love. Simple dressings and seasonings, with the cheese the star of the show, another example of ‘U-Turning’.

The tour continued, with another key highlight of Cioccolatitaliani Store, the flagship unit of the gourmet chocolatier. Following a recent €1.5 million refurbishment, this chocolate lovers paradise is the first ‘from bean to bar’ unit with a theatre kitchen showcasing tempering of chocolate, chocolate fountains and an amazing merchandising counter.

Finally, but by no means least, a tour of the Duomo Distict including the new concept illy caffe, combining all the history of the brand but in a contemporary setting, Caffe Pacscucci the ever expanding gourmet coffee brand and Ca’puccino, the all day Café offer.

And the grand finale – the iconic Terrazza Aperol, Aperil Spritzer in hand, with views over the Duomo Palace. A breath-taking conclusion to an amazing day of Milanese gastronomy.

All the brands visited are here at MAPIC Italy today, networking with potential Clients, giving food and drink samples and further pushing forward the importance of great concepts, great produce and great environments to produce the points of differentiation required. After MAPIC Italy, the next round of the ‘Unplugged’ roadshow arrives in Paris on 30th May, followed by Brussels on 8th June.

You can download copies of our foodservice trends books here.