Last Monday, we shared some exciting carb-related news about a new pasta-delivery service called Al Dente.
Italian chef Andrea Vignali started it five weeks ago, to help pay the bills after he was stood down from his job at Melbourne institution Grossi Florentino due to the coronavirus shutdown.
But what a difference a week makes.
The good news: this week he’s finally back in the kitchen at Florentino. The bad news: his tortellini with cacio e pepe filling, potato gnocchi, and beef-and-pork lasagne are off the menu – for now.
“I started [Al Dente] because I didn’t have a job, and now I have it back,” Vignali says. “And I’m so happy to be back with the team.”
Vignali is in Australia on a working visa sponsored by the restaurant, so when coronavirus hit, he wasn’t eligible to work for another company. (Nor was he eligible for any of the government’s stimulus packages.)
In just over a month, Al Dente became an undeniable success. Vignali went from $400 in orders in the first week to a whopping $10,000 last week. “That’s 1800 tortellini, 10 kilos of gnocchi and 30 portions of tagliatelle,” he says. “And it was mainly me doing it all week – I had some friends helping me, but I couldn’t employ anyone.”
While it’s bittersweet to put Al Dente on the backburner, Vignali’s grateful for the opportunity to return to Florentino. “I can’t complain, and I would be selfish if I wanted to keep going with it now,” he says.
He hopes to get back to the business “in a year or so” when his citizenship comes through. But not leaving his employer in the lurch is top of mind right now.
“I would never just leave what I’m doing, run away,” he says. “I’d want to make sure Guy [Grossi]’s okay because he always took care of me, and I will do the same for him.”