Five with Fox: James & Rebecca, Nonna Tonda
Five short questions with the current movers and shakers of food, drink and design. Rich ragu. Fresh pesto. The perfect snow-dusting of parmesan atop a gleaming golden nest of carby goodness. Nobody does comfort food quite like the Italians — except for those who discovered Nonna Tonda.
The brainchild of couple James and Rebecca, Nonna Tonda's magnifico pasta boxes contain everything you need to whip up a deliciously authentic pasta dish in five minutes flat. We are talking indulgent sauces, vibrant garnishes, and fresh pasta lovingly made by James in the morning and delivered to your door. Think of them as care packages from the Italian grandmother you never knew you needed.
Each week, they deliver fresh pasta and delicious sauces to your door, ready to cook and eat in under 5 minutes. In 2017, they packed up their possessions and 6-month-old son, Freddie, and went off on a tour of Italy to learn the authentic way to make fresh pasta. This served as inspiration for the fresh pasta and homemade sauces they managed to create and now deliver to your door. Made each morning, their pasta is the freshest around, made with high quality, fresh ingredients.
1. What sparked your initial desire to pack up and travel around Italy?
Rebecca: We had both actually previously lived in Italy before we got together! I did the Charles H. Cecil fine art course in Florence. I absolutely adored Florence, and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. This experience certainly sparked my love of Italian culture, particularly the cuisine. The pasta is just to die for, and I could not get enough of it! Surrounded by the stunning architecture and friendly Italian faces, it really was pasta heaven.
James: I always had the desire to travel around Italy from a young age. When I was a teenager, I learnt from the amazing Anna del Conte, who taught me the principles of Italian cooking. I am so grateful to her for taking the time to teach me the essentials about proper, homemade Italian cooking, the traditional way, and this certainly caused my love for Italian cooking to grow. When I was 20 years old, I did an Italian cooking course in Asti, in the Piedmont region. I then worked at the Michelin star L’Erba del Re, where I learnt how to really master my fresh pasta making.
We often talked about these experiences and how much we both loved living and studying in Italy, so we thought why not make our dreams reality and do a proper trip to all the places we adore, as well as exploring new regions and seeing what this amazing country had to offer. We really wanted to experience Italy together this time, along with our 6-month-old son, Freddie. The trip was unforgettable, and it is so strange to think how time has passed and what great things have come of it. Freddie has just celebrated his 4th birthday!
2. What was your favourite place in Italy and why?
Rebecca: I would have to say Florence. It really combines my two passions in life (aside from my children) - art and pasta! For me, the combination of the incredible art and architecture of the city, and the delicious food, is unbeatable. I still do my own paintings and sketches, and this is something I have recently got back into during my pregnancy leave (we are expecting another baby in December!).
James: For me, I would say Sicily. The coastline there is breathtaking, and the island produces the best fresh ingredients for cooking. I can spend hours at the markets there admiring all the incredible produce with its depth of flavour.
3. What have you found the hardest part of starting a business to be?
Rebecca: The hardest part is probably the early hours. James had to get up at 2.30/3am (he still does most days!).
James: Logistics were probably the crux of most of our problems starting out. Running a team of cyclists and vans through central London is not the easiest task!
I think another thing is definitely having to juggle our time focusing on the business and our time with the children. We have managed to establish a good balance now, but at the start, it was very full-on, and so it was a bit of a struggle, especially during the height of the pandemic when we could not have any family members over to help out!
4. What is the best part of the job? Eating the pasta?
James: Of course! I would also say having the chance to design seasonal dishes using great products both from the UK and Europe. I love trialling variations of traditional Italian dishes and experimenting with flavours.
We have also built up a team of family and friends who have helped us along the way, and a lot are still helping us, so getting to working alongside them has been a real treat! My sisters and my cousin all work on the customer service team at the moment, and we have friends helping out with the social media, the driving logistics, the accounts… everything! It really is a proper family business.
Rebecca: I would say working together is just so great. Putting our ideas and creativity together. Because we know each other so well, the creativity really flows, and we are always coming up with fresh ideas.
5. What is each of your favourite cocktails or drink? And why?
James: I would have to go for a Negroni. It is typically Italian and gets straight to the point! A cold Peroni after a day’s work also never goes amiss…
Rebecca: Definitely an Aperol Spritz for me – great for Aperitivo! I have spent many a time sitting in the evening sun, enjoying these both in Italy and the UK.
Check out our joint giveaway here and head to their website here to get 50% off your first two orders!