After 28 years, of traveling, working and tasting around the world, I believe it is time to tell you my story and share with you, some of my experiences. My first international experience started in New York, when I was 18 years old, ready to discover the world. My notebook full of plans and a concrete project. I left for New York... I was going to launch the Belgian Waffles in the Big Apple. It was a great and tough experience...starting from the distribution of flyers in the Grand Central Terminal station, housekeeping in Staten Island and serving in a restaurant in the Tribeca area. The waffle concept, however, I realized a couple of years later, across the Atlantic in Portugal.
Back in Belgium, I started my professional career at giant American sportswear company, the VF group. I was appointed as Product Manager Lee Jeans Europe. After 2 years, I moved to the leading worldwide sports retailer 'Intersport International Group' in Bern, Switzerland, to start as Brand Manager Europe, developing, managing and launching their textile collections with their European affiliates.
3 years later, I was sent to Portugal as Country Sourcing and Quality Manager, controlling all production and sourcing of their products.
The set up of new concepts has always been my cup of tea, after all these years, I dare call it my 'retail instinct'...In Portugal and next to my existing job, I created and launched 4 years later, my first own retail concept...'Carciofi'. A new Italian fast food concept. I opened a first take away store in a shopping mall in Oporto, 6 months later a first franchise store opened its doors (complete franchise concept) in Braga and 1 year later, the 'street restaurant concept' in Vila do Conde (an exclusive seaside resort next to Oporto).
The success of the concept, was mainly due to the fact that we offered a different way of eating Italian pizza, offering, instead of the typical pan pizza with an excess of ingredients. We offered a thin crusty taste full masa with just enough ingredients...so less but much better quality.
This, presented in a nice original concept, combined with an excellent service, were considered as different and new and became very popular.
In line with our pizza concept, we launched our very successful homemade ice cream and the famous Belgian waffles (finally..here they are..).. under the name 'Babette', but integrated into our 'Carciofi' concept. The results were in line with the success of Carciofi and very soon we opened 3 ice cream parlors in the north of Portugal.
As the pizza from Carciofi became the talk of the town, we also started our pizza corner in the main disco of Oporto, the 'Pacha' with an tremendous success.
CARCIOFI...THE WHOLE STORY... some impressions.
Some product images