Name (s): Oliver Greenhalgh
Where’s home? Kingston
Did you go to university? Yes
If so.. Where did you go, what did you study and how did you do?
I went to Leeds and did design management which incorporated product design and marketing, and I got a 2:1
Was it necessary in hindsight to what you’re doing now?
To some extent yes. I learnt a lot about business and branding. This was a really important part in the setting up of RaviOllie and a bit that I really enjoyed. I learnt how to use creativity and use design processes to come up with new ideas, which are things that I am using constantly with menu design and future ideas for improvements. There is a big link between design and food so I think there are a lot of transferable skills.
Was it a clear-cut path after you left in terms of what you wanted to do?
Not at all. I left uni thinking that a marketing role would be right for me however having managed to get an internship in a marketing roll, I realised that I was very wrong. I knew I had to get into the right industry and then decide my place, so I decided to try something challenging and completely different. I always dreamt of being self-employed but it was finding something I was truly interested in doing.
What pressures do you think many twenty-somethings are faced with?
Ahh there are so many, which is the problem itself! You gain a lot of independence at uni and I think this is something that becomes a self-induced pressure afterwards. We put pressure on ourselves to get a really good job straight away just so that we can afford to keep up the lifestyles that we want to. I.e pay the ridiculous rent prices, go out and face up to having to pay back the student loan.
Another is the competition around with the number of people going to uni. It means people are under pressure to do more training and get more qualifications on top of uni just to try to stand out. It’s a lot to try to juggle.
Exactly what is RaviOllie?
RaviOllie is a new street food concept selling homemade ravioli. The ravioli is accompanied with a choice of homemade infused olive oil’s with sides of garlic sourdough toast and mixed salad. They are filled with only the best quality locally sourced, free range ingredients. The aim of the business is to re-invent ravioli and bring restaurant standard ravioli to the public through a new street food concept.
When did you realise you wanted to go into cooking?
RaviOllie is an idea I came up with during my training to become a chef. Fresh ravioli is so delicious yet all that is available to everyone is the poor quality supermarket stuff. You have to search out fairly high-end restaurants to get ravioli as it should be and it doesn’t need to be that way. I want to try and change this and make real fresh pasta that isn’t dried or pasteurized more available to people. I started getting into cooking at Leeds and enjoyed it a lot, although I never saw it as a career option at the time! During a summer internship in a marketing role I realised I wanted to get into the food industry. I wanted to enjoy my work and I knew that I would be able to if I was cooking and creating all day.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in setting up RaviOllie?
Getting into the good street food markets in London. Street food is in such a boom at the moment-which means there is a huge amount of competition for these pitches in London. The application process is extensive and very nerve racking! There is a lot of pressure on it too as the business is all about being in the right spot that suits the product.
Tell us about how street markets play a role within RaviOllie?
It has given me a fantastic opportunity to test out my ravioli on the public. It is face to face with customers and so you hear and see the reactions to your food straight away. This is something I love about it too, as there is a huge amount of satisfaction from the interaction with customers and receiving positive feedback.
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
Family, girlfriend and friends! There’s no way I would have had the confidence to do it without the support of the people closest to me. People are so encouraging and supportive which really spurs you on. My dad was particular key, being an entrepreneur himself, he is giving me constant advise and support. Lil’s (my girlfriend) has given me a huge amount of support and help since the start which has been amazing- definitely running low on free credits though!
Best piece of advice?
Stick to your principles. The core of the business is built on quality, fresh and interesting tastes. Its been important keeping this piece of advice in mind when I it comes to deciding the next steps.
What do you have to remain consistent about in running your company?
Consistent quality is the key. Having kept the quality high, people have really started to see the uniqueness of what we are selling. This then leads to regular customers, which is what street food is all about.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
All the time, in fact it must get really annoying for people. The constant support I’ve had and the reception that the business has received has been amazing. That’s what keeps me going and keeps the confidence in the business up.
How do you market yourselves?
Social media is important. We’ve had a nice website build as well. I am just trying to focus on having fun on social media, showing people what we are up to in the kitchen and what’s coming up and letting it grow kind of organically.
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
How much work it was going to be hand rolling each individual ravioli to sell throughout the week!
Any disasters along the way?
The freezer turned off and all the ravioli inside de-frosted. Pretty disastrous and a major clean up job!
Any personality traits you never realised you had setting up RaviOllie?
I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy chatting to customers. Working in the restaurant I never really got to do it and you would never hear the feedback on what you were cooking. A lot of foodie people come to the street food markets so its great chatting to them and hearing what they think of the food.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in this field?
Do it. You get to meet great people and eat great food so if you have a new idea then why not!
What do you think the next steps are for you?
I want to keep expanding into other street food markets. There are so many markets in London and each one with an entirely different demographic. I would love to reach a level where I have some RaviOllie stalls all over London. Some sort of RaviOllie take over. I want to try everything and anything for my first year to see where I think it will succeed the most.
What pasta dish (include sauce) would you cook if you wanted to impress us and why?
The pork and caramelised onion ravioli with a sage butter. This is a pretty unusual thing to find inside RaviOllie but it is slow cooked for about 12 hours with plenty of tender love and care. You’d love it.
What has been your best moment so far?
Having Jane Devonshire who won Masterchef taste my food-pleased to report that she loved it!
What’s the dream?
The dream of course is a restaurant so fingers crossed. It’s a long way off but how cool would that be.
Are you sick of pasta?
God yer! I couldn’t get enough of it at the start and now I’m gluten intolerant!
Like RaviOllie on Facebook here
Click here for the website