Spotlight on Isotta Peira
by Susannah Grant
This month we dive into the life of Savonna-born, former travel operator, juvenile butcher extraordinaire, volleyball player and duelling fanatic, Isotta Peira who now runs her own food experience company in La Latina.
Having studied French and Spanish, you first came to Spain in 2013 to work in the travel industry. Tell us about what that period of your life.
It was a highly frenetic, crazy few years. Italy was deep in recession so I moved to Madrid to take a telemarketing job selling cruises. I ended up sharing a flat with two other Italian friends and we were all working hideously long hours, 6 days a week. Life was pretty intense as the job was highly competitive and we partied about as hard as we worked. Later on, I got to travel frequently to France, Morocco and India which was a definitely plus point.
You started helping out at your grandparents´ butchers´shop when you were 6, how did that prompt you to make a career out of food?
That was a truly memorable part of my life. I became transfixed by the magic of transforming ingredients from one state to another and also by the respect a butcher has for the animal. My passion for food and minimising waste definitely stems from those days.
What was it like working as a chef in an Indian restaurant in London in 2009?
At first it was quite hard as I discovered I had a minor intolerance to coriander which appeared in every single recipe! Fortunately I´ve got over that now.
A lot of people think that the Spanish are very similar to the Italians, what similarities and differences have you noticed?
That’s true! We are like cousins ahah. Of course, depending on the region we come from, there can be more similarities or differences. Both nationalities are fiercely proud of our cultures and talk very loudly! I see that Spaniards are better at switching off after work, something I´m trying to learn!
Tell us about the supper club dinners you organised before the pandemic.
Andrea, my Bolivian wife and I hosted our first social dinner in November 2018 with a view to offering authentic home-cooked food in a cosy environment where people from different cultures could comfortably socialise. It was a huge success so we created the brand Eatsperience Madrid, and it is now my fulltime job. We have organised many a themed evenings such as gnocchi nights and unusual pairings such as artisanal gelato with savoury food.
What part has sport played in your life?
When I arrived in Madrid I played for an amateur women´s volleyball team which was great fun and very social. Hopefully, I will have more time to join up again after Covid. As a child I took up fencing seriously and became a teacher myself until I went away to University.
What is your secret Madrid?
When I feel homesick, I go to Mangitalia: an Italian Shop in Calle Galileo. The Italian and Spanish owners have treated me like family from the moment I set foot in the place.
Tell us about your charity work with the elderly in Madrid
My close relationship with my grandmother instilled deep admiration for the elderly and I was introduced to the Fundación Alicia y Guillermo by one of my volleyball team-mates. I have been keeping a lady in her late 80s company for several years. She loves to recount the time when she, as RENFE (train) employee she met the former Queen Sofía of Spain.
What ingredients would you take with you if you were confined on a desert island?
Mangos – I could eat mangos all day! Raw meat with parmesan, followed by carrots and fennel and heaps of pasta on the off-chance I could boil up some water!