Fabulously popular, with queues around the block and a variation of a signature—somewhat cheeky—theme throughout each location, the founders of the Big Mamma group of restaurants, Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux, speak to Quintessentially about their success and inspirations behind their London, Paris, and Lille restaurants.
Keven Amfo: You guys are French! What made you want to open Italian restaurants? Will you ever open a French restaurant?
Victor Lugger & Tigrane Seydoux: We both have a great love and passion for Italian cuisine. We are pretty sure we have tomato sauce instead of blood in our veins! So, for now, we will continue sharing the Italian love with our squadra.
All of your restaurants are so beautiful and design-led. Are atmosphere and aesthetics as important as the food?
Having a memorable meal is not just about the food you're eating, but about the whole experience of the place. Even if you had the most delicious Neapolitan pizza ever, if it served in a cold, rigid environment, the food will not be as great as it could be. When the food is paired with a vibrant atmosphere and great people, it becomes next-level. We don't merely feed people; we share a moment with them and try to make their experience with us the best part of their day.
Can you expand Mamma Primi, so the wait isn't so long?! Just kidding (half) - but what is behind the ethos of minimal reservations, which are de rigueur in most of Europe?
Our goal is to offer the best price-quality ratio, so we can offer the same amazing taste we know from Italy. We choose to work directly with small producers to serve and use the best products that are available. However, to propose this price-quality ratio, we had to find an alternative to the traditional restaurant system. You might not be aware, but delays and cancellations have a considerable cost to restaurants, so for us, the answer to this problem was to put a waitlist system in place, so no table can go to waste. We always strive to optimise it, for example, by taking your phone number to let you know when your table is ready, so you can enjoy a drink before your meal and not have to wait outside in the rain.
Which of your restaurants is your favourite?
Each of our trattorias and our food market is unique, and we love them immensely. They each focus on a different, specific part of the Italian cuisine. For example, the Steak Alla Fiorentina in Pink Mamma, or the sharing plates and big parties we have at Circolo Popolare. We can't say we love one child more than the other; otherwise, one of the chefs might throw us in the pizza oven!
What is your favourite meal/restaurant in the world outside of one of your own?
There are many small trattorias in Italy, which we absolutely love to bits. Cammillo Trattoria is this very authentic and traditional trattoria in Firenze, a place where time stops. There is always a table near the kitchen reserved for the restauranteur's family, where they all come and have lunch together. They have one of the best and most tender Steak Alla Fiorentina in the whole of Firenze - definitely, a must-try. These are the restaurants that gave us the desire to create a trattoria, to remind us of this very typical warm ambiance and endless generosity.
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