Every so often we come across someone whose energy is so infectious; someone with a passion for life, food, and making a difference in the way we eat, that we can't help but feel a kinship immediately. Giulio Piccioli is one such individual, and we are excited to share more about his culinary project One Big Table based in Kelowna, British Columbia.
One Big Table is a cooperative-owned grocery store dedicated to providing customers with the best of local and seasonal foods, including our six GRAIN retail boxed items. We were so happy to get a few minutes with Giulio, and hope you enjoy getting to know him too!
Q&A with Giulio Piccioli of One Big Table
What inspired One Big Table?
For a long time, we hosted renegade dinners. Hyper-local in nature and always incredibly meaningful for both our guests and our crew, these dinners really helped us get our concept on the map. However, we soon grew restless because of the relatively small audience we could reach through these events. What we envisioned was a place we could do what we do on a daily basis: and so the idea of a neighborhood grocery store was born.
Is there any one value, or several, that inform your sourcing philosophy?
If I had to choose a word that best summarizes what we want to cultivate it must be: participation. The wish is to get our guests involved in the process of buying by sharing the story, the values and the methods that the products they are purchasing were created with.
The result? You are not just buying that product but you are, in a sense, helping to produce it: you are a co-producer.
What was the most surprising thing about opening your business?
I was surprised how hard the first month being open felt. I was not expecting it despite friends and mentors warning me about it.
It sort of felt like being underwater, occasionally managing to come up gasping for air. Overall not a nice feeling. The reflection that kept haunting me was this idea of realizing a dream and how that very same dream did not feel so idyllic - on the contrary.
I guess it’s tricky when you are so focused on the day to day to zoom out and really take in and remember all you have done, and all you have accomplished. 8 months in now, that feeling has subsided. It returns in waves at times but it is sort of familiar and so not as scary.
We love your business name. Can you elaborate on this choice of name for your concept?
I think we have all experienced the magic of One Big Table. The idea of strangers becoming friends beyond language, differences being accepted because of the sharing of a simple action: eating together.
While food is central to creating this experience it is almost also an excuse; in reality, it is the action of sitting at the table that creates that magic.
What is the best part about being an entrepreneur?
What I have enjoyed the most about being an entrepreneur has been having the luxury and the responsibility to actively contribute to a community I wish to live in.
If you could look into the future 10 years, what big picture change would you hope to be a part of?
Definitely to develop a sustainable strategy to bring wholesome food to schools.