The Gals Behind Nella Pasta: They’re as Local as You Can Get

The staff here at CoupMe loves supporting local businesses, whether it’s sampling out-of-this-world cheese and sauces at the Farmer’s market or buying from the hidden gem, mom & pop shop instead of the famous brand name one. Lately, we’ve gotten the chance to have a little local taste of our own, from featuring the Newport Winefest on our site in August (which had a plethora of local, specialty wine and food) to featuring and attending the New England Dessert Showcase this past weekend (with New England’s finest dessert designers). Let’s just say we were in our glory, and all those sweets definitely hit the spot.

So, with all our local love (and love for food) you can image how excited we were to hear about the Boston Local Food Festival on Oct 2nd. The festival will feature hundreds of local vendors including farms, restaurants, health & fitness and many more. CoupMe staff member Rachel was lucky enough to meet with one of the featured vendors: Nella Pasta. After chatting with the two young women entrepreneurs, Rachel Marshall and Leigh Foster, (and tasting some of their delicious pasta), we felt their story was worth sharing with YOU. I’ll let the Nella girls take over from here!

RC: So you girls are quite the young entrepreneurs. When and how did you come up with Nella Pasta?

Nella: We came up with the idea at our previous job… Needless to say it was not the right job for us! After we realized that we both attended cooking classes in Florence Italy only months apart from one another, we began bonding over our shared interest in food. When homemade pasta, in particular, kept coming up in conversation we had this “aha” moment that we could actually start a business out of our shared interest.

RC: What makes your pasta “special” or unique in some way?

Nella: Our pasta is not authentically Italian. Instead, we focus on making our pasta healthy and delicious using whole grains and unique ingredients usually not found in pasta like ground flaxseeds and locally sourced produce. Some of our varieties such as roasted beet, fresh herb and roasted red pepper can certainly be found in Italy, but our southwestern black bean ravioli? Not so much. Through this business we have formed lasting relationships with local farmers who supply us with fresh herbs, vegetables, and most recently, locally grown wheat that make our product unique.

RC: I know your pasta is local, fresh and healthy. Can you go into a bit more detail into why you created it this way and what goes into your pastas/ravioli?

Nella: It’s a simple concept that isn’t considered often enough– why buy a zucchini that is shipped from Ecuador when you can find one close to home, at the peak of its freshness? When you buy locally, you are not only getting the best quality ingredients, but they travel a far less distance to reach your plate, thus lowering your ecological footprint. An added bonus? You’re also supporting the local economy. That’s why you will never find an asparagus ravioli in October or a pumpkin ravioli in April (but trust me, we’ve been asked!).

RC: What’s your favorite part of the job?

Nella: Everything we’ve learned along the way. We came into this business with a solid knowledge of food and a bit of business expertise. Now we’re creating a name for our ourselves as leaders (OK, we’re getting there) of Boston’s Local Food Movement. Our closest business relationships tend to be with the farmers whom we buy our ingredients from rather than store owners or other business contacts. OK, wearing sweat pants and eating cheese stuffed pasta on a daily basis isn’t so bad either.

RC: You’ll be at the Boston Local Food Festival on Oct 2. What are you most excited about?

Nella: We’re downright giddy about debuting our even-more-local pasta, made with wheat grown at Four Stars Farms in Northfield, MA. We sincerely hope that the demand is out there enough that we can begin to phase out all-purpose white flour altogether and focus on the heartier local variety. We’re also both suckers for fall flavors and have a serious soft spot for our roasted carrot, parsnip and maple roasted pecan pesto.

RC: Any interesting facts about the two of you some may not know?

Nella: Hmmm…. two odd facts: Rachel was a Criminal Justice major in college (in sunny FL) and Leigh used to be in the fashion business with her own belt company she started in high school. Also- our dogs, Finn & Bentley, are best friends.

RC: Also saw that you made it on one of the top contestants of DailyCandy’s Start Small, Go Big Contest. Why should people vote for you?

Nella: We are so thrilled to have been named finalists in the contest and yes, we’re dying to win! Since Nella Pasta is the only finalist in the New England area, our win would help bring attention to the Local Food Movement in Boston and hopefully encourage others to source their ingredients locally. We’re also at a serious turning point in our business where we’re ready to expand and with the funding and attention we would receive from the contest, we can take the necessary steps to get Nella Pasta into local specialty stores all around Boston (read: ravioli near you!)

RC: Thanks girls and good luck!


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