Article

Two of a kind: Giuseppe and Francesco

Categories: Behind the stalls

The familiar faces behind De Calabria

Interviews: Viel Richardson
Image: Christopher L Proctor

Giuseppe on Francesco
I first met Francesco back home in Calabria, in southern Italy. I had jointly inherited an abandoned cinema and was working to bring it back to life as an artistic hub. Francesco’s band heard that there might be some rehearsal space there, so he approached me in the street and asked if they could use it. At the time they only played covers, but I was building a creative space, so I told them they could only be part of it if they came back with some original material. Three months later, to their credit, they did. We became friends. At the time, he and his band were the only ones in the town who really connected with what I was trying to do, and that gave me respect for them. We have all become a bit of a family.

Francesco was hanging around the town playing music, with no real plan for the future—most of the work for the locals was as crew on passenger or merchant ships—so when I arrived at a position where I could hire a second person at the Borough Market stall, freeing me up to make more trips back to Calabria, I suggested that he join me.

Francesco loves London, and he loves the social interactions at the Market. He is a very friendly, sociable person. That is one reason I think we work so well together: we complement each other. I am always nice to the customers, of course, but I am not the most outgoing person—Francesco is, and that’s good for me and great for the stall.

Music is Francesco’s real passion, but he also loves food. If he has some nduja and pasta with a guitar nearby, he is happy. One thing I know he really loves is the raclette sold by Kappacasein—he could happily have that every day.

Francesco on Giuseppe
Giuseppe is knowledgeable about so many things. When I first heard of him, it was because of the abandoned cinema. He was doing all the work by himself, which is amazing—it was an enormous task. My band spent a lot of time there, so we got to know each other very well. When he suggested I come to London to work for him, I thought, why not: I had learned a lot from him in my time at the cinema, so the thought of being here in London really appealed.

When we are not at work, he sometimes hangs out with me and my new band, the Gulps. Giuseppe spends a lot of time at cultural events, so we often go with him to small pubs and venues to see music. He is always looking for something new. When he finds someone he likes, he might invite them for a residency at the space back in Calabria, especially if they want to do something experimental. Some really interesting people have spent time there.

We also like hanging around at home with the band, just talking, laughing and playing music. Giuseppe has been a huge influence on our music. He is always pushing us to be more inventive—not to settle for the easy answer. We are releasing an EP later this year produced by Youth, who was the bassist in the band Killing Joke. We would never have got this far had it not been for Giuseppe pushing us to express ourselves.

Giuseppe is a very good cook. We will buy things from the Market and he will come around to my house to cook for the band. He is a firm believer in natural and organic foods, and that is all he sells here at De Calabria. He is passionate about supporting people who make their produce in ways that are good for the land. Everything you see here on the stall, Giuseppe has gone out and found the producer. He will make trips alone, deep into the mountains where many people don’t often travel, to find new products. Either he will have heard of someone making something special or he will just go into a region and see what he can find. He sees how everything is produced and only brings it to the stall if he is happy about the way it is made. It is in his blood: he is from a farming family and that was how they farmed. For him, producing really good food and caring for the environment are one and the same.