Indie Oxford Interview: Lorencini Arancini
On the blog today, Lauren, owner of Lorencini Arancini, talks about her indie journey, learning from burnout, and why making food is way more fun than wig making! >>
Tell us about your background and why you decided to set up your own business.
In 2013 I came back from travelling around the world on my own, which was a huge learning curve (I had never been on a plane on my own!), things I took from that trip were a new found confidence in my whole being and a knowledge of all sorts of different ingredients and cuisines. In 2014 I decided to start a food van, she was covered in grass, flowers and butterflies, named Vivienne, and I took her to festivals all around the UK selling gourmet bean dishes inspired by cuisines around the world. A lot of fun was had but truth be told my inexperience, the pressure I put on myself to succeed, and the long festival hours broke me a bit and at the end of 2017 I sold Vivienne, vowing never to work with food again and I trained to be a wig maker instead. After labouring over a single wig for 2 years, I realised that making food was loads more fun; but more than that I loved meeting new people, feeding them and talking to them about food.
Tell us about your indie business and the vision for it.
I don’t remember the first time I had arancini, but what I do remember is that I went on a date with a guy who told me he had been making arancini from left over risotto, and I was so impressed and intrigued (with the food not the boy); I was inspired to give it a go. I found it wasn’t difficult to make it delicious and I realised how versatile it is, I knew there was lots of fun to be had with this. So the planning of food business Mk 2 began.
Lorencini is a very small business, something I learnt from my last food business is to grow at my own pace and start little; so it is mainly myself that does everything, with some weekly help from my Mum (who is great at making balls) and my close friend Annika (who is very heavily pregnant right now!) helps at pop ups. At the moment we are a street food pop up, but the business is ever evolving and has not found it’s forever home as yet. I started the business in the first lockdown and initially made deliveries to the local area North of Kidlington, as things opened up again I approached markets and other premises more centrally. The first pop up we did and something I am super proud to be a part of, was at Tap Social where we do regular pop ups; we then started to do the Summertown and Botley farmer’s markets, and then just before Christmas we popped up at The Star on Rectory Road. We will continue to pop up all over the city, but what I hope for Lorencini is a bricks and mortar premises that is similar to the Izakayas in the Golden Gai in Tokyo, which are really small bars that serve small plates of food and seat about 6 people, they are always packed.
How do you come up with recipe ideas for new arancini?
Everything is made completely from scratch and we make and serve arancini with a mix of traditional and not so traditional flavours; I like to draw inspiration from my travels around the world, there is a lot of fusion of cuisines going on. I actually have a book of all sorts of different arancini flavour combinations that I add to all the time but generally I just go with things that I like and know taste good, there isn’t anything I don’t eat so the sky is the limit really! It is always fun trying out something new and although I have a core menu, I have several other flavours I keep on the back burner to switch in and out when the occasion fits. Where possible we source all of our ingredients locally and I am lucky enough that one of my best friend’s runs Dews Meadow farm and another of my good pals grows exciting mushrooms from his business the Mycoshed based in Horton cum Studley.
What does a typical day look like for you at the moment?
A typical day for me involves meditating first thing followed by a hard work out to keep me sane, I will then start making risottos (sometimes 3 at a time) and fillings for the arancini as well as the sauces to go with them and then the whole of the following day is spent with my Mum turning the fruits of that day into balls.
What’s the best thing about running an indie business?
The best thing about running an independent business is that you can let your creativity run loose without having to answer to anyone. Oxfordshire is a great place to do that because it has a strong independent business collective and there are loads of people nurturing their dreams and ideas, and I think the people of Oxford recognise and respect this and are always interested in what you are doing and what the process was for you to get to that point. I feel there is always a bit of apprehension when showcasing the products of your imagination, which is essentially a part of you, will it be received well or not?! But to meet and chat to people who have a positive interest in what is your labour of love make it all worth while, and there is a lot of that in Oxford. I like to be able to create things and I am lucky that I have the opportunity to try and turn these creations into a business, I cannot imagine working for someone else now, it doesn’t really seem natural to me anymore.
Which are your favourite indies in Oxfordshire?
My favourite indies in Oxford are Pickle and Lime in Botley where we source our veg from, their selection is awe inspiring and Joe is amazing to go and procure all these gems at stupid o’clock in the morning in London and still be working in the shop in the day and not be miserable. I am also a huge fan of Arbequina on the Cowley Road, their menu is amazing and their food never fails to impress me, and I aspire for my business to be that consistent in quality.