Guido Barilla was born and raised in Parma, Italy, where his grandfather Pietro first opened a bread and pasta shop 136 year ago. Guido has been the Chairman of Barilla Group — now the world's largest pasta producer, and one of Italy's most successful family-owned businesses — since 1993.
Growing up, we always ate the pasta from our factory. Never homemade. In Italy, we have the highest respect for machine-made pasta.
I prefer dried pasta to fresh pasta. 100%. It's the texture.
There are traditional ways we pair shapes with sauces in Italy. Americans aren't so familiar with this yet, but they're learning. Linguine is best with pesto, for instance.
I love very simple recipes. There's a recipe from my hometown of Parma: rotini, butter, and Parmesan cheese. Pasta a la Parmigiana. That's a fantastic dish.
My favorite shape is fusilli. Because of how it grabs the sauce, and texture in your mouth. It's great with tomato sauce. Also, with pesto and cherry tomatoes.
Gluten-free is a huge topic right now. There are a few people who are really allergic, but it's also a bit of a trend. For people who are not gluten-allergic, gluten is actually a very valuable protein.
It's very hard to make good gluten-free pasta. With pasta, gluten is the whole point.
Pasta is a very democratic food. It's the cheapest food you can find on the shelf. It drives me crazy when people talk about it not being healthy. It's about balance. You don't need to eat a pound of pasta. That's a crazy thing to do.
My father was born in 1913 and lived two world wars. He was very strong, very courageous, and extremely determined in his thinking. I learned from him that business is only part of life. You have to dedicate yourself to it if you see life only through business, it's very limiting. Life is much more complex.
I love athletics. I grew up running a lot, cross country skiing, bicycling. Playing sports is a great way to learn how the world works.
Today, one billion people are suffering from hunger and one billion people eat too much. There is a very serious task in front of the food industry to provide food for the hungry, but also to teach the billion people that eat too much that nutrition is a very serious thing. Overeating can harm entire generations, entire countries.
Running a food company is a more difficult job now than it was 30 years ago. It used to be that you had to provide people with good products and that was it. Now, you have to listen much more closely and be more responsive to what people ask for. Not just huge numbers of people, but also small segments.
I like the easiness and simplicity of life in the US. We are much more class-constrained in Europe. Bureaucracy is huge. Here, you are very welcome to express yourself. If you have good ideas, you're supported in your ideas. In Europe it's not necessarily the case.
Italy is running into a very severe leadership crisis. For 25 years, 30 years, we've been in a difficult political situation. The country has lost its cultural leadership.
I'm optimistic by definition. I think that life goes on and peoples' desire to pass on to future generations a better situation and a better environment will be stronger than any crisis.
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