Today on Foodie Friday, meet Carlo Capua, owner of Z’s Café and Locavore, a shared commercial kitchen and event business dedicated to helping Fort Worth, Texas. He devotes attention to helping others improve their lives. That commitment is the inspiration behind Locavore. At this space, Carlo and his team provide a leg up for food industry startups. Area foodies can rent commercial kitchen space, host a pop up event, offer cooking classes or share work space. Because we all know that it takes a village to create a business these days.
What is your role in the food industry?
I co-own Z’s Café (catering company) and Locavore (shared commercial kitchen and event venue.) We’ve been fortunate to cater and donated to 300+ nonprofits in Fort Worth and becoming a fairly well-known catering business. I meet food entrepreneurs almost every day and try to pass on experience and guidance so people don’t make the same mistakes I did. I hope to see Fort Worth grow to become a powerhouse for food startups in the country.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
My mom and I decided to start a home-based catering business, and I agreed to help her for a few months until I found a full-time job. That was 10 years ago. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of understanding food costs, seeing our employees grow, and cutting lots and lots of wedding cakes.
What/who inspired your current role in the food industry?
My parents inspired me to appreciate food, real food, since I was a kid. Staying connected to our Italian roots naturally puts food, friends and family into our DNA. I still draw ideas and inspiration from food experts and small business masters like Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Lemonis and admire how they have helped hundreds struggling family businesses.
What food trends are most influential in what you do?
Pop up dinners are all the rage right now. Taking a warehouse, venue space, closed café and transforming it into a one-off restaurant experience – it’s brilliant. A low-risk way for chefs to test new ideas and build a following, and for consumers to get a one-of-a-kind menu. In the few short weeks Locavore has been open, we’ve been flooded with interest by professional chefs and home cooks alike.
What do you view as your greatest achievement to-date as a food professional?
Last year Z’s Café was honored as the 2017 Small Business of the Year by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. As a social enterprise that hires low-income men and women (136 over the past 9 years), it has been reaffirming to receive such a recognition. We’ve had almost a decade of ups and downs, but struggling is part of the journey in the small business universe. I’m still in shock that we were chosen.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
Homemade pasta. I have a hand crank machine for fettuccini and we have dinner parties where we make “homemades” with our friends in between bottles of wine. It’s a ton of fun.
What’s your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
Salmon. There are so many ways to cook it and it’s great recovery food after a workout.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Raw garlic. Garlic salt. And granulated garlic.
What food or meal makes you happiest?
We all have those meals that take us back to specific memories. Mine is probably my mom’s lasagna. I remember eating it often (practically from birth) and always loving it. And when I got to high school, I finally understood why my friends were always asking to come over and never inviting me to their houses for dinner.
Where would you most like to live? Why?
Chicago. Although I could probably only handle the sensory overload for a year, it is the safest big city in the USA and a dining capital of the world. Deep dish pizza, Vienna red hots, the Chicago Marathon, Navy Pier - it’s a world-class city and truly international city. I always look forward to seeing the Hall of Sister Cities flags that line the arrival terminal at O’Hare Airport.
Tell us about your favorite vacation destination.
Tokyo. I lived there for 4 years as an English teacher and it has everything – ancient landmarks, hi-tech shopping districts, and some of the best, most carefully prepared and presented food in the world. You’ll never out-give the Japanese. They are the kindest and most hospitable people I’ve ever met.
Connect with Carlo:
Pinterest: Z’s Café