In the kitchen with… Luca Floris

Welcome back to our series ‘In the kitchen with…’ where we shine a spotlight on the fantastic team who work in our Foodservice division.

At The Compleat Food Group we have a team of innovative and talented development chefs who help us create delicious new products for our retail and foodservice customers. Our dedicated foodservice team are behind some of the tastiest food you see served in restaurants across the UK including Purezza and Slug and Lettuce.

This week we caught up with Senior Development Chef, Luca Floris, who manages the culinary team, overseeing new products from the ideation stage to launch. This includes coming up with delicious, exciting new products, and improving the recipes for classic products that consumers already know and love, like Wrights Breakfast Pasty.

What attracted you to a career in the food industry?

“Food was always a super important part of my life growing up in an Italian and English household. We had big family gatherings every week where my dad would make fresh pasta, seafood and cook meat over an open fire – all Sardinian staples. My dad worked as a head waiter in some of London’s most prestigious restaurants and he’d share his memories of food back home in Sardinia and from his working life. This really instilled in me a sense of passion for food and cooking from a young age.

“I knew that I wanted to be a chef as soon as I left school, so at age 16 I started working in a busy hotel close to home, then I spent the next ten years working in fine dining and Michelin starred restaurants across the UK and Europe. When I settled back home, I wanted a better work life balance and I was introduced to the world of new product development (NPD), which I’ve been working in for the past nine years. I started with The Compleat Food Group’s Crewe site in 2022 to support the business during a busy period. Fast forward to today and I’m working full time as a Senior Development Chef across all categories and customer accounts!”

Food styling photography for a range of ready
meals Luca developed.

Can you explain your job to us in a couple of sentences?

“I oversee the development of new products and manage the culinary team. This means I make sure we create the most delicious products and ensure everything runs smoothly from the concept stages through to the launch. I also support the wider business adapting recipes to help them secure, maintain and win new business.”

So, what does a typical day look like for you?

“Every day is different at Crewe, one day I could be creating a new recipe with the team for an exciting new brief, the next I could be looking at how we can improve or add value to an existing recipe with simple ingredient changes.”

What’s your favourite Compleat product and how do you like to use it? 

“There’s so many to choose from, if I had to pick one, it’s the Sicilian Lemon and Olive Oil cake which launched into retail– it’s versatile and not too sweet. If you’ve not tried it yet you definitely should! I’m also a huge fan of the unearthed products which highlight some fantastic global cuisines across multiple product categories, from deli to sweet pastry.”

What do you love the most about your job?

“I love getting to work with so many different products and develop new recipes. I’ve worked at a number of manufacturers and its quite rare to find a site that has so many different competencies, it was one of the biggest drivers that led me to this job. I’m also incredibly lucky to have such a supportive team who I genuinely get on with really well. There’s never a dull day and it’s always a pleasure to be here.”

Photo from Nostra Pizza – Luca’s pizzeria

What would surprise people about your job?

“I think there’s a common misconception around food manufacturing and this belief that creating products on a large scale means they’re full of additives or cheap ingredients. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The ingredients we use are as good as or better than what a regular consumer can find in the supermarkets in some instances. Ingredients and products have to go through rigorous testing processes to ensure food safety standards are met and that products retain their quality throughout their individual shelf life.

“At Wrights we always use first class proteins for our pies and sausage rolls which are carefully sorted and minced onsite. We also use amazing ingredients in our sweet bakery production like the single origin chocolate from Barry Callebaut.”

And finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

“During lockdown I set up my own pizzeria, Nostra Pizza, so on Fridays and Saturdays I’m busy running that. Outside of working, I still love to cook on Sundays, getting the whole family over for a BBQ and a nice glass of red, as well as spending as much time as possible with my two young sons.”

Photo from Nostra Pizza

 

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