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Meet Jesse Albertini of Lohi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesse Albertini.

Hi Jesse, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?

Since I was young, I dreamed of opening my own business. I felt it was necessary to be an expert in my field before I leaped, so I spent most of my career seeking opportunities that I felt would help me gain the experience needed to be great. I graduated college in New York and moved to Colorado to spend a year in the mountains. I quickly fell in love with this state and decided to stay. After nine years in Winter Park working food and beverage for the resort and planning events for a local catering company, I moved down to Denver and into the back of the house. Kitchen work is hard, but I found it to be fulfilling and something I loved. I worked my way through many kitchens in Denver. I spent time learning and honing my craft under the guidance of some very talented chefs.

In 2017, I realized I was finally ready to go from chef to chef/operator. I started to formulate my business plan and get a clear value proposition. About a year later, Sfoglina was ready to come to life when my husband and I learned that I was pregnant. We decided to pause on the financing until Adeline was born. The idea of having a baby and a new business was insane to me. Adeline was three months old when covid shut everything down. It was an uncertain time for me. I had spent over a decade identifying as a chef first, and everything else about myself was second. Becoming a mother forces you to examine who you are and how you see yourself. I think having it happen during covid made it a little more intense. I felt so happy to have Adeline in our lives finally but sad that the world seemed to be crumbling around us. The restaurant world and every business that connected to restaurants were closing, and their futures look bleak. I was worried that Sfoglina was dead and would never get the chance to achieve what I have been working towards for so long.

Then in the spring of 2020, I put together a fundraiser to try and do something to fight racism. The fundraiser was successful and helped me realize that Sfoglina could still have a life. My husband helped me scale my original plan way down and bring a company to life that can grow into my original plan. We were able to take the values I felt were most important: sourcing local fresh grains, using the freshest flour possible to make healthy and delicious pasta, and supporting the community by giving back to various local charities. Finally, Sfoglina launched in the summer of 2020.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My daughter’s safety has always been and will always be paramount. So, I would say Covid-19 has been the biggest obstacle. I have turned down more projects than I have said yes to keep her safe. At the same time, I also learned how to work in new ways and feel lucky I could find safe environments to introduce my pasta to the world last year.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Sfoglina is a women-owned company that specializes in craft pasta, meal kits, and cooking classes. We source local wheat grains that are freshly milled, utilizing bronze dies and slow drying the pasta. Implementing these procedures not only leads to a better flavor but is also is a healthier, more nutrient-dense final product.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I can only hope that we do not lose all the lessons we learned in 2020. Food sovereignty is an important issue, and we saw how fragile our food system was last year. We must continue to utilize local farmers and producers whenever possible.

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Image Credits
Ashley Youngswick

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