Family. Food. Engineering. These three ideas came together in the mind of Francesco and they have passed down through the six Bertazzoni generations that have followed almost a century and a half later. Today those three words define the Bertazzoni brand.
How did it all begin? The latest Bertazzoni products with their advanced technology are part of a continuous story that began, as many do, with a journey. More than 140 years ago, back in the 19th Century, Francesco Bertazzoni and his son Antonio made precision weighing machines for the local cheesemakers in Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy. Watching the trains coming in to Guastalla from Germany and Austria, they noticed the railcars were heated by a new type of wood-burning stove; a stove that cooked for the train crew, as well as heating the carriage.
To celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of Bertazzoni, the family has published a unique cookbook.
It was inspired by our great-grandmother, whose handwritten notebook containing precious family recipes has been passed down through the family.
Over the years, each generation has added their own recipes to the notebook, to create a celebration of the Bertazzoni culture that brings together our love of food, family and engineering across the generations.
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With its roots in manufacturing appliances to get the most enjoyment from food, Bertazzoni’s soul lives and thrives in the heart of the home – the kitchen.
For Italians, there is a natural fusion of design and engineering. Innovative engineering lets you produce products that function perfectly. Combined with our affinity for engineering and design, Bertazzoni products are distinct in style and elegance. In essence, form and function become one.
If the kitchen is the heart of every home, it is equally true that food is at the heart of every kitchen. Bertazzoni’s home is in the Po Valley in the north of Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Known as Italy's breadbasket since Roman times, it is steeped in the ingredients and recipes that have made Italian cooking famous worldwide.
“We have a deep belief in beautiful cooking to bind families and friends together – and a sincere respect for nature and its products that we wish to be enjoyed by all those who follow after us.”
Bertazzoni is proud to be the world’s oldest family-owned appliance manufacturer, built on more than 140 years of innovation. But with pride comes deep responsibility. As the business has passed from generation to generation, the family members have continued to be conscious of their responsibilities, not only to the beautiful land they live in but also to the people who live there today and those who will come after them. Bertazzoni recognises its roots in Guastalla and Emilia-Romagna run deep. The prosperity of the town and our region is close to the hearts of everyone who works with us. We are deeply committed to nurturing our close-knit community and developing where we live and work for the benefit of everyone. In particular, Bertazzoni continues to invest to create opportunities for young people, encouraging them to stay in the region by giving them a deep sense of place, pride and purpose.
The three ‘pillars’ – family, food, engineering – are integral to everything Bertazzoni does. We thought the most natural way to explore and explain them would be over a family meal cooked on Bertazzoni appliances. The writer John Simmons was there to record the conversation.
Bertazzoni has always led the way in production technology, applying the most modern methods to its manufacturing at every stage of the company’s evolution. In Italy, production has quadrupled at its high-tech factories since1998. But nothing stands still. A bigger plant at the company's home in Guastalla, using the very latest technology, is now meeting demand for Bertazzoni products on a global stage.
The engineering and craftsmanship that make it possible to create great kitchen appliances is deep-rooted in the Emilia- Romagna region. Around Guastalla, in the world-famous cities like Turin, Bologna and Milan, you will find renowned industrial companies that make iconic cars and motorbikes; and other worldleading companies in food processing, agricultural machinery, automotive, hydraulic, construction and ceramic machinery. Alfa Romeo, Ducati, Lamborghini, Ferrari. Iconic, almost poetic names, representing powerful and stylish machines that are engineered for excellence, honed and developed through the toughest competition in the world. Bertazzoni takes its inspiration from them.
Here you will find Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham), mortadella sausage, cured meats and salamis, Balsamico di Modena (Balsamic vinegar), Lambrusco, Sangiovese and Trebbiano wines, and many types of pasta with local origins – tagliatelle, tortellini and ravioli, to name just a few.
All these distinctive Italian foods are made possible by the agricultural abundance that surrounds us.
The Po Valley is a wide fertile plain with rich soil that nurtures all the essential ingredients – grains and grasslands, fruit from the orchards, vegetables of all kinds. So there is wheat for pasta, rice for risotto and corn for polenta. There is plentiful grazing for pork, beef, veal, poultry and game. Along with milk, butter and cheese. Porcini, nuts, truffles from the woods. Peaches, pears, cherries, quince and, of course, Italian tomatoes, bursting with flavour. In short, all the ingredients you need for the perfect meal.
Delicious food – simply made – brings this family and this business together in conversation. I’m interested in the relationship of family and business: how do they relate to each other? “I’ve always lived the company as part of the family,” answers Paolo Bertazzoni. “It was natural. My father Francesco brought me to the factory as a boy in short trousers – it gave me great pride as a boy. ‘You must say Buongiorno to everyone’ he insisted. I still feel it is an honor to be part of this company.”
His sister Elisabetta, who has shared the big decisions with him, says: “We learnt early to respect the company and its values – they were also our family values. We knew we had to work with humility, to take great care in all we do, to work together for the good health of the business.”
There is a deep sense of responsibility that you feel in their words. The responsibility extends beyond the family to all the people who work with Bertazzoni. “We know them,” says Paolo. “We feel a connection to the past and the future. That’s why each generation tries to do better than the previous generation.”
For all these family members, the values and the primacy of the company have been instilled from their early years. Paolo, now chief executive, worked in the humblest positions to understand the company and to demonstrate that his family did not assume any automatic superiority. His son Nicola and daughter Valentina were encouraged to exercise their own freedom, without pressure to join the business. They studied, learnt skills, opted to come back and to apply those skills to benefit the company and its wider community.
“Everyone could follow their own inclinations,” says Valentina. “I loved art and design, as well as maths – so I studied architecture and ran my own practice. But it seemed natural to come into the business at a time when it was changing, when the products and brand were moving onto another stage of evolution. Because it was all about values, making sure they are consistent between family and business, between marketing and products, to be authentic. Interpreting the present, building on the past, but looking to the future.”
“Our roots are the Italian family and the family is based around food,” observes Nicola. “The heart of an Italian home is the kitchen. But the vital ingredient of our heritage, to make it really powerful, is engineering. We apply design and technology to deliver what our end-users want in their kitchens. It all depends on making sure our appliances work brilliantly in all environments – that is our obsession.”
It’s refreshing to hear these family members express their commitment and to do so in ways that connect with the real lives of the people who use their machines. Each of them might have spoken the following words because they come from the Bertazzoni heart: “In a life that gets more complicated, we aim to make things easier. We know that will make people happier. Because food is such a human need, there is universal pleasure in the making and sharing of food.”
“It’s our mission to make kitchen appliances that function perfectly for the lives of our Bertazzoni owners. By making beautiful products we feed their eyes, brains and hearts, and we give pleasure. Our deeper mission is to make people happier by making products that bring joy to their lives.”