Olli was born and raised in Rome into a family of salumi makers. As a boy, Olli spent plenty of time at his grandfather’s prosciutto and salame factories, and by an early age he picked up a lot of knowledge about how to cure various meats. Eventually he decided to learn photography, which he got into while living briefly in London. But, salame was a big part of Olli, and he went back to join to join the family’s 4th generation business in Rome. Six years ago, he moved to the States to join Fiorucci USA. Olli and Chip started Olli Salumeria together in 2010. Olli can usually be found out in the curing rooms, keeping a watchful eye on every aspect of production.
Chip’s career has consisted of operating and investing in privately-held businesses. Besides enjoying fine food and wine with his wife and three daughters, Chip also enjoys hunting, horses and endurance sports.
“Four years ago, I was catching up over a glass wine with my friend, Olli Colmignoli. At the time, Olli worked for the U.S. subsidiary of a large salumi manufacturer that had been founded in Italy by his grandfather. Olli had come to my house for dinner and (as usual) he brought with him some prosciutto made by his family’s company in Parma. So I asked him, ‘Olli, why do you always bring the prosciutto that you guys make in Italy rather than the stuff that you make here in Virginia?’ He laughed and said, ‘Because it’s better!’ ‘Listen,’ Olli continued, ‘we use the same recipes in the same sort of rooms equipped with the same Italian equipment. We even have Italians running things over here! But there’s one big difference in the States. The hams. We can’t get the hams over here like the ones we have in Italy.
Coincidentally I had just read an article about a guy who was having great success selling his pasture-raised pork to high-end restaurants in NYC. I said to Olli, ‘How about this: if I get you some really good pasture raised pork, could you make prosciutto as good as the stuff you guys make in Italy?’ Olli didn’t miss a beat, ‘Absolutely. In fact, I have often thought it would be pretty cool to do just that. Trust me, the difference will astound you.’
The following week I managed to get Olli three beautiful Berkshire hams from Emile De Felice’s Caw Caw Creek Farm. The hams were big (30 + pounds apiece) and the flesh was richly marbled. Olli went nuts: ‘Where did you get these? They’re beautiful! This is going to be fun…’ Olli liked the Caw Caw hams so much that he called Emile and bought another sixty hams and then he went to work.
Making prosciutto is a bit like making wine; you salt your hams and then wait a year and a half to find out how you did. We decided to have a party at my house to mark the occaision of the unveiling of our prosciutto. Our guests went crazy. They loved the nutty aroma, mahogany color and depth of flavor. Even guests who are not exactly foodies were asking where they could buy more of this fabulous prosciutto. At that point I said to Olli, ‘Bravo, you have the beginnings of a nice business here! What are you waiting for?’ Olli agreed and ultimately we decided to start a business together.
We incorporated in March of 2010 and sold our first coppa six months later. Our salame hit the market in March of 2011 and our prosciutto finally began coming out of the salt about July 2011. The response to our products has surpassed anything that I had envisioned. Whether it’s a compliment from a famous chef or a Facebook comment from a new, enthusiastic customer, it’s really satisfying to know that we’re making people happy!