Otello Calvert’s journey towards numerous award wins, brand partnerships and close to 100,000 TikTok followers started with a few simple ingredients: high-quality, organic flour, a generous splash of water and the occasional addition of egg.

That’s all it takes to produce the pasta that he sells from his popular Inverness-based street food trailer, Tagliotello, alongside an ever-evolving selection of sauces and desserts made from scratch. 

The Herald:

“It was my friends who suggested that I should do something with food after I had been cooking for them,” he said. 

“Inverness didn’t really have any options for fresh pasta, and I knew that was something I could do well, being half Italian. 

“I spent eight months making pasta by hand, doing research, and building a business plan. 

“I got a loan and bought the trailer then completely refitted it myself over the space of two months before opening in February 2021.” 

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Opening a new business in the wake of the pandemic was not for the faint of heart. 

And, doing so in a small Highland city with no prior experience as a professional chef took more guts still. 

But with a passion for his work and a natural flair for customer service, Mr Calvert soon started to build a reputation for his impressive range of freshly made pasta, both in person and online. 

The Herald:

He said: “I was so nervous when I opened that I felt sick and couldn’t eat for a week. 

“It was blood sweat and tears, having to fix everything myself when things went wrong in the trailer like issues with electrics or plumbing.  

“I was quite lucky that I decided to make a TikTok when I first started. 

“Even though I was quite late to the game, within a month I had 10,000 followers and now have close to 100,000. 

“I do live videos that can have around 6000 people watching at a time and recently got flown down to Cambridge to speak at a catering college. 

“That was quite surreal, to know that I was teaching people how to cook when I’ve never been in their position.” 

It’s easy to see why the 27-year-old’s videos, showing both the good and the bad of running an independent business have proved a hit on social media. 

While many follow the chef for his commentary alone, there’s no doubt that his street food dishes are the star of the show. 

He said: “I cook in what I like to call an authentic, Italian style. 

“That means focusing on simple, locally sourced ingredients which keeps costs down but also guarantees high quality. 

“It’s nice to be able to support the community and have them support you back. 

“There have been customers who say they never liked pasta before but enjoy mine, and others who obsess over the tiramisu which is made using my mum’s recipe. 

“I make everything myself which is a labour-intensive process. 

“At the moment, it’s about 30 hours of prep work for nine hours of service.” 

The Herald:

In the two and a half years since opening, Mr Calvert says that he has yet to encounter an unhappy customer, a claim that’s backed up by countless rave reviews and accolades including the Scottish Prestige Award Winner for Best Catering Company. 

Next month, he will join fellow industry-leading talent at a ceremony for the Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Awards, after receiving a nomination for the highly competitive Best Street Food category. 

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He said: “The awards ceremony will be the first time I’ll get to hang out and have a drink with people like Redshank and Alvie Forest Food.

“We’re great pals, although there have been a few jokes about how the winner will have to watch their back when they go up for the award. 

“Street food in Inverness, and across Scotland is growing massively and it’s great to see. 

“It’s a bit of a reawakening for chefs who have realised they can move away from a side of the industry that can be toxic. 

“They’re still doing the long hours that they would be in a traditional kitchen but taking control and doing it on their own terms. 

“It’s a lot of fun, and that’s the whole reason to do it.” 

For more information on where to find Tagliotello, visit their website here.