Cristina Oria and her husband Álvaro

Cristina Oria, success due to a mistake: “A thousand kilos of foie sold and it turns out that I had made the recipe wrong”

Cristina Oria is a person, but also a brand. ‘This is by Cristina Oria’ can now be heard on the table of any house in Madrid, as if to say, ‘eye, this is by Coco Chanel’ or this is ‘specially brought here’.

The brand that the businesswoman is displaying in different venues in record time is the subject of study by its competition and experts in high-end business model: a gourmet selection with an elegant air? Didn’t that exist in Madrid before?

[Margarita Taylor, la mujer que servía alcohol en las teteras de Embassy]

Oria studied Business at CUNEF and worked in banking. “I almost started to oppose the tax inspector”, she confesses jokingly. But she ended up working “at a strategy consultancy” where she had a burn outso he decided move with her husband to Paris to accompany him and thus grant himself a sabbatical year.

“I had some health problems, and that’s why I decided. There, for entertainment, I did Le Cordon Bleu [se refiere al conocido curso de alta gastronomía] because I liked to cook, but not to dedicate myself to it. What happens is that gastronomy hooks you”, she says.

In the end, that year didn’t turn out to be sabbatical. “It was much harder than I thought, because in these formations there was a lot of work but, as I remember now, it is wonderful because everything you cooked later you took with you and it was our first year of marriage and in Paris everything was idyllic”, reminisce

In parallel, “I began to see what the takeaway places were like there. In a class, I did a foie that I prepared and brought to Spain for a dinner. The problem is that I did the wrong original recipe and I took what came out to my parents’ house, and my sister-in-law told me ‘this is delicious, I’ll sell it to you in my office’, and my husband ‘it’s the best I’ve ever tasted’, so I started doing it often ”.

“When I had sold about 1,000 kg,” he says, “and I was considering opening a space, I realized that I had made the original recipe for the course wrong, I don’t know at what point when translating I put other wines and other amounts: due to a mistake or an oversight, that came out delicious”.

That foie micuitthe flagship product of the Cristina Oria brandin the terminology of sales experts, is now made in different versions, with up to three wines and has a peculiar jelly that makes the first bite bring a taste of Sauternes: something unexpected and not intended, as she recounts for a product with some logistical complication, “28 days, cold [‘ahora tenemos el cuit’, añade]”.

Family background

“In my family? We have always given a lot of importance to food, to important celebrations, and we have carefully chosen where we went for lunch or dinner. My parents are both from San Sebastián and in the north that is very important!”, continues Oria.

[Los mejores restaurantes de San Sebastián]

To the point that “my grandmother made us, every time we went, each one’s favorite dish, even if there were seven different ones. At one point, they had flour factories and pastry shops, so there was a lot of gastronomic culture. From my grandmother comes a tribute that I did recently of putting some jewels in a hundred roscones, ”she says.

Their parents, well-known businessmen from Madrid, founders of the Musgo stores, were his first example of an entrepreneurial spirit: “Now we are going to reissue and launch a children’s tableware set with some geese, as a tribute to our childhood, do you remember them?” he asks. “But I always told my husband that he didn’t want to set up anything because he didn’t see me like my parents, who have worked a lot, and wanted to work for someone elseprecisely because he had lived in a family business”.

Cristina Oria, today

“In 2019 I started to develop the entire business”, which includes cateringrestaurants, gift shops gourmets and a production farmface-to-face businesses and on-line. “By winning the Madrid Fusion Award”, he recalls, “it gave me a lot of visibility, and that helped me grow”.

Shortly before, after the crisis of the pop up —her sales model until then—, is her husband, “Álvaro, who is an engineer, the one who told me ‘you have to set up a fixed place, a tasting bar’. And I said, ‘OK, if you want to quit your job and develop that line of business.’ And she told me yes. So Álvaro left his job and we opened the Conde De Aranda space”.

Cristina Oria and her husband Álvaro

Courtesy image

In this first headquarters from the Barrio de Salamanca, he adds, “we have gone little by little, without investors or external support, with our profits. We have never given ourselves dividends, we do have a salary, but we opened, for example, the lower part without doing any work, and when we saw that it worked well, we opened the restaurant upstairs”.

“Madrid has hit a brutal overtaking”, explains Oria herself. “We have put a lot of batteries. When I oppened [la sede de] Count of Aranda, it is no longer very reminiscent of Paris or London, it is that it is Madrid. Because now Madrid is Madrid, no longer goes in the wake. It’s frontline,” she notes.

Each Cristina Oria headquarters has a different typology, but the same air (Las Rozas Village, Conde de Aranda and Ortega y Gasset). “At the Ortega y Gasset headquarters, we open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.”, he points out, and they have “a full menu available at all times, for moments like ‘meeting where I haven’t eaten and it’s 5 p.m.’”.

One of Cristina Oria's premises

One of Cristina Oria’s premises

Courtesy image

Oria’s strategy?

Christina Oria does not believe in creating a strategy to position a brand per se. “I used to work in strategy… but I think you make many decisions more because of what motivates you and what you like, and that’s what drives you.” In other words, it implies that in high-end there is a purchase impulse that may be more emotional.

He recounts how, throughout this process, he has managed to reconcile professional and family life: “Our work is very familiar. So if we go to France to see markets and we go with the children, in the morning we go to furniture markets, and in the afternoon we go to something for children”.

Oria remembers a funny recent anecdote: “But how many times do we go for breakfast, Mom?”, her son asked her, on the last trip to London, after visiting different places to learn more about London’s breakfast offer, “and we ended up in the Harry Potter museum.

Currently, about 150 people work for Cristina Oria, in addition to the waiters and temporary staff of the events. Now he is finalizing his next openings, the imminent one in a huge premises in San Sebastián, “a bet”, where there will be more than 40 new people involved. “We wanted to get out of Madrid and the logical thing would have been Barcelona, ​​where we sell the most on the web, or Malaga, for tourism, but we do things where our hearts lead us.”

Cristina Oria's Restaurant

Cristina Oria’s Restaurant

Courtesy image

“Director? No, fire extinguishers,” she jokes. “Álvaro and I, the luck is that we have very differentiated what one does and what the other does, each one in their areas makes the decisions, and we have very good people in positions: Marimar is very good in stores; Mariana, in design; Fatima, in logistics; Loli, in workshop; we have the caterings led by Clara… I can delegate to all of them”.

Clearly, a flagship product does not make a business possible, and points to a combination of quality Y packagingas well as a mixture of room service and takeaway service as the keys to a business model that continues to grow and in which almost all the key players are women.

What is your first reference as an entrepreneur?

My mother, who is a one hundred percent entrepreneur. She went to Asia several months a year, not knowing English, and selected the products that she imported. I remember phone calls ‘she run, run, get on the phone, it’s your mother’ from I don’t know where. She was a visionary, she brought things here with Moss that were not in the rest of Europe.

What does he say to you now?

My mother (who was more in charge of the product, and my father of the premises, the expansion and the staff) knows what it is to have her own company, she would have preferred her to work for other people, but now she is super proud and she is my biggest supporter from Instagram. She tells me, ‘hey, they wrote you a comment and you haven’t replied’.

So what do you think has definitely been your formula for success?

There is no key, otherwise there would be many successful businesses. It is always a combination. Raw material, a lot of passion for what you do, having a product that people come back for… there is something that has to hook you (mention the foie, the truffled bikini and the lemon cake, among others), perhaps the decoration or the crockery. For you to repeat, there have to be things you want to come back for.

Are you talking about a ‘revisit effect’?

Yes, what happened to me with him foie. There was someone who lived in Córdoba who told me ‘if I don’t go with him foie, they kill me at home’. You create a brand for people to identify with. It is ‘my moment’, it is not a place of passage, which can be take awaybut also not be.

Personal life and future

A mother of three infant-age children, she admits that “life always has its shadows and its lights”, and the process that has hurt her the most in her life has been the neurological operation on her young son. “If you ask me about a heroine, it doesn’t occur to me to say a creator of a brand or a director of a bank, the woman I admire the most is the one who has cured my son. I want to pay tribute to Dr. Hipólito, who is a neurosurgeon, for the dedication, affection, skill and humanity she has shown”.

“If I thought she worked long hours,” he adds, “this woman’s dedication is amazing. I also want to mention the head of the ICU at the Hospital del Niño Jesús, Dr. Montse Cuesta, who always has time to listen, help and support. I believe that for these women her commitment goes far beyond her work. That entire team, all of them, give their lives for the children. In the end, whoever is successful in a company, that is nothing with the vocation of certain people, which is to heal others, to save lives”, she adds.

What is Cristina Oria’s vision for the future?

A dream? I would like to open a store in London or Paris. Already on our website we serve internationally, but let it be to all of Europe, to have more international weight, another thing that we love as a project is our Morata [se refiere a Morata de Tajuña].

What does it consist of?

Three days a week we bring fruit and vegetables from this place, where we also have 20 hectares of olive trees for oil and a small vineyard for wine. We love the place, with a flower garden for decoration and a greenhouse. It is really a way to contribute to ‘kilometer 0’ and thus we can have quality products and favor the environment.

It is educational and healthy for children when we pick vegetables and ride a bike [sonríe]. And we have a very large kitchen designed to record, perhaps a YouTube channel [termina, como toda emprendedora, elucubrando, proyectando nuevas ideas de emprendimiento, viendo opciones y posibilidades].

Source: Elespanol

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