In our new Family Album series, we'll be introducing you to some of our staff and suppliers - the talented and the extremely busy team who make and shape Mount Zero Olives today.
First up, is Willow Humphreys, our Retail Sales Manager. In her role, Willow works with our industry retailers to ensure their shelves are filled and that they're across our production methods and the health and nutritional benefits of our seasonal products – not to mention the taste!
It is a hugely busy role that requires an in-depth knowledge of produce, sustainability, food preparation and food service. Willow’s background combines a layered ‘menu’ of food-related experiences that combine to bring a wealth of knowledge, passion and blockbuster talent to the role.
She is a dynamo, in addition to her full-time work, Willow has returned to university to study food security and sustainability and is truly passionate about food provenance, sustainability and nutrition.
This month Willow has answered a few questions to give you a snapshot of her life behind the scenes and has created and shared an amazing recipe using some of her favourite Mount Zero Olives ingredients.
Q&A with Willow Humphreys
1. How long have you been working for Mount Zero?
I’ve been part of the team just shy of one year now.
2. Happy anniversary! What did you do prior to joining the Mount Zero team?
I’ve been in the food industry for more than 15 years, working for small businesses in management and development. I’ve always had a passion for Australian produce which has led me to work with some amazing people. Prior to joining the team at Mount Zero Olives, I ran one of Brisbane's best-loved food stores, Sourced Grocer. I moved to Melbourne to further my knowledge and get out of my comfort zone.
3. What is your favourite thing about the work you do?
Aside from loving food and the industry, I love the variety of my role. There is always something new to learn, or a new person to meet which keeps me excited and challenged. I’m also very interested in sustainability, I’ve begun working with Mount Zero’s operations manager Grant with the core aim of achieving zero waste to landfill from our Melbourne warehouse and packaging facility - this is a project we are all very passionate about.
4. What is a career highlight and/or a career dream?
A highlight for me here at Mount Zero is being part of a community of passionate people. From growers, chefs, co-workers, to retailers it’s a nourishing environment for the soul and belly alike. I've recently returned to study to further my knowledge of food security and sustainable food production, this ties in well with our business practices here at Mount Zero.
5. What’s the most heard feedback from your customers?
'We love Mount Zero!' It’s always lovely to hear that.
6. What is your favourite Mount Zero product and why?
The Pink Lake Salt project is something I'm very passionate about and the result is a fantastic, sustainable, salt like no other. Our Bio-dynamic Gordals are also very special, and I will never say no to lashings of fresh olive oil!
7. Do you have any industry tips or secrets you'd like to share?
Hot tip, enjoy olive oil right now! It is best when it’s fresh. We have just released our oils for 2018 and they are beautiful.
8. What would you be doing, if you weren’t in the food business?
Event management, I love the high paced environment and working with people.
9. As you well know, we are forever building our Foodie’s bucket list – please add yours….
Where do I start! The hand-pulled noodles form Lam Zhou in Chinatown, NYC are something else. A truly memorable meal for me was at Emmer and Rye in Austin Texas, a team driven by local and seasonal produce all from within 50 miles of their inner city location. And of course, a freshly baked croissant from Lune in Fitzroy, how lucky are we to have them in town! I could go on and on!
10. Do you have a favourite “foodie” moment from art, film; or novel or poem?
Reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential at a young age was an eye-opening and refreshing view of the hospitality industry. I think every young or aspiring chef should read this, its raw, honest and intense.
It’s no secret to the team at Mount Zero that Willow is an amazing cook. She consistently draws on skills learned from more than 15 years in the industry, as well inspiration from her family’s love of food and the environment. This month, Willow as created a recipe with the Mount Zero bio-dynamic pearled barley in mind (see image above with link to the recipe).
“I love our bio-dynamic pearled barley. The texture and flavour are like no other. Pearled barley was always a staple in soups and stews in my childhood and reminds me of Grandfather who was always the cook in the family."
Nom-nom...Enjoy! Thanks for your time, and for the recipe Willow!