In this month’s Family Album series, we are shining a spotlight on Liliana Basile, Mount Zero Olives big-hearted and often hilarious office manager.
Liliana hails from Victoria’s Western District and before joining the Mount Zero team admired the business from afar. “Lil” recalls working for her family’s food business and attending many food trade fairs alongside the 'Mount Zero' team.
Today we’ll learn a little more about Lil who, in the tradition of the Family Album series, has created a recipe for time-poor working mothers and fathers, and for all the cheese lovers out there – which is pretty much everyone!
Q & A with Liliana Basile
How long have you been working for Mount Zero and what did you do prior to joining the MZ team?
I’ve been with the team for 12 months. I cut my teeth…. and indeed grew my wisdom teeth… working for my family business Just Squeezed Fruit Juices.The business was started by my father in the late 80’s, and is now owned and operated by my brother.
I left the business to focus on raising my children, during which time my family moved to regional Victoria. There I had the time and the opportunity to explore my love of regional produce and I developed an obsession with learning all I could about the process of making sourdough bread!
What is your favourite thing about the work you do?
It’s really lovely to be working for a family business again and it’s great to be working with a host of producers from regional Victoria. I’m enjoying seeing and experiencing the mechanics of a great, ethical business at work and it’s a joy to engage with staff across all aspects of the business; with our customers and the general public.
What’s the most heard feedback from your customers?
I found that our customers are always really interested to hear about where we source our products from, the back-stories of the farmers and their approach. Everyone is keen to know how the weather has affected the produce, the day-to-day details and the life-cycle of what they are choosing to consume.
What would you be doing, if you weren’t in the food business?
I’d be treading the deck of an 80ft yacht in a bikini and Perspex stilettos, sipping a cold beer, island hopping in the Aegean Sea!
What is a career highlight and/or a career dream?
Even though it didn’t completely go according to plan (life happens while you are busy making other plans evidently!) a big career highlight has been converting an old 1890’s bank in regional Victoria to a working sourdough bakery. I lived on the property (behind the old bank) for the duration of the conversion. It was an 18-month project and I loved every minute of it!
Do you have any industry tips or secrets you’d like to share?
My favourite tip is works for business and in life… ‘Keep it real’! There will always be one person in the crowd who’ll happily point out that the emperor is without his clothes, so don’t purport to be something that you are not!
What is your favourite Mount Zero product and why?
There are really so many products that I love but I’d have to say that my current favourites are the agrumato oil range (oils pressed with citrus fruit). Their flavour really cheers up any meal, which helps enormously when making kid’s dinners! I also think that the Mount Zero chilli salt is amazing. The flavour is incredible and it has enough heat to keep the ticker going!
As you well know we are forever building and adding to our Foodie’s bucket list – please add your tips….
My father’s family is from a small village called Castel Del Monte in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The village’s population swells in the summertime, when tourist from all over Europe visit for “a day out” at Campo Imperatore.
Campo Imperatore (which is also known as 'Little Tibet') is a huge plain obscured in the winter months by snow, and transformed in the summer it becomes the home of a relaxed ‘Arrosticini festival'.
Arrosticini is traditional Abruzzese cuisine made from lamb, cut in chunks and pierced by a skewer. It’s cooked on a brazier and often accompanied by slices of home-made bread soaked in extra-virgin olive oil (pane unto).
When you visit, you buy your Arrosticini and wine from local vendors and make merry with locals and people from all around the world who've stopped to enjoy a local tradition and celebrate the summer. I encourage everyone to experience it!
If not Arrosticini, what recipe have you picked to share this month and why?
I’ve gone with Friday Night Nachos, or perhaps that should be Friyay Night Nachos. It’s a simple, easy recipe, which is great for the end of the week and it’s one that kids love – which means everyone is happy!
Click here to road test Lil's Friyay Nigh Nachos!