By Hilary McNevin
Chef James Kummrow and Richard Seymour (our GM) met through the hospitality industry. James, who was head chef and venue manager of Fatto Italian restaurant in the Hamer Hall complex on Melbourne’s Southbank, was a regular Mount Zero customer and it was from here that a friendship grew.
“I’d been using Mount Zero products for about 10 years,” says James, “but Rich and I really hit it off when in 2018, I went out to the Grampians and Pink Lake to see the olive groves and salt harvest. It really hit me - what they’re doing and creating - and I was staggered by that.”
Through this they became mates and now, colleagues.
“We closed just before the restrictions were announced,” says James about the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, “and when I realised there wasn’t going to be anymore work for a while, I called Richard [Seymour, Mount Zero GM] and asked him if he had any work going.”
The phone call led to Richard telling James that he’d call him back within a few hours as Mount Zero were in the middle of a big pivot from wholesale to retail. Sure enough, Richard called James back with a, “yes!”
The pair had chat over coffee and decided to set up some work on a casual basis. As James knows Mount Zero well, Richard asked him to come in and give feedback on the Mount Zero range of products and to see how the range could be extended.
James started to develop some ideas and Richard encouraged him to keep creating in the Mount Zero test kitchen. As James’s ideas grew - as well as their use of Mount Zero staples such as olives and Pink Lake Salt - Richard suggested he set up his own business and sell the products on the Mount Zero website.
It is a story like this that highlights the adaptability of those in the hospitality industry. James has translated his cheffing skills into a production kitchen, “working in a commercial environment is great. I can liaise with the Mount Zero food scientist and am learning loads about working in this capacity. Covid threw a huge curveball at the industry, so I’m working with it to do my own thing.”
So, there’s a way to find balance in this ever-changing world and to keep the industry going.
And on that, keep an eye out for a new brand called Little Wing…