This month we chat to our GM Richard Seymour about the last 12 months, what he's looking forward to in 2023 and what will be on his Christmas table...
It was early November in 2021 that Melbourne’s lockdowns finally started to ease and what had been a difficult couple of years started to shift and open to what a ‘new normal’ might look like. The team at Mount Zero Olives moved through the last 12 months facing change and challenges to come out looking forward to what’s next.
“We’ve had a year of no lockdowns so we’re feeling mostly back on track,” says our GM Richard Seymour.
“The hardest part of the last year is coming to terms with selling the farm,” he adds.
It was early in 2022 that Richard’s parents Neil and Jane Seymour sold the olive grove in the Grampians that had been the starting point for Mount Zero back in 1993.
“We felt like we’d lost our compass, but this move allows mum and dad to step back and the brand and business will continue,” he says. “We’ve had to look at ourselves closely; at who we are, what we are and what we do. We don’t have our home farm anymore, but we continue to champion local produce.”
Richard and the Mount Zero team are looking forward to working with four or five olive growers in Victoria to “broaden our range in terms of varieties and flavours, oil and table fruit,” he says.
They’re also planning to upscale their fermentation capacity, "So we can receive olives in and ferment naturally in brine on a larger scale.” Richard explains, “We want to double our capacity at least. One of our learnings from Covid is that there were supply chain challenges from Europe and we had retailers and antipasti companies asking us for produce and we had to say no. We want to be able to say yes and get local olives into mainstream retailers.”
After a significant year, Richard is taking time out over Christmas with his partner, Sophie.
“Sophie’s dad is coming over from New Zealand and we’re having a family Christmas. Roo [Rich and Sophie’s 40kg Kelpie X] will be there, too.”
He also mentions he's going to have a go at cooking Joel Alderdice’s Farro and Freekeh Salad, using fresh summer veggies.
A very happy and safe festive season to everyone, from all of us at Mount Zero Olives!
the fast five
1. If you weren’t with Mount Zero, what would you be doing?
I would be a park ranger or an adventure tourism operator.
2. Last place you dined out?
Harley and Rose in West Footscray, it’s our local.
3. What's your favourite Victorian restaurant?
My favourite pub in the country – The Bunyip Hotel in Cavendish. Chef and publican Jimmy Campbell is a local as well as a Movida alumni = great local hospitality with some serious talent from the kitchen.
4. Favourite season/s of the year for produce?
Right now! I’m a stone fruit maniac and love decent tomatoes.
5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for 2023 or beyond?
Scaling, while improving the quality of our table olive fermentation process. I can really nerd out on the process, fermentation, equipment and resultant flavours.
By Hilary McNevin