Having grown up in La Rioja Province in west Argentina, a rugged geographical area largely devoted to table olive production, it was almost a given that Natalia would become a table olive expert.
Her hometown had a population of only 20,000 people, though it hosted a small university where Natalia went on to study food technology. This set the wheels in motion for Natalia’s passion for olives, and took her all the way across the pond to Australia – via another powerhouse olive-producing country: Italy.
Natalia’s grandfather had emigrated from Italy to Argentina in the 1940s, so when a desire to travel struck her in 2019, she leveraged her dual citizenship and moved to the Veneto region of northern Italy with her three daughters.
Though living in Italy had been an incredible journey for Natalia, after 3 years there she began to find her job in Veneto to be somewhat clinical.
“I spent a lot of time in the laboratory, which was fantastic in deepening my knowledge of fermentation chemistry, but I yearned to be out in the olive groves again,” said Natalia.
This desire for a more hands-on approach to her work led her to move to Australia, and ultimately, to Mount Zero! Natalia joined our team this year, and her in-depth knowledge will be instrumental in scaling up our table olive production in the coming years. Natalia’s creativity and smiley personality are an incredibly welcome addition to our team, and we already can’t picture our work days without her. Earlier in the year, Natalia treated us to a masterclass in Argentinian cuisine, having cooked us beautiful homemade empanadas and choripán serviced with chimichurri made from parsley grown in our warehouse garden.
We’re so excited to have Natalia on board, that it was only fitting to dedicate this month’s Mount Zero Hero to her.
“There is so much potential for growth in the table olive industry here in Australia,” says Natalia. “The quality of the olives grown in this country is amazing, however, only 4% of the total yield is reserved for table olive production. It’s a significant time and monetary investment to process them, which is why the majority of olives you find in supermarkets here are grown and processed overseas.”
Natalia is buzzing for next year’s olive harvest, and she can’t wait to hit the ground running. “Mount Zero has a great history of producing premium table olives grown right here in Victoria, and I’m excited to be joining the team to help further our reputation in the Australian olive industry!”
Natalia has kindly given us her recipe for Argentinian-style marinated olives. Having tested it with the team, we feel like our Organic Mixed Olives work wonders in Natalia's recipe, but you can go for any olive variety you have on hand!
The fast five
1. If you weren't working in the olive industry, what would you be doing?
I've always been interested in making clothes, so I would probably say fashion!
2. Favourite table olive variety at Mount Zero?
My favourite would be our Blonde Kalamatas (known as Cerignola olives in Italy); they’re a versatile olive with fantastic flavour!
3. What’s your favourite restaurant in Melbourne that you’ve been to so far?
I had a wonderful time at Miznon in Melbourne, where I went with some of my new colleagues.
4. Favourite season/s of the year for produce?
Spring, for all the bountiful fresh fruits and vegetables!
5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for this year or beyond?
We're busy making preparations for expanding our table olive production in time for the next olive harvest in April/May, so there's lots of work to be done!