Travelling to Italy [to attend Terra Madre] in 2008 opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and like-minded people. It really helped me to realise how important your story is if you’re a small producer and also to understand what I could do.







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TarrilliBra is amazing  – there was only local food available in the town. We arrived late at night and very hungry. There was just one place open: a bar/cafe. We asked for pasta in dreadful Italian and that is what we got – a plate of pasta! “Disaster” we thought, but then we started to eat it and it was just wonderful. Nothing like we have here. There was no need for any sauce as the pasta itself was just divine.

When we went to the Cheese Festival we were blown away by the size of it. There were lots and lots of small producers from everywhere including France, Britain, Switzerland, USA and Germany. Most of these were small artisanal producers. They really value their artisan producers over there. There was cheese everywhere – huge blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano that were carved into irregular chunks and taken by every Italian person in sight. I also fell in love with Gorgonzola, both dolce and piccante. We did one of the classes which was pairing Comte cheese with unusual flavours – lavender, vanilla, honey and so on… very interesting.

After the festival we travelled north, visiting cheese makers where we could. People were very friendly, but communication was tricky as we do not speak Italian, just a little French. However, we were given a cheese called Toma for breakfast and rather liked it. Consequently, when we returned home we decided to copy it as it is quite different to any cheeses currently made in Australia. Tarrili, our version, has a few loyal followers here now.

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Italy 2008 138Attending Terra Madre in 2008 in Turin was a life changing experience for us both”, says Neil. “We attended all the formal days and stayed in a nunnery (arranged by Slow Food) for about 5 nights and were transported to and from Terra Madre daily. Jane and I frequently think about global food issues and local ones with great commitment and reflect on what we learnt and saw at Terra Madre. We have become increasingly active in pursuing issues that we see as important such as introduction of GMO and the ownership of food and its genetics by a few multinational companies.

Italy 2008 133Through this experience, we learnt about the Slow Food mission of good, clean and fair [food] and subsequently developed a commitment to those principles, and adopted them in our business. Whenever we plan or produce a new product we consider these principles as fundamental to that product. The Terra Madre was the most inspiring function that we have ever attended.

As a result we established networks in our own Australian community, and in particular Aunty Beryl from Sydney who later spoke on behalf of the aboriginal community at the launch of our Pink Lake Salt project. We also met Kate Watson through Slow Food Melbourne who later became a valued employee of our company.”

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unnamedSlow Food Melbourne assisted me when I went to Italy in 2011 to partake of the Chianina agricultural show in Perugia.  

I also spent time at the Institute for Italian national cattle breeds in order to understand better our breed of cattle.  They in turn organised a number of visits for me so that I could see how Chianina were being raised in Italy today.”

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