APENNINE GOURMET FOODS
A family run business, Apennine Gourmet Foods started from humble beginnings in the small Italian town of Carapelle Calvision in the province of L'Aquila in the Apennine region of Abruzzo where Elsa began her passion for cooking.
Now run by Elsa's son Robert, Elsa brought her recipes and techniques to Australia in the 1950's and for over fifty years, family, friends and an ever increasing clientele have enjoyed and delighted in her cooking.
At Apennine Gourmet Foods Elsa and her family are passion about their traditiona ready-made meals and hope you enjoy them as much as they enjoy preparing them for you.
We caught up with the Apennine family to learn more.
Who are the team behind Apennine Gourmet Foods and what made you launch?
Our team is led by Robert who is the General Manager and handles our sales and occasionally helps out in the kitchen! In the kitchen, is Robert's mother Elsa, his sister Daniela and our wonderful staff. One day a week Elsa is joined in the kitchen by her two sisters.
We launched Apennine Gourmet Foods due to the growing demand and popularity of our mother, Elsa’s food. We are proud of our Italian heritage and passionate about cooking authentic, fresh and high-quality meals.
What does a day in the life of the Apennine Gourmet Foods team look like?
Each day is different, but one thing never changes. At 10am we have a coffee break and eat one of the cakes or biscuits Elsa has baked.
On Mondays we prepare our soups and lasagne and check in with our clients to see what orders they need for the week. On Tuesdays we prepare our sauces and more lasagne, as well as our arancini and rice balls. Wednesdays are always hectic, as most of our products are dispatched, the kitchen is also busy preparing sauces and lasagne. On Thursdays and Fridays, we dispatch to local stores and make more sauces and lasagne and prepare for the following week.
What was involved in developing the Apennine Gourmet Foods range?
Over 25 years ago our parents opened a small continental deli in Melbourne’s north. With her love for cooking, Elsa began introducing her lasagne and bolognese sauce to our customers. To her surprise and the local community’s delight, these homemade inclusions were a big hit! It soon became necessary to expand that small corner store to include a café. As her food became more and more popular she began introducing other favourites like arancini, minestrone and lentil soups. That little deli/cafe business was eventually sold to a local family and Apennine Gourmet Foods was born. We moved into an industrial kitchen a few streets away and transitioned into manufacturing and wholesaling with a much larger range of fresh, homemade Italian meals.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Our greatest achievement is seeing our mother’s passion for food grow into a thriving business. Elsa, left Italy for Australia at 21. Working hard and teaching herself English, she went on to run two successful businesses with our father. Her passion and hard work has seen our mother’s food now available in stores all across Victoria.
If you had to choose one, what would be your favourite Apennine Gourmet Foods recipe?
It’s a hard choice but if we had to choose it would be our lasagna. It’s always been a family favourite and a meal we’ll never get sick of (even if we make it nearly every day!)
With an Italian heritage, do you have any tips for anyone travelling to Italy?
Our top 5 travel tips are:
- In August Italians celebrate Ferragosto (festival of the Assumption of Mary) and most are on holiday, so it’s busy and a lot of stores are closed! September is a great time to travel in Italy, it’s still warm but less crowded and much less expensive!
- Italians don’t line up so be prepared to push your way to the front, otherwise you’ll be waiting all day to be served!
- Don’t order a caffe latte, cappuccino or milky form of coffee after 11am or you’ll be met with outrage! Lattes are strictly for the morning only. Also, you also don’t sit down to drink your coffee. Order ‘un caffe’ at the bar, drink it there and pay afterwards at the till.
- Eat where the locals eat. Look for restaurants and cafes with older Italian men sitting out the front. They always have the best food and don’t charge ‘tourist’ prices
- Obviously we recommend visiting the Abruzzo region in central Italy and the Apennine mountains (Gran Sasso is a must!)
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take 3 things, what would they be?
Practicalities aside, we’d take a loaf of ciabatta bread, a nice bottle of red and our Bolognese sauce (to dunk the bread in!)