Founded by accident 15 years ago, Marisa's Kitchen is the epitome of a family owned and run business. Founder Marisa Pannunzio's lifelong passion for food began as a child, surrounded by the finest imported and local produce at her family’s Providore and growing up in a home full of authentic Italian cooking. By adding her own personal touch to traditional Italian recipes and using only the freshest produce and best ingredients, she has created a unique selection of gourmet meals, and dips, that has been acclaimed by lovers of fine food everywhere - including The Age who named Marisa's Kitchen as on 'Melbourne's 100 best kept secrets', but it's not a secret anymore.
We caught up with Marisa's Kitchen team to learn more.
Who are the team behind Marisa’s Kitchen and what made you launch?
Marisa’s Kitchen sprung to life 15 years ago in our Family business – Cardamone Gourmet Supermarket. We converted a space behind our deli into a commercial kitchen to make family meals and gourmet dips to sell in our retail store. Marisa has always had a flair and passion for cooking and people would travel from other suburbs to stock up on our meals. It was during this time our signature dip – CRUNCHY PARMESAN DIP – was listed as one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets in The Age Epicure. Marisa (mum) and I were also invited onto ‘The Circle’ to do a cooking segment. This chain of events, and the eventual sale of our retail business, gave us the push we needed to move premises and start wholesaling our products to other independent stores. We wanted to offer them a premium local product that you could not find in the majors. It was Marisa’s dream to be able to walk into random stores and find a tub of Crunchy parmesan on the shelf. It has taken her a long time to get used to it!
The team behind Marisa’sKitchen is all of Marisa’s family – John (husband), Belinda and Romilda (daughters) and Damian (son). Everyone has their department to look after.
What does a day in the life of the Marisa’s Kitchen team look like?
We always start the day with a coffee and a little chat. Then everyone hits the deck, Mum and I are Sales focused so we visit stores and make calls all day to check on our customers. Damian and John run the production kitchen and logistics, our products are made weekly to order, so every minute in the kitchen is crucial. Needless to say our favourite time of the week is 3pm on a Friday. All our customers have been serviced and we sit and make plans for the next week.
What was involved in developing the Marisa’s Kitchen range?
Marisa’s Kitchen began by accident. Marisa had a piece of 24 month aged Italian parmesan that was damaged and she needed to make something with it, it was too expensive to discard. That’s how Crunchy Parmesan was born! She walked through her store and produce department and let her senses and creativity guide her. Being a mum of three children, she often prepared her family meals whilst at work and the aromas wafted through the store in the late afternoon. Customers would dash in after work and ask ‘what is that smell? Gradually she started making bigger batches of our favourite family meals and selling them to her regular customers. Her Lasagne’s were in constant demand. As the demand grew, we decided she needed to be branded, and we fittingly named her ‘Marisa’s Kitchen’ because that’s exactly what it was.
We were lucky that we had sold all our products in our own retail store for many years. Therefore it was easy to work out which products were the best received and would sell in other stores.
Can you tell us more about the nutritional value of the Marisa’s Kitchen range?
Because our range is based on our family meals they are wholesome and have no added preservatives, thickeners or stabilisers. We use Olive Oil in our Soups and Sauces, just as we always have at home. Marisa loves to tell people that she feeds her grandchildren our products, and she only gives them the best.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Marisa has achieved a lot in her life, the most memorable for us is that in her 50’s she went back to school and became a qualified chef. Something she always dreamed of doing.
Our most current achievement, which we are proud of, is receiving a 2017 Fine Food GOLD medal for our Chicken, Vegetable and Barley Soup. It is always exciting to win awards for your products, especially when you make them with so much love and passion.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take 3 things, what would they be?
I should probably say my husband and two children. Other than them I would have to say; A raft, flares and matches haha. If I couldn’t have those; I would need a huge tub of Crunchy Parmesan and a bottle of Champagne as my last meal ;)