The Dello Mano Raison d’etre ( our reason for existence)
The dream of our own small business ( later to become Dello Mano) began near the beginning of our relationship, when we were living in Sydney. We were working for the other side then: multinational brands. In those food companies’ laboratories and rows of cubicles, we were trained to see food differently. I was originally a food scientist, helping to engineer mass-produced food to be more efficient, more robust and in many ways farther from the fallibility of human hands. Later formally trained as a Marketer, I was responsible for brand and marketing, business development. Bien was in marketing too, where he tried to find new ways to sell and grow the products. Our careers were rewarding in many ways, the companies were good companies and great to their staff and honestly we learned heaps (many skills and talents that we are able to apply now at Dello Mano are a result of the training or skills we developed in those big companies). We were appreciative of those experiences however we were also very aware that they lacked a venue for the creative energy and compassion we both longed to share with the world.
Despite spending our days steeped in the big-business ethos of mass-produced food, we shared a passion for all things handmade and home-cooked. As soon as we heard of the Slow Food Movement, a grassroots organization founded in Italy, we were fervent supporters. We admired the movement’s dedication to promoting real food made with local ingredients and traditional methods, no matter how time-consuming or inefficient those methods might be by the standards of industrial production. The movement was the antithesis of everything our work represented, and we wanted to make it our raison d’etre ( reason for being) . Someday, we vowed, we would start a food business of our own, one that embodied the basic tenets of the Slow Food Movement.
The weekends were an opportunity to shed our corporate accouterments and explore the bastions of slow food in our own city. We had a special fondness for the vibrant, historic Sydney Fish Market, a working fishing port on Blackwattle Bay. It was exhilarating to watch the fishermen and fishmongers in action, their confident, practiced motions revealing a deep-set connection to their ancient trades. On particularly fine Sundays, we packed a picnic from the market — fresh-fried fish and chips one week, smoky grilled prawns the next — and headed to the Sydney harbour to enjoy it. There on the banks of the Sydney Harbour, seafood shells scattered around us, we spread out broad sheets of poster paper and began to sketch out our small business dreams.
After the birth of our first child, Slow Food suddenly became more immediate than a mere idealistic movement. We dedicated hours of time and energy to calculating exactly how much nutrition our baby needed, and how much we could deliver with carefully-calibrated pots of puree. The mash at the market prominently listed all the vitamins and nutrients on the side of the package, but we wanted something more deeply nourishing — food that carried the love and devotion we felt in each bite. When we had our second child and had to begin the whole improvisational process over again, we decided to make a move that some might consider drastic. We put our lives on hold and headed to Italy, the birthplace of the Slow Food movement and a country whose culture is intrinsically linked to the love of food.
We arrived in Turin just in time for the annual Terra Madre Salone del Gusto (Mother Earth Salon of Taste), the Slow Food Movement’s bi-annual festival celebrating traditional gastronomie and sustainable food production. The event’s global-minded name is no mere pose: the thousands of delegates who attended represented nearly three-quarters of the countries of the world. Each delegate group presented a uniquely handmade but devotedly traditional version of their native gastronomie, from the millet couscous of Senegal to the syrupy sweets of the Balkans. Together, they painted a broad panorama of the incredibly diverse flavors our planet has to offer. It invigorated us to see people from every part of the world doing exactly what we hoped to do: devoting their lives to caring for people by creating and sharing beautiful, handmade food. They were proof that this radical raison d’etre we had decided to adopt was not only sustainable but also underpinned by a global network of respect and support.
Even after the exhibition drew to a close, we continued to be inspired by the love of food evident in all aspects of Italian daily life. We wandered through small-goods shops and markets, fascinated by the intimate relationship between customer and producer that blossomed in each transaction. At a tiny salumeria in Rome, we watched the butcher lovingly hand-wrap the smallest cut of prosciutto, then pass it to the customer like a gift. That image lingered in our minds as we lounged on the Campo de’ Fiori, talking about our food-business dreams just as we had all those years ago on the Sydney Harbour. Then, in the fading light of the Roman evening, the memory of the salumeria shifted and crystallised into a vision of our own food business. We would start a sweets shop patterned after the small-goods shops of Italy, a shrine to the beauty of handmade food. In honor of our Italian inspiration, we coined the name Dello Mano ( read more about our name) , which in our beginners’ Italian translated to ‘of the hand’ — the way we swore we would always make our products.
The dedication to beautiful, handmade food that so inspired us in Italy remains the central philosophy of Dello Mano. We continue to live out the tenets of the Slow Food Movement, from our insistence on using farm-fresh eggs to the painstaking decorative artistry we devote to each cake and brownie that leaves our kitchens. We want our clients to understand our raison d’etre, too, so we include a personal thank-you note with the confirmation for every online order. In the notes, we remind our customers that we are no multinational corporate conglomerate but a small family business — just a husband and wife doing our best to share our passion with the world. It is part of our mission to nurture and protect the dying art of handmade food, and by supporting us you are helping us to continue that legacy. We thank all our customers for helping Dello Mano come this far, and we hope you’ll join us for the rest of the journey.
Buy Dello Mano online http://www.dellomano.com.au
Dello Mano Stores trade 7 days, with the exception of a couple of holidays.