I recently spoke with Dan Stock, Editor for Herald Sun’s Taste about The Craft & Co. This led to a discussion about the reason why I am a passionate supporter of artisanal food and beverage production.
Sharing and preserving traditional food and drink techniques is something that was instilled in me by my parents at a young age. Growing up in a shop in Melbourne where people would line up 10 layers deep waiting to be served – watching them talk passionately about food, wine and family gatherings to the challenges of maintaining tradition – was one of the biggest thrills of my childhood.
For the past 40 years here in Melbourne, my parents Celeste and Lou Baggio have contributed to preserving and disseminating food and drink making techniques and rituals.
So the tradition of beverage production runs deep in our family, my grandfather was a cooper and made oak vats for winemakers in the region of Montello some 100 years ago! The ‘in’ family joke was that my father ran away from Italy not wanting to work with his dad in the wine industry, and I ran off to Italy not wanting to work with my dad in the wine industry, but here we are!
Without a doubt I learned a lot of my ‘craft’ working alongside my mum Celeste at Cellar Plus in the 80’s. She would be the best sales person (to date) I’ve ever met! And I have employed near a hundred over the years. She was a pure natural and was followed by her clients everywhere she worked. I felt the buzz and thrill of teaching, educating and passing on knowledge from a very young age. I also worked most days with my Dad, Lou, in his factory build constructing, where I witnessed the challenges of building businesses.
What put all aspects into overdrive was when I was blessed with three boys and my wonderful wife Lisa, team Baggio gravitated and grew as a family around the interests of food and beverage. It was organic; Lisa took an interest in the Home Make It business, and my sons without any real prompting just being exposed starting taking an interest in the winemaking and more recently what is going on at The Craft & Co. For my part it only accelerated my passion in passing on information and experiences I have learned, to build businesses whether my own or those of my customers.
In celebrating the growth of community producers, my family recently published our first-ever book: The Makers. It’s a story of food, family and foreigners that pays homage to my parents and their customers. Gathering together stories, recipes and tips from family, friends and the extended community of passionate producers, I hope this book will inspire others to organise brewing, winemaking, salami making or cheese making days with family and friends or staff to experience what I view as a very unique artisan legacy.