This month, we spoke with Tasmanian Chef and Electrolux Ambassador Massimo Mele to reveal his sustainability successes and how he practices mindful eating
Welcome to Better TLKS: a Swedish sustainability series—an expert-led interview series where we speak to leaders and pioneers in the sustainability space to uncover their sustainability journey and help inspire you to live a more considered life.
First up, we’re talking to Tasmanian Chef and Electrolux Ambassador, Massimo Mele. Born in Tasmania and raised in Naples, Italy where his culinary journey began.
Massimo spent his late teen years working in Hobart’s best restaurants after returning to Australia, and after 20 years cooking across some of the country’s busiest and best kitchens, he’s turned his focus local – the closer to his Hobart home the better.
Here, we talk to Massimo about how his approach to sustainability has evolved over the past decade and the biggest sustainability challenges in his industry.
Firstly, what does sustainable living mean to you?
To me, sustainable living is all about having a better understanding and awareness of your impact and actions. It’s also very much about living by example – practicing what you preach.
How has your approach to sustainability changed over the past decade?
Big question! There’s been a lot of change in that way I approach sustainability in the past 10 years. In the home, I now grow more than I buy. We try not to waste anything so I make my own compost for the garden. Nothing is purchased apart from some bits and pieces. We are far more conscious about plastic and keep our jars to reuse where possible. In general, my family and I are much more aware of our carbon footprint.
In your industry what are the biggest sustainability challenges?
Generally, consumers are unaware of the importance of seasonality and eating local produce - we want peaches in July and figs in December. As well as supporting local farmers and producers, eating more locally sourced produce means it doesn't have to travel as far to arrive on your plate, reducing the carbon footprint of that food. I don’t eat figs until April every year and I wait until January to buy tomatoes. It really allows you to appreciate the produce.
What sustainability successes have you had, that you would share with either other businesses in your industry or people at home?
In my Launceston restaurant, we have managed to turn 40 tonnes of food waste a year into compost that is returned to the local parks around the city. In both restaurants, we buy direct from farmers in Tasmania so there’s no food coming from the mainland. All the products arrive in crates that are returned to the farmer so we’re also limiting our use of wax boxes and plastic.
Electrolux is a Swedish brand. How has the Swedish way of living influenced the way you live?
I love the clean, green and minimal approach the Swedish people have with food, culture and the way they live their lives. It’s simple, practical and works with fluffing anything up. Electrolux have the same approach with their products - functional, practical without all the needless bits that can come with innovation.
Electrolux has a Better Living 2030 program encouraging people to eat more diverse protein sources and not always meat. Can you share a favourite meat-free recipe to cook at home?
In late summer I love, eggplants, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes all cooked over the fire and dressed with sherry vinegar, quality olive oil, fresh basil, and oregano. It’s a simple and great dish you can serve on some crusty bread with some local cheese.
What is coming up for you in 2023?
2023 is shaping up to be a big year for me. I’m very excited to be shooting my very own TV show in my hometown of Tasmania where I’ll be travelling around the state meeting wonderful producers and telling their stories through food.
Discover Massimo’s consciously designed Tasmanian home and how you can recreate his space with Electrolux.