Angelo’s Daughter: for the love of food
A passion for Italian food and a desire to honour her father Angelo’s heritage as an Italian chef has inspired psychologist MariaRosa Mallardo to create Angelo’s Daughter. The Brisbane-based family business makes authentic Italian pasta sauces that are garnering a very loyal and enthusiastic customer following in the Brisbane area. And this delicious success story all began in the midst of the COVID madness of 2020.
Mallardo grew up surrounded by food and family. Raised in England, Mallardo would spend her summers with her family in Liguria and Naples. She also learned how to cook from her father, working alongside him in his cafe and deli in London. When COVID first struck, she found herself wanting a way to connect with her family in the UK and Italy.
“I was talking to a friend of mine, and she was telling me about this woman she knew who had started making and selling pasta sauce,” she says. “It didn’t really register at the time. But then I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘I can make pasta sauce!’ It’s easy for me, because it’s what I’ve grown up with. And then the name Angelo’s Daughter came to me. I thought it sounded like it really might be possible.”
A family affair
Mallardo’s husband Brendan was immediately on board, securing a business licence and a commercial kitchen to cook in within the space of a week. Mallardo then reached out to her family overseas to help with the recipe development.
“When we first started, I was trying to get the recipes right,” she says. “Because it’s one thing cooking at home; it’s another cooking to bigger quantities. You’ve got to make sure that the quality of the food is consistent, and that you’re getting the flavours right.”
Mallardo would spend hours on FaceTime with her father. She would be at the kitchen stove, and he would be offering his advice. Then the extended family got involved.
“He’d go to my aunts’ and uncles’ for lunch,” Mallardo says. “I’d phone them up, and they’d say, ‘We’re making this sauce; you could do this sauce’. So I’d ask them to show me how they make it. A recipe book developed from that. It was lots of fun. The family just wrapped themselves around me. And my dad is really proud that I’m following in his footsteps.”
A life of its own
Mallardo and her husband soon started taking orders and hand-delivering to families in suburbs surrounding their own. With full-time jobs, the couple would spend the weekends cooking sauces and hand-rolling meatballs, all of which were made to order.
“But it began to get bigger; it began to get too big,” Mallardo says. “So then we started selling through REKO, which worked well. We found a bigger kitchen with big burners and lots of storage space. So we started cooking there, which has made everything much easier. Now we snap-freeze our food as soon as we make it. It means we can make more, store more and sell more. But it’s still growing and growing. It’s taking on a life of its own.”
Sauce from the source
Angelo’s Daughter now offers nine types of pasta sauce. Some favourites, like bolognese and polpette, are standard offerings, but there are also seasonal offerings, such as minestrone or pumpkin and chickpea soup. And all ingredients are sourced locally.
“We source meat from our local butcher, Meat at Billy’s in Ashgrove,” Mallardo says. “We buy vegetables from the Rocklea Markets in Brisbane. And we have a pasta man on the Gold Coast. We only service seven or eight suburbs around where we live. We’re a small family business, so we need to keep it contained. We’d rather stay local. Buy local and sell local.”
While the popularity of Angelo’s Daughter continues to grow at a steady rate, Mallardo is unsure about expanding the business much further. This would risk the integrity of the food she’s so passionate about and so proud of producing.
“That, for me, is the most important thing,” she says. “That’s why people buy it. I can feel we’re growing, and it’s manageable for now. And I’d love to be able to give more sauce to more people. I love that people are happy with my food. That makes me very happy.”
Pride and joy
Next week, Mallardo will be returning to the UK to reunite with her father and extended family for the first time in four years. Of course, they’ll be cooking together.
“My father has always been a real inspiration to me, in so many ways,” she says. “But particularly for Angelo’s Daughter; he is the force behind it all. He’s one of the main reasons why I continue to carry on our heritage in this way. I feel that’s really important.
“Angelo’s Daughter is something that was born out of passion. It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s something that I really want to keep doing. It’s hard work, yes. But I keep doing it because of the love of the food. I love cooking for others. I love the joy that it brings.”
To find out more about Angelo’s Daughter, or to place an order if you’re lucky enough to be in the Brisbane area, head to angelosdaughter.com.au