People of Helping Hand: Lili
Lili is a resident at our home in Lightsivew. While food blogs, cooking shows and gourmet inspired travel are commonplace, Lili was ahead of the curve in sharing her passion for food.
Lili was born in Alexandria, which she describes as a cultural melting pot. ‘It was very cosmopolitan, I went to school with Italians, Greeks, Armenians and it’s where my family lived during World War Two, before coming to Australia in 1953.
‘I had practically just arrived in Adelaide and immediately went to work at The Advertiser’, says Lili. She would go on to establish a number of food businesses and well as writing about food and teaching people about preparing food with fresh, local ingredients.
‘I come from a family of good cooks and grew up making fresh food from scratch. We didn’t just open tins in those days. My mum was a wonderful cook and so were my aunts. When I was growing up, families didn’t have fridges. I have memories of my mother going to the market every day to buy fresh produce. She was the one who first taught me to cook, and I have taught my children and grandchildren. My grandson is a fantastic cook and I have taught him everything I know’ says Lili proudly.
Lili ran a pasta manufacturing business in Sydney for 16 years.
‘Believe me, when I say I know everything there is to know about making, and selling, pasta’, says Lili.
In the 1970s, Lili established The French Kitchen at Burnside Village which she ran for eight years.
‘People would always be asking me, “how do you make this, how do you make that?” They really wanted to learn about buying and cooking with fresh food.’ She laughs when she remembers their bestseller was the humble Cornish Pasty. ‘Customers would be queueing out of the shop and along the footpath. We couldn’t keep up!’
Another career highlight was working as a Manager at Mount Lofty House, after it reopened following the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983.
When asked what advice she would give to someone wanting to start a business venture, her response is to the point –
‘Getting into business is daunting. You just take it on and do it. Everyone is nervous when starting out.’
As Lili, scrolls through her iPad which is filled with pictures of dishes she has prepared, she describes the many gourmet destinations she has visited. Trips to Italy, France, the Rhine region and Switzerland have inspired her and sustained her passion. Her favorite cuisines are Italian, French Spanish and Asian. Her ideal meal would be a pasta dish. “They serve a lasagna here which is very good!”
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