Valentina gains skills for new career in food safety

Mar 25, 2024

Valentina accepts her Playford Trust award from Fiona MacLachlan.

Establishing a small business in the Adelaide Hills has put Valentina Antonelli on track to a new career, although it’s not quite what she anticipated.

While setting up her fresh pasta business, Mamma Caterina, Valentina developed an interest in food safety that went beyond her own production process to helping others and inspired her to become a food safety auditor.

She is currently studying the Diploma of Food Science and Technology at TAFE SA and recently received an award from Sandy’s Memorial Trust as part of the annual Playford Trust/TAFE SA Awards.

Cash awards from Sandy’s Memorial Trust assist people studying and developing careers in agriculture, aquaculture and food production.

Valentina spent more than a decade working as a project manager in the Information Technology sector in Europe before moving to Melbourne with her husband Michael and says her mid-life career change was driven by the need to be more hands-on and “see the results” of her hard work.

She decided to pursue her passion for cooking and enrolled in the Certificate IV in Patisserie in 2019 and amid COVID restrictions, she and Michael also started searching for a place to relocate and set up a food business.

“When we were looking to set up our business, we looked at all states but it made sense to go to the Adelaide Hills for the space, affordability and proximity to services, and there is a great sense of community, too,” she says.

Valentina went on to complete her Certificate IV in Patisserie at TAFE SA and establish Mamma Caterina, specialising in artisan ravioli and sauces, at Mount Barker.

“When we started the business, it was food safety, the regulations, risks and challenges, that I found most interesting, so I decided to pursue it further,” she says.

“Developing this skillset is good for my business and they’re good skills to help others.”

In addition to her Diploma course at TAFE SA, Valentina has undertaken additional training to achieve certifications in food safety auditing and as a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) consultant.

“I’m looking forward to applying this knowledge and helping other businesses get their systems and processes right so they can produce high quality food that is safe for consumers,’ she says.

Pictured: Valentina receives her award from Fiona MacLachlan, a trustee of Sandy's Memorial Trust.