In 2001, my sister Marika and I started our own child care centre, Little Darlings, in the Sutherland Shire. Mary is our on-site chef and has been cooking up a storm for the children there, just the way she would as if she were at home cooking for her own grandchildren – all ten of them, including her first great-grandchild!
Mary’s genuine passion to feed the masses with good wholesome food is the basis for her amazing culinary reputation. Who else could get a child to eat black eye beans, spinach or broccoli and then ask “please Yia Yia can I have some more?”
These very words were, and still are, music to Mary’s ears because feeding children is her entire world!
“Of course!” she would reply with a smile reflecting her deep satisfaction. It was as though every time a child asked her for more, she was somehow succeeding in saving the world one plate at a time. As the years went on, parents at Little Darlings couldn’t believe what their children were having for lunch. We even had to sneak some parents in during lunchtime so that they could witness it for themselves.
The children then started asking for Yia Yia Mary’s meals for dinner.
From there began the next phase of our journey!
We developed a cookbook – Yia Yia’s Kitchen Secrets . Founded on 15 years’ experience entrenched in the flourishing child care centre, the cookbook contains the top 50 most popular recipes among the children. The parents loved it, but like most of us, life gets busy and finding the time to shop for ingredients, cook and clean up can be too much.
Parents would often ask Mary to cook for them – “Mary please, what do I have to do to get my hands on your food!”
… and there marks the beginning of Little Darlings Kitchen!
With 6 products currently on offer, Mary is the mastermind behind every recipe and oversees every step of the process; so much so Little Darlings Kitchen is essentially home-cooked food for your very own ‘Little Darlings’.