‘Looking forward with confidence’ is the theme for the incoming year for Women in Agriculture and Business (WAB) in South Australia and that theme is shared by the Charlton branch.

At the branch’s July meeting, president Liz Mickan reflected on a successful year of interesting speakers – despite COVID restrictions – and members are looking forward with confidence to the year ahead.

Glenys Calderwood was a surprised recipient of an award recognising 40 years of WAB membership at the annual general meeting.

Kris Bunder proved an interesting guest speaker at the meeting as he shared his background, training and career path that has led to ownership of the ever-popular Del Giorno’s Restaurant in Port Lincoln.

Mr Bunder grew up in Streaky Bay and completed his schooling in Port Lincoln, before commencing an apprenticeship at The Great Northern Hotel, training as a chef.

Following this he worked in Adelaide for a year, which was enough to confirm his preference for country living.

Mr Bunder took a position as head chef at the Tasman Hotel in Port Lincoln and later moved to Del Giorno’s, in time taking ownership together with his wife Brenda.

Her accounting skills wedded to his cooking expertise made for a very positive business ‘marriage’.

Abundant local seafood and produce has given impetus to a much broader menu in the restaurant – years ago, hotel menus featured only whiting, oysters and calamari in their seafood selection, whereas now the range is extensive.

‘Fashion’ on plates has gone from stacking food high to spreading it across plates, the inclusion of edible flowers and now chefs wanting to place food on half the plate.

Negotiating COVID has been a challenge and the initial three months, March to May 2020, saw a 68 per cent drop in income.

They were hard days for businesses, necessitating some lateral thinking and adaptability to survive.

Branching into take away enabled Del Giorno’s to retain their core staff and survive, helped by excellent support from the community.

In complete contrast, the ensuring year has been their best ever and regulated seating has been a positive for managing the restaurant.

A more recent venture has seen the pair holding masterclasses in their home.

Upon reflection, Mr Bunder said running a business between 20014 and 2010 was easy, while running the business presently and managing 30 staff consumed 80 per cent of his work time.

He said he felt things were pretty much back to normal, however he noted a problem in obtaining and retaining staff.

Mr Bunder said he was looking forward with interest to the year ahead, with a continuing love for the food industry and his local town.