Cat Gazzoli grew up spending huge amount of time in Italy with her family so it’s no surprise that, when she launched the organic baby food brand Piccolo earlier this year, it was the flavours of the Mediterranean that influenced the different flavours she created. Cat began her career in food working for the United Nations food agencies in Rome. She continued her passion to campaign for good food as the CEO of Slow Food UK, before launching Piccolo with the backing of mentor and friend, Pru Leith. She lives in London and has a daughter, Juliet.
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
We are definitely a family that have always had travel at the core of our life, because my dad was with the United Nations for over 25 years and he liked to take me along on ‘field trips’ when the location was safe enough and my mother has her own boutique travel agency specialising in supporting the wine trade, and she too would take me with her to gorgeous locations. I have wonderful memories of road trips through the jungles and coast of Ecuador and the Southern states of South and North Carolina with my father and the beautiful island of St Bart’s and Napa Valley with my mother. Their travel styles are quite different; my dad is a food adventurer type and my mother is more about relaxing in a lovely setting with the right book and glass of champagne by her side.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
Mexican food travels with my Italian husband who adores Mexico. We had both visited many times before meeting and cherish Mexican culture and gastronomy, but it was totally different to go together. Oaxaca is fantastic. We will return with our daughter who is a little foodie also.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
For long distance travel her first big trips were Mauritius and and Sri Lanka. She loves herbs and spices so in both countries we visited spice farms, which is super exciting for her. She knows a lot of the spices she sees growing naturally are in the Piccolo range she helped create. She does love the sun and swimming so warm weather and a bucket and spade with interesting foods to boot and she could not be happier.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children?
I think its important to do some due diligence on medical facilities when travelling in developing countries. We have always done that but it was only on our last big trip that we actually had to take action on foreign medical services in rapid time. We got quite unlucky in India where we ended up in three different hospitals needing emergency care for Juliet. It was very stressful to see our child in pain and so suddenly. However, we were so impressed by the warmth and skills of the doctors and nurses even in remote locations where medical supplies are more scarce. She talks to this day about India in the same sentence as doctors and hospitals.
Do you ever travel with your child for work?
I regularly take Juliet with me to visit our farmers and development kitchens. Piccolo’s sourcing is very much from the Mediterranean basin so its pretty fun for her to to come with me. Her grandparents sometimes accompany us, too. We also have partners who I like to visit in person, but cannot manage it in a day trip like Waterbabies in deep Devon. So I take Juliet with me and do an over-night trip. It’s a bit challenging when she is not well behaved but, as a single mum during the week, I have to juggle the best I can. I don’t like to leave her overnight without me. Our partners are very understanding that it’s a family business with a juggling mum style!
Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?
We spend a lot of time by the sea every year in a small village called Grado, Italy where we rent a summer house. This is a lovely holiday as she knows and loves the town and has her little beach and playground where she has her friends; this makes a big difference to her enjoyment and mine, too. I also have grandparents and an extended family who visit and babysit so I can have down-time myself, taking a jog on the beach-front or swimming at the closed warm pool which overlooks the sea. Its all very vintage Italian Riviera style; we love it.
Q: And your worst?
We loved India and my husband and I had both travelled through the country ourselves before having Juliet, but having a child so ill is very frightening and, as gorgeous as the trip was, our core memory is of parental team work around taking care of and soothing our child. But the cooking lessons, kindness of the locals, and stunning natural beauty, do make Kerala India a top choice for a toddler holiday.
Cat’s daughter Juliet in Kerala, India.
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Aside from Piccolo pouches, which were an on-the-go snack for Juliet as a toddler when we are running around, I pack dried fruits and nuts her grandpa makes for her. I try to pack light but always have good organic products for her skin and hair with me, too. I am a Childs Farm fan of the 3-2-1 shampoo and body soap since Juliet and I are normally on the move to a warmer climate with swimming available.
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
Juliet tends to pep up when she gets to the airport and on the plane and this is not what fellow passengers would like, of course. I try to calm her down with lots of reading and bring drawing and colour sticker books for the flight. I also have my travel back-pack of activities that a good friend gave me that worked well on her two boys so the treasure chest has gotten a second life with Juliet.