In 2006 my Brother and I opened an Italian Wood fired Pizza Restaurant in Bargo, NSW, Australia called “The Local Italian”. Within the Kitchen my mum, Franca Cece, was the Head Chef. Mum’s duties were plentiful including making traditional handmade pasta’s and cakes. Even though mum was extremely busy she still managed, somehow, to fit in time to make Limoncello. The recipe was passed on to her and had been in the family for generations. Our clients loved mum’s cooking and after filling their bellies with her homemade Gnocchi, succulent Goat and homemade Tiramisu there was only one thing left to top it off, mum’s Limoncello. Mum handed out Limoncello in shot glasses to all clients at the end of their meals and she always admired their facial expressions after tasting it. Clients begged mum to sell the Limoncello to them to take home but, since it was against the law, mum refused. After watching this happen night after night for a year, I couldn’t help but think that there truly was a market for this liquid gold. I began helping mum make the Limoncello and soon mastered the art.
Once I knew that I could make it with the same integrity as mum, I contacted a Solicitor and started the ball rolling towards getting my Liquor License to produce it but, little did I know, the road ahead was to be a difficult and long one. After two and half painful years and two rejections later I was finally handed the License in early 2010. I went straight to work, I bought the alcohol and started making Limoncello to practice. I purchased the Cello trademark from Forster’s Australia. I also got my brother involved, as he used to be a graphic designer by trade, to work on the label design. We both agreed that a photo of mum with shot glasses filled with Limoncello was warranted on the back label as dedication to all her hard work at the restaurant. Sure enough within a month I had the final front and back labels designed, printed and finally Cello Limoncello was born. I remember I couldn’t wait to show mum the finished product because she still was unaware of what I had been doing behind her back. I asked mum to take a look at the Limoncello bottle, explaining that I had purchased it from a bottle shop in Leichhardt. After looking at the label mum said, “nice looking bottle”. I asked her to look at the back of it and so she did. There was a pause and complete silence, tears began to roll down her face. She was extremely happy and proud. She couldn’t believe we had kept this secret from her. With mum’s blessing and backing behind me, my wife, Teresa, and I started working on other flavours of liqueur and soon the Cello range consisted of four liqueurs: Lemon, Lime, Orange and the popular Passionfruit.
By the middle March 2010, the first Cello Liqueur bottles landed on the shelves of my local Bottle Shop in Horsley Park. At that point I decided it would be great to enter the Cello range into a competition. After speaking to Industry experts I decided that I would enter them into a competition, but not just any competition, it had to be the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. The IWSC being the biggest, most prestigious and most stringent competition in the world! My philosophy was if they were good they would win awards and if they didn’t win any awards then I would go back to the drawing board to improve them.
On 27th July 2010, the results from the competition were released, I was ecstatic. My Limoncello received first place in its category beating Limoncello’s from Italy, the Netherlands and New Zealand and received a Silver medal with Best in Class, Passioncello a second place in its category and a Silver medal and the Limecello and Arancello both received Bronze medals.
The judges at the IWSC described our Limoncello as: "Bright lemony colour with an opaque appearance. Cracking nose, bursting with juicy Sicilian lemon aromas which follow through in the mouth, vibrant acidity, a slight pithy bitterness and succulent lemon flavours, with very good distillate. A very serious product, beautifully made."
Not bad for an Australian Producer from Horsley Park that only received his License four months prior!
On the 1st October 2010, we received the results from the Beverage Testing Institute competition in Chicago, USA. We received a whopping 3 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal. This really proved to the world that our Liqueurs were definitely World Class!
The points received out of 100 were as follows: Limecello 94, Limoncello 92, Arancello 91 and Passioncello 89.
In 2011 we commenced producing Sambuca Bianca (aniseed liqueur) and straight away entered it into the IWSC-London and received a Silver medal! Over the next 5 years we worked hard getting Brand awareness, we attended over 20 Food and Wine shows per year. Cello was a now a National product!!!
Recently in January 2017 we launched an exciting new milk based liqueur which is taking Australia by storm! We named it “dolce by cello”. We have created 8 new flavours: Mango, Rockmelon, Lemon, Coffee, Chocolate, Coconut, Blueberry and Mint! All to die for! We now hope to conquer the WORLD with our amazing Liqueurs!!!
We believe that our secret is that we are very passionate about the products but much more than that the products are very sentimental to us. Teresa and I have enjoyed the roller coaster journey over the last 10 years and can’t wait to see what the future has to offer us. We would also like to thank all our commercial clients and customers for their continued support. We really appreciated it.
Cece Liqueur Pty Ltd