GUEST BLOGGER: Bree May from Food According to Bree
Ordinarily the words ‘Trade Fair’ will induce large yawns of boredom from me and the uncanny need to wash my hair that entire weekend, but the Fine Food Expo at Olympic Park in Sydney wasn’t for an ordinary trade, and it certainly wasn’t an ordinary fair.
I’m talking four full days of everything and anything to do with eatables, hospitality and the food retail industry.
I’m talking two gigantic pavilions, as far and wide as the eye can see with row after row of big and small exhibitors offering tantalising taste bud teasers, and wish-list commercial items as varying as ice machines, imported café seating, automatic pancake makers and printed sandwich wrappers.
I’m talking national and international brands and innovators.
Entire states and countries represented in large scale installations, each manned by hosts from trade commissions, industry leaders and passionate producers.
Well known Australian and international Chefs teaching masterclasses, from butchery and baking, to Gelato making, gourmet pie competitions, food and beverage tastings and cooking demonstrations.
Import/Export deals being done and products being launched to the masses.
If you are a member of the hospitality and food industry, whether you’re a producer, buyer, restaurateur, entrepreneur or media, this is one foodie pilgrimage you need to diarise with steadfast haste. Yes, the organisers might like to call it the ‘Fine Food Fair’, but I prefer to call it my own personal Shangri-La.
Walking into the main pavilion, I had South Australia firmly on my mind.
My delight couldn’t be contained when raised like a shining beacon, was the banner of our state flying high, towering over the auditorium with a powerful presence. I felt proud, like I was watching my best friend win a talent show. And really, it was a talent show, the Miss Universe of the food industry.
If you haven’t treated yourself to a bag of moreishly delectable FruChocs, or a palm oil free Giant Twin, nor thoroughly enjoyed an Unsweetened Nippy’s O.J. or Tangy Lemon juice, can you really call yourself a South Australian?
Yes, the frog cake and square pie will continue to live on thanks to another privately owned and operated South Australian business. South Aussie’s are such a patriotic bunch, we rally for our own.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Greenwheat Freekeh had a stand, because although I already stock their delicious and healthy product in my pantry, I didn’t realize they were a local business. A true success story, they have collaborated with big name brands Safcol and McCain to supply freekeh for readymade meals, some of which will be served on navy ships and to our defence force.
I spoke at length to Andrew Puglisi the Managing Director of Kinkawooka shellfish, another gorgeous local product of which I am a long-time customer. Sustainably farmed and fished, Kinkawooka Shellfish is accredited as a Friend of the Sea, and is recognised by this International Seafood Sustainability organisation. Only products from stocks which are not overexploited can be certified. The Kinkawooka mussel farms also help restore balance to the ocean by consuming burley by-products from the local fishing industry, subsequently producing a superior and well-fed mollusc.
After visiting the Macro Meats stand – alongside their wholesale restaurant brand Paroo, I have to wonder, why native game isn’t regularly on more peoples dinner table. Kangaroo is high in protein and iron, plus super low in fat.
Macro Meats procure the services of local sharpshooters on designated seasonal properties around Australia, utilising the entire carcass from animals already tagged to be culled. Adopting more humane practices, the macro shooters also only hunt male Kangaroo.
Hunting feral game is sustainable, and a necessity for our rural land and farmers, plus there aren’t too many things in life more delicious than a perfectly cooked piece of roo or rabbit fillet.
Next I met the husband and wife team of Graeme and Paula from Turley Mae Foods, who were attending the fair to launch their brand new food line. Based on recipes passed down through the family, Turley Mae has the most delicious Worcestershire sauce I ever did taste, and don’t even get me started on their Sheoak and Mallee smoked BBQ sauces, an absolute delight. Turley Mae are also retailing to the food service market, and I can tell you now, any gourmet burger bar in town would be apt to have a sandwich with their sauce smothered all over it. The Turley family also run a fully equipped commercial kitchen which they hire to budding manufacturers and caterers, with future hopes of expansion also in this area.
I then made my way over to Taings, family owned and operated noodle producer. Back in the late 80s when my mother attended a Thai cookery course, I was first introduced to Taings fresh Hokkien noodles, and I’m still to this day a loyal customer. Over the years, Taings has continued to grow without diminishing quality. And recently after many months of research, Taings have launched an ambient, preservative free, long life noodle product. Look for it on a supermarket shelf near you.
As a devotee of from-scratch and preservative free cooking, I can certainly appreciate that what S(O)ME foods offer is an answer for all the cooks out there who want wholesome real food with a focus on a low FODMAP diet, but need it really quick.
Their delicious range of curry simmer and pasta sauces need nothing added bar some fresh vegetables or meat. Nothing artificial added, and free from Gluten, onion, garlic and lactose, S(O)ME foods products are designed for those with IBS and other food intolerances. This is real food, from the pantry, and as they like to say, there are many foods you can’t eat – but there are SOME.
Still speaking of real food for time poor cooks, next up I visited the stand for Australian Whole Foods and their product line, Clever Cooks.
This privately owned South Australian company make fridge fresh ready meals for busy families. A healthy and inexpensive alternative to takeaway, utilizing heat and vacuum methods to ensure freshness from factory to table without adding any artificial preservatives and substituting on quality. All recipes are made from scratch using real ingredients. Australian Whole Foods are on a mission to see their product on supermarket shelves country-wide.
By this stage, I was parched. I made my way to the T-Bar stand and indulged in a totally guilt-free and utterly refreshing King Coconut water iced tea.
This delicious new product from the family-owned South Australian Tea salon is made with either Green or Black tea and naturally sweetened by combining it with healthy coconut water, and is henceforth my new go-to summer thirst quencher. After presenting me with a small selected pack of their gorgeous tea blends, I said my goodbyes and carried on. But, not without first checking the Auscold stand next door.
All these perishable products need to make their way from A to B, and who better to transport them than this locally owned freight company who specialize in cold storage and freight.
Around the corner I was met with a candy land by Yummy Snack Foods. Yes, if you’ve ever been into an IGA or any number of local greengrocers, you would know this South Australian brand well. I was also delighted to discover that they donate 10c from selected nut line purchases to the McGrath Foundation for Breast Cancer support.
South Australia was flying the flag in this culinary World tour and representing well. Support the businesses that support our state, not just because they are local heroes, but because they produce stellar products to equal the very best.
The Fine Food Fair will make its way to Melbourne next in September 2016, and I will make my way there too. My only regret from this food filled fantasy excursion was that I went for only one day, next time I will go for the entire tour. This visit was just a scratch on the surface, there’s just so much to explore, so much to eat, and so little time…
Nippy’s, Golden North, T-Bar and Robern Menz are Brand South Australia members.