Real Food Heroes

A Story Delivered to Your Doorstep

By Georgia Booth

The Christmas food hampers with miles of red cellophane and curly ribbon whose contents sit in the back of the pantry until next year are slowly become a thing of the past, replaced with a new breed of hampers that are so much more than a convenient gift. Across the country we are seeing start-ups focusing on providing amazing artisan produce, ordered online, as the new way to be introduced to excellent produce that can be difficult to discover at a single shop or market. These are hampers and food boxes with stories  and names attached to the produce. It’s like ordering a mini farmer’s markets to your doorstep.

One such supplier is Butler and Bentley. Last New Year’s Eve, friends Nick and Anthony put on a dinner party for their friends. They wanted top quality produce but found themselves having to driving all over Sydney to get it - first the fish market, then the deli, butcher, bottle shop.  In the new year they had an idea: wouldn’t it make life easier if all these things were in once place, and even better, that they could be delivered? Around eleven months later, Butler and Bentley was launched, an online artisan grocer where the sheer diversity of products make it stand apart.

The sections on the site are whole stores unto themselves - a greengrocer, butcher, salumeria with cured meats, dips, pasta and antipasti, a cheese room, bakehouse, cellar, florist and desserts, all from brands with an excellent reputation. 
 “Everything is done with a lot of care, a lot of love,” Anthony Parisi, co-owner, explains. “We don’t have an actual space so everything is packed to order, with a 48 hour turnaround. That might not be fast enough for some people but this way we can guarantee freshness and quality. People have been very impressed and surprised with the condition the food comes in - especially things like seafood.”

If you want to check them out before buying, keep an eye out for them at farmer’s markets around Sydney, where they’ll be showing off a sample of their produce. Their first one is the Christmas Artisan Food Gift Market, where they’ll be selling Botanic juices, Iggy’s bread, the Seventh Duchess tea, Tar10 chutneys and jams and Christmas treats. 

Another new hamper company doing things a little differently is Hunter Gatherer founded by Alex Hutchison. This new company stands out for two reasons - the start up used crowd funding to get of the ground and it focuses on telling the story of different regions in Australia through their food.  

A childhood spent in the back of a Volvo, driving around different areas of Australia left Alex nostalgic for these experiences, of storytelling and good food. To remedy this, he has created Hunter Gatherer, to tell stories about our food. A seasonal hamper spotlighting produce from a single region, the ingredients compiled to complement is the perfect recipe for a dinner party with friends. The aim is to read about the producer, where they are from and what makes their story or methods special.  The produce is not only second to none but a conversation can be started about the region, the story, and the people behind the food.

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Meet Gena from Sweetness the Patisserie

By Georgia Booth

Meet Gena, from Sweetness the Patisserie. We adore her here at Real Food not only for her passion for all things sweet, amazing artisan skills but also because we have a stash of rocky road that often comes in handy around 3pm. 

Gena Karpf, founder of Sweetness the Patisserie, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska in a food-loving family. Gena was drawn to sweets and baking in particular at a young age, and had mastered pies, cakes and cookies by the time she was a teenager. Her love for baking never diminished and in 2005 she decided to leave her job in the technology world and become a fully qualified pastry chef.

Her beautiful store, Sweetness the Patisserie has been around for five years, famous for the delectable house made ‘SWEET mallows’ (marshmallows) and the open kitchen where customers can see the wonders of making delicious desserts.

When asked what her favourite flavor of marshmallow is, I didn’t expect her to choose vanilla. Then she explained that a company called Heilala provides the vanilla they use, situated in Tonga and dedicated to producing high quality organic vanilla. “When it melts in a cup of hot cocoa, it really is something else. Things that are simple are often the best,” Gena says. The most popular flavours are passionfruit, which she describes as “a total showstopper,” followed by raspberry.

If there is one thing she’d like others to understand about the slow food, artisan movement, it’s that it’s far more difficult than people realise to put it into practice economically. “Everyone feels good when people talk about organics and slow food but few people realise the effort and investment goes into making that happen. It’s not hard to do, it’s just very hard to make money from it,” Gena says. “There is a very human cost in trying to make hand made food – we are unique in that we are not industrialised. It can be done, but it is a real challenge,” she says. 

With every decision she makes, there are many factors she weighs up – it is extremely important that she buys local, supports farmers, chooses fair trade but at the same time, quality and consistency are equally as important. The core principle is to make artisan products by hand that are the best they can be. If the standard of product she needs is not available to her locally, she buys elsewhere. 

Gena's not sure yet what she’ll be buying at the Christmas markets, but she’s happy it will be edible. “I want to buy things that at the end of their use, there is nothing left, things that people can have a great experience consuming. A gift that is enjoyed and then finished is a good gift.”

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Say Hi to Perfect South!

By Kate Walsh

Run by Paul and Renee, this little tea company sources all their green tea from Australian plantations and it is beautiful! They'll be at the market so drop by to pick up a perfect pressie. 

How exactly does one become a tea master?
Renee: Ahh yes, the tea master title is intriguing. There is a certification course run by Australian Tea Masters. You study hard, taste and evaluate a lot of tea and sit a test with a blind tasting

Where is green tea is grown in Australia?
Renee: It’s grown in a few places – in North East Victoria (that’s were our tea comes from), there’s a plantation near Gosford in New South Wales, some up in the Tweed Valley in Queensland, and then in Western Australia and I think in Tasmania too.

What were your jobs before starting Perfect South?
Renee: I worked in the PR industry as a social media and brand strategist, which has been very handy for starting a business.
Paul: I was a dolphin trainer and an occasional graphic designer. I still do all the ongoing design work for Perfect South which is always fun.

If there was one thing about the food system you could change, what would it be?
Renee: Waste. It bothers me no end to see perfectly good food thrown out. If the public knew or saw how much food is wasted on a daily basis they’d be horrified. We definitely need more support or organisations like OzHarvest.
Paul: For me, the big one is factory farming. I made the decision a couple of years ago to only eat meat that came from ethical farms.

Perfect South Cooler by Bloodwood

30ml Perfect South sencha green tea
45ml high quality gin
15ml La Goya manzanilla sherry
10ml sugar syrup
10ml lemon juice

Pre-make the green tea and chill down in the fridge. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Serve over ice in a tall glass, top with soda water and garnish with fresh cucumber.



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Hello Oscar from Young Henry's!

By Kate Walsh

Meet Oscar, a brewer from Young Henry's, a Newtown based brewery that has become a fixture of the community. 
What was the first beer you drank?

I don't really remember what my first beer was as the action was more memorable than the beer itself. I remember having my first Coopers Red from Dad though. That was a bit of a changing moment.

Is there a beer you secretly love but won't tell anyone about?
Sorry - no clandestine PBR addiction here. I'm a beer snob through and through. It's no secret, I treat myself, my dad or my best mate to Chimay Grand Reserve at special occasions. 

Why do you think Young Henry’s has struck such a cord with the local community?
I'm not really sure... We're inner westies making good, clean beer and I guess there are a few other inner westies who don't mind one or two from time to time.


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Meet Westerly Isbaih - Olive Oil Judge and Producer from Alto

By Kate Walsh

Meet Westerly from Alto Olives based in the foothills of Australia’s Great Dividing Range.
Best thing about being an olive oil judge?
I really love the taste of extra virgin olive oil so I’m so privileged to get to taste the best olive oils from around the country.

Biggest mistake that consumers make when buying olive oil? 

Thinking that because an olive oil is from Spain or Italy it is automatically better than an Australian olive oil. Not that there aren’t beautiful oils from overseas but a lot of what ends up on our shelves are not those oils.

One thing that we can do to change our food system?
Get more people back in the kitchen and less watching cooking shows. And I think it should be mandatory that all school age kids should spend time on a working farm.

What was your job before you discovered the joys of olive oil? 
I was an actor before I got into the food industry!

What will you be buying from the Christmas Market and from whom?
I think I will be buying some of the amazing products from the Commissary Kitchen by Rob Hodges. I’m really excited about the idea of the chef doing all the hard work cooking a terrine, duck confit or pate. A rich special treat that I don’t have to make!

  • RECIPE: Misto Olive Marinade

    This family recipe has been a favourite for many years.
  • Take 500g ALTO MISTO Olives, rinse and place in a serving bowl  

  • Add …
    2 – 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
    bruised 2 fresh bay leaves 
    torn 1 whole red banana chilli 
    sliced zest of 1 orange
    zest of half a lemon
    1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
    2 small cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
    juice of 1 orange
    50ml ALTO Chardonnay Vinegar
    50ml ALTO Lemon or Mandarin Oil
  • Mix well  
For best results, marinate in the fridge overnight and serve at room temperature.


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The reggae loving muesli makers Farmer Jo

By Kate Walsh


And this lovely lady is Sally from Farmer Jo. Waltz into their pocket sized kitchen in Surry Hills and you'll never want to leave  - or at least not leave empty handed. I credit Sally and Scott (or Scott from Scotland as he likes to introduce himself) for upping the ante on breakfast tables right across Sydney with their hand-made, seasonal muesli. They'll have a bunch of really delicious Christmas muesli blends at the market. Perfect gift for that really hard to buy for person. 

Granola or muesli?
When not eating bircher, it’s muesli for me. 

What is the best music to make muesli to?
You should join us for Reggae Friday in the kitchen! It is the only way to start the weekend. 

If there is one thing you could change about our food system, what would it be?
I really hate that we waste so much food. That's why we make to order in our kitchen.


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Matt and his marmalade glazed ham recipe

By Kate Walsh

And here is Matt Rothman from Hands Lane! 

What is the best thing you've eaten in the past week? 

Youngberries picked from my veggie patch with my sons. What a luxury. Home-grown organic berries.

Can you tell us the secret of your famous tomato chutney?

Fresh seasonal produce. I get all my tomatoes from Sam, a 74 year old tomato farmer just outside of Dural in Sydney's north west he grows his tomatoes with love, organically and sustainably, just as his Nonno taught him back in Naples.  

What is the best music to make chutney to?

I like a bit of rhythm when I'm stirring the pot so s bit late 70s Afro beat hits the spot someone like Fela Kuti 

  • Hands Lane Seville Orange Marmalade Glazed Xmas Ham

1 bone-in baked ham (4.5kg approx)

30 whole cloves

1 jar of Hands Lane Seville orange marmalade

1/4 cup Dijon mustard 


Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line a large baking pan with heavy-duty aluminium foil.
Place ham cut side down in centre of pan.

Trim any rind or excess fat from ham with a sharp knife.
Score outside of ham with a sharp knife in a decorative diamond pattern (as shown) and insert a whole clove into each diamond point.
Cover pan and ham with more heavy-duty aluminium foil. 
Bake ham for 1 1/2 hours.

Make glaze
Melt the Hands Lane Seville orange marmalade in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Whisk in Dijon mustard and 2Tbsp. water.
Bring mixture to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, until glaze thickens.
Set glaze aside.

Remove ham from oven and raise oven temperature to 220°C
Remove aluminum foil covering ham and brush warm glaze all over ham.
Return ham to oven and bake uncovered until glaze caramelizes, about 30 minutes.
Remove ham from oven, tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm, and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.


The Christmas Artisan Food Gift market is a collaboration between Sydney Living Museums and Real Food Projects. 

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Meet Kate from The Vegan Tea House!

By Kate Walsh

Meet Kate Jones from the The Vegan Tea House - one of the latest artisan producers taking Sydney by storm with beautiful teas, vegan brownies brownies, banana bread, pies, muesli bars, fruit and nut mixes, toasted granola and their practically world famous chocolate hazelnut spreads.

What is your favourite music to cook to?
Rufus’s new album makes me feel like I’ve just eaten a whizz fizz or a fruit tingle.

What was your job prior to this?
I was a quality analyst for a telco and slowly destroying my soul in the process. I was the only vegan in the village. True story.

Favourite moment in the last week?
Im a big believer of serendipity and this week I forgot to add flour to two big batches of brownies (god knows where my head was). What resulted are these gorgeous fudgey decadent brownies ...I can’t even talk about how amazing they are. They will be in my new range.

If there was one thing you could change about the food system, what would it be?
We need to change the idea that mass production with no thought for the well being of animals is normal. People need to ask and just not buy.

  • Raw Berry Cheesecake: Raw Vegan Gluten & Sugar Free!! 

You need
Base: 1 cup each soaked & rinsed raw walnuts & almonds (or whatever nut you like) 6 medjool dates

Cream filling: bottom layer 3 cups soaked & rinsed raw cashews 12 medjool dates ¾ cup coconut oil juice of two lemons

Top layer: a couple of handfuls of berries (or whatever you like!)

What to do
Base: In a food processor blend everything until its crumbly and then press into a cake tin
Cream filling: Bottom layer: In a high powered blender chuck everything in and blend until smooth and creamy and yum! Pop ¾ into the tin and smooth it out
Top layer: Add remaining ingredients and blend till smooth. Add on top of the bottom layer and smooth out then decorate! Chuck in the freezer for about an hour or two, and then put it into your face.


The Christmas Artisan Food Gift market is a collaboration between Sydney Living Museums and Real Food Projects. 

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