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.