What a year it has been! After a long hiatus due to COVID-19, it now seems like the right time to bring you the second chapter of our Meet the Maker series, where you get the chance to learn more about our carefully curated brands.
Today we sit down with the lovely Christine Fishwick for a chat about her family business, The Pickled Wife.
Small Batch: We love a good origin story! Tell us how The Pickled Wife began.
Christine: I guess all things Pickled Wife began one lazy Sunday afternoon sitting on the deck of our friend's winery, who had friends visiting from Perth. I'd prepared an assortment of grazing boards full of local fare along with some of my condiments for everyone to share, along with our our friend’s beautiful Chardonnay. Our condiments were a big hit and the Perth crew were keen on purchasing some to take with them, but at that stage I was only preserving for our own family and to give to friends. So by the end of our Sunday gathering, everyone had convinced me to start producing some of my family's traditional recipes and inspired infusions to sell. Now, I'm not sure if it was the 3rd glass of Chardy that convinced me, or everyone's genuine love of my condiments...I like to think it was the latter.
Small Batch: Please tell us more about how you chose the name. It often gets a giggle when we show your products to our corporate customers.
Christine: The Pickled Wife continues to amuse and people genuinely love the business name, which has the exact outcome we were chasing when creating our business name: to capture the consumers interest. The name came about on the same day the whole business concept was born after those Chardonnays. My husband John, who has a wonderful dry sense of humour, came up with the name and we all loved it. We wanted a business brand that people would remember, one that would reflect what we produced but also one that stood out! Plus we love a good laugh, so it seemed like the perfect name, a play on words. The food industry is such a competitive market and having the edge in the food game can be the difference in product sales and brand recognition. Never underestimate the value of good branding.
Small Batch: Did you grow up in Manjimup? Has it always been the foodie mecca it is now?
Christine: I grew up in the coastal town of Albany in the great southern region, the second youngest of five children and strongly influenced by parents who loved to grow their own vegetables with roaming chickens and weekends spent fishing along the bountiful Albany coastline. Moving to Manjimup 30 years ago, the main agricultural food industries back then were orchards, vegetables, viticulture and farming beef and lamb. Manjimup was known as a rich farming region but never really referred to as a foodies mecca. However fast forward to the present day, with many of those industries expanding to meet increasing demand for the beautiful produce being grown in the Southern Forest region and a huge focus on a more diverse growing industry producing world class crops of avocados, truffles, marron, green tea, saffron, honey and more unusual fruits and vegetables. The region is now the second largest food bowl in the Southern hemisphere with world class food events like the Truffle Kerfuffle which celebrates our aromatic truffles and are rated as some of the best in the world today. Our region has become one of Australia's foodie meccas and highly valued as a rich and bountiful area to visit for those seeking out quality produce and scenic weekends away.
Small Batch: What is your favourite thing about having a small business?
Christine: To mention one favourite thing is tricky..I have so many but definitely having creative control of what I produce and how we navigate our small business from home on a daily basis. I love the characters we meet along the way and doing business with like minded people is really important to me. The friendships I've forged with our local growers are invaluable, ensuring I'm accessing quality produce that enables me to create beautiful condiments that our customers can savour. That in itself gives me a real buzz knowing people are loving what I do and that's what it's all about..producing food memories that people love to share with family and friends is such a satisfying feeling.
Small Batch: How do you source the raw ingredients for your products?
Christine: Sourcing produce is easy when we live in such a rich and diverse growing region, I'm very fortunate that I can visit our growers directly, ensuring I'm purchasing the freshest quality local produce when in season. However, when the growing season is coming to a close, we've also the luxury of tapping into tunnel grown produce which has a longer growing period and enabling me to preserve seasonal produce for longer. Being an avant gardener, we grow all of our own organic Garlic, Limes and some of our herbs like Coriander and Bay Leaf. Being able to step outside your backdoor and pick your own produce is very satisfying.
Small Batch: Why do you think buying local is gaining so much traction in Australia?
Christine: I honestly believe that people are tired of the 'quick fix' and they want to support our Australian growers and value added products to ensure we keep growing a strong and vibrant industry locally. We have some of the best produce in the world, it just makes sense to me that consumers would crave for more local when it comes to their food choices as a whole. Supporting their communities and helping create a more ethical and sustainable food industry by buying locally grown produce and products that have less travel miles, with more of the profits going back to the growers and other producers, just seems logical to me. Plus local foods have a shorter time frame between harvest and your table retaining more nutritional value and the joy of experiencing the whole process of visiting regions and immersing yourself into the farm visit/stay experience first hand has created a beautiful slow living movement especially with our city counterparts. And that's why I believe our gourmet products resonate with so many folks as they can take home a small batch food memory from their weekends getaway that's filled with good wholesome produce, crafted by a local with a genuine local food story.
Christine: Your Dukkah has a bit of a cult following amongst our customers. What's the secret to a kick-ass Dukkah?
A. Kick-ass!! Love it and to be honest, it comes as no surprise to us that your customers love what already know to be an awesome product..thanks everyone. The secret lies in all of our spices, seeds and dried herbs being lightly toasted which adds a nice crunch and brings out those aromatic flavours. Plus I think we've found the perfect blend of all of those ingredients and techniques which has produced that kick-ass taste everyone loves to experience.
We are so proud to choose Australian-made brands like The Pickled Wife in our gifts!