Buy local! – it’s a mantra we often hear, so we sat down with some of the city’s top local food producers to see what all the fuss is about.
From established factories to fledgling businesses that are already negotiating the export of their products to overseas markets, the Gold Coast is home to a growing number of unique food producers.
Join us as we meet some of the city’s artisan producers; the people behind the products we can buy from supermarket shelves, restaurants, suppliers, and an array of shopfronts.
Antony van der Drift’s family is “sausage royalty” according to hatted chef Peter Stubbs of Cinco Bistro, Camp Hill.
Antony, who owns Gotzinger Smallgoods with his wife Lisbeth, left school to work in his father factory: Hans Smallgoods.
“Dad was a pastry chef by trade,” says Antony.
“When he emigrated to Australia in 1956, he opened a shop. He started making traditional meat loaves rolled in breadcrumbs for his customers. As demand grew, he branched out into sausages and other products. Hans Smallgoods had begun.”
Making sausages proved to be a career that Antony fell in love with; one which took him overseas to Austria to learn more about the trade.
On his return to Australia, with the family business sold during his absence, Antony left the industry for a while before deciding to purchase a smallgoods business of his own.
Antony and his wife bought Gotzinger in October 2000, bringing passion and Antony’s own heritage into a century-old company.
Under the motto Australian crafted, European heritage, Gotzinger crafts a wide range of traditional products from the finest cuts of meat, such as kransky (awarded best sausage 2015 by Queensland Taste), German bratwurst, Spanish chorizo, cabana, cheese kransky and black pudding.
“Every sausage is different,” Lisbeth tells More Gold Coast. “It has its own spices; its own recipe.”
“Our sausages are gluten free, all made with real meat, naturally wood-smoked with no added colouring and minimal preservatives. In the end though, it’s what the person does with the sausage that makes them special.”
The couple has expanded the company, opening the James Street Deli before moving the whole business from Burleigh to Yatala in 2003.
Since the move, it has improved packaging, streamlined sizing, and started marketing to a wider audience of retail stores, hotels and restaurants than ever before. The business has grown from a team of 14 to 85.
Most of all, however, they take real pride in their products, with craftsmanship and technique being second nature.
“We employ a Swiss master butcher,” says Antony. “He’s part of a great team.”
“There’s a lot of passion in the people in the factory. We’re all extremely proud of the product we put out. We’re presently relabelling, and are negotiating export to the United Arab Emirates.”
Now employing the third generation of the van der Drift family in the business, Antony says his father still comes in from time to time, always repeating the same line: ‘Never forget the quality’. It’s the mantra of success.
Gotzinger products are available at Woolworths nationally, Coles (Queensland), IGA, Costco, at independent delicatessens and at the company’s own deli.
Almost everyone has a bottle of tomato sauce in their pantry, however it is one of the products highest on the list of hidden sugar culprits.
Yet it’s a product we pick off the shelf without a thought. We equate tomatoes to health, when in fact if you turn the bottle over and read the label tomato sauce contains not only tomatoes, but also sugar, salt, food acid, water, onion powder, and spice extract.
Besides the salt content being very high, sugar commonly comprises around 30 per cent of the product (30g per 100g), with BBQ sauce containing 12–15 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons of the product.
Meanwhile, a cup of pasta sauce hides six teaspoons of sugar. Even ‘sugar free’ pasta sauces contain Natvia, rice malt syrup, Rapadura, chopped dates, or honey.
So we are delighted to find a local producer that is offering a range of sauces using whole foods and no added sugar of any kind.
Vanessa and Paul Chapman began developing their range of sauces in early 2014 using a vintage recipe from Vanessa’s grandmother, Oksana.
“Oksana emigrated from Poland after World War II and settled in Australia in the late 1940s,” Vanessa tells More Gold Coast. “She was really special in my life and I see this business as my way of honouring her memory. It’s also her gift of health to you.”
Vanessa uses Oksana’s traditional method of preserving whole Granny Smith apples as sweeteners to make a range of pasta sauces, tomato and BBQ sauces, salsas and chutneys.
No sugar, artificial preservatives, additives or chemicals, thickeners, citric acid or even water is used.
Instead, Oksana’s tomato sauce ingredients are: fresh tomato, onion, apple, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Whole food. No hidden extras, and Oksana’s sauces taste so good.
September 2016 sees big changes for Oksana’s Kitchen, with its expansion to full factory production in a Molendinar premises. It is also negotiating export to China.
“We just want to provide real food for everyday people, especially for those who are time poor,” says Vanessa. “We want to make sure that people eat well.”
Eating well, including avoiding excess sugar is a concern that all Australians should share. Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes and one more Australian develops diabetes every five minutes. The total cost of diabetes in Australia has been estimated at $14.6 billion annually.
Oksana’s sauces are available from the Paleo Café Burleigh Heads, Hollywell Market and selected IGA stores, or you can order online from Oksana’s Kitchen’s website.
First Fruits Specialty Coffee
Sometimes location isn’t the most important factor in success. It’s the quality of product which draws customers, along with the passion of the producer.
Daniel Smith, the co-owner of First Fruits Coffee, became fascinated by coffee while in the army’s infantry. After injuring his back, he moved into the battalion’s café and was fascinated by the complexity of coffee. Discharged from duties, he started off as a barista but always wanted to do roasting.
“I saw a documentary about coffee growers and believed that I could help these people,” he tells More Gold Coast, commenting on the inequity of the coffee bean trade.
Daniel began his business using someone else’s roaster. He started with a lot of contract roasting, investing $2,000 to start the business with the purchase of his own five kilogram Probat Generation 1 roaster off Gumtree.
“I have a group of green bean suppliers that I trust to ethically source their beans from farmers,” he says.
“They send me samples, I cup and taste and then choose which beans to buy, but eventually I’d like to go to the countries of origin and buy direct.”
Mid-2016, Daniel and business partner Ben Taylor set up their roaster/espresso bar in a small shop behind Pizza hut in Ashmore.
Selling a light to medium blend as the daily coffee as well as a single origin (‘Supersonic’ from El Salvador, when we visited), we ask Dan how coffee tastes have changed over the past few years.
“As much as I’d like to give people a massive fruit bomb in flavour, many people want coffee chocolatey and full-bodied, roasted to just before second crack,” he says. “I’ll always sell more of that coffee than anything else.”
“We’re continually trying to make what we do better. We can roast lighter to taste fruit, full bodied with a buttery mouth feel, brown sugar with stone fruit sweetness, chocolate and rosewater or cherry and cacao. It’s absolutely amazing how far beans have come in the past ten years.
He adds that blends used to have a bad name because they were blended to mask imperfections.
“Now we blend two coffees which are single origin and strong in their own right, ending up with a better product than the originals,” he says.
“Our point of difference is that we make coffee like we want to drink it from a café. It’s all about making coffee of high quality drinkability, roasting in the store with as little impact on the bean as possible.”
Looking back on how his business started, Daniel says the entire experience was a time of waiting, not knowing what would happen next. But through it all, he’s thankful, hence his company name ‘First Fruits’ – giving back the first fruit of the harvest to his maker.
“As my time in the army finished, it began a rollercoaster experience which is still going,” says Daniel. “So many people have helped along the way. Too many to name. There’s a real camaraderie in the industry.”
Lamham – ham made from lamb – is a superlative new product from Gold Coast-born Maree King and her husband Andrew.
In a twist on The Farmer Wants a Wife, Maree met Andrew, a fourth generation Merino farmer from Longreach, at a B&S Ball (bachelors and spinsters) while she was on country service as a young home economics teacher.
Love meant that Maree joined Andrew on his family property ‘Westfield’, a move which brought a new skill set to farming life, leading to innovation.
The couple began organic farming fifteen years ago with 100 per cent grass fed Dorper sheep, later branching out into a ‘paddock to plate’ business – Silverwood Organics.
Thinking outside the box, they delivered their organic lamb to the customer’s door, winning numerous awards including Queensland Sheep Meat Producers of the Year in 2010 and 2013.
Four years ago, as a point of difference, Maree developed Lamham as a unique specialty Christmas and Easter option for their online customers.
It was part of an overall strategy of innovation that saw them recognised as Queensland Sheepmeat Producers of the Year in 2013 with the prize, a trip to Dubai to the Gulf Food Trade Show, being a turning point for their business.
“The trade show in Dubai really opened our eyes to possible markets for our product,” Maree tells us.
“Lamham is Halal accredited and negotiations are presently underway for us to export to The United Arab Emirates.”
With years of drought, meaning a move from the farm to the Gold Coast, the dawn of success for their product could not have come at a better time.
Manufactured under contract by Lago Smallgoods in Melbourne, Lamham is a gourmet niche product in a similar price range to Serrano ham and prosciutto. Naturally gluten-free, it is suitable for a large clientele base.
Although only launched in September 2015, Lamham has already won silver and bronze medals at the RASV Australian Food Awards 2016. From our tasting, no product has impressed us so much in a long time for its flavour and texture.
Naturally wood smoked with beechwood and rosemary, Lamham has a soft buttery texture similar to prosciutto and a mild flavour, a slight smokiness lingering on the palate.
It would make the perfect topping for pizza or bruschetta, to be used on canapés and gourmet sandwiches or as an accompaniment to scrambled eggs. Bought as a leg, Lamham glazes perfectly; a delicious Aussie substitute for a Christmas ham.
Lamham is available at Ferry Road Markets.
Cocoluscious Ice Cream
CocoLuscious – the name says it all.
Coconut milk based, this fully organic dairy-free ice cream is simply luscious! It’s the ice cream of choice of some of our top Queensland chefs as the accompaniment to fine desserts, but equally delicious on its own, its raw natural goodness a rich delicious treat.
The story of CocoLuscious’ origins is one of serendipity, and one inspiring woman’s clear vision, unerring passion, unstoppable drive, and her insistence on the highest standards. Swami Hennessy-Mitchell, the company’s founder and owner, already ran a successful raw chocolate business, Rawganic, when she realised the market opportunity for a natural plant-based ice cream.
“I sat down to a tub of my favourite soy ice cream, turned it around to read the ingredients and was horrified,” she says.
“There were 19 ingredients listed on the back. Surely, there must be a healthier option?”
Looking around for another suitable non-diary high fat ice cream base, she decided on coconut. Coconut fat is vegan, gluten-free, and full of high medium chain triglycerides which speed up the metabolism, raise resistance and help the liver burn fat.
Driven by her own belief in natural products and healthy vegan foods, Swami began experimenting making coconut ice cream without dairy, eggs or nuts, and with no artificial additives, colours, flavours or preservatives.
A year later, the brand CocoLuscious was launched. CocoLuscious now employs eight staff and boasts a range of 16 flavours, all certified organic, vegan and kosher.
Backa Gourmet Foods
We first came across Bačka Gourmet Foods at the Carrara Markets. Venturing inside, it was hard not to miss their stall; it’s stacked full of European smallgoods – all gluten-free, preservative and additive free, and the smoky aromas drifting out into the market capture attention.
We asked owner Richard Krstin about how he got into the smoking and curing business.
“I grew up with this food in Melbourne,” Richard says.
“My mother had the first olive stall in the Queen Victoria Markets 30 years ago, and my father worked at Don Smallgoods.
“I’m of Yugoslav heritage, but I was born in Melbourne, surrounded by this food. We make all our products here from the old recipes, such as paté only using fresh chicken liver; White Hungarian sausage from beef, pork, natural brown sugar and Bundy rum (the now not-so-secret ingredient), just like it’s always been made.”
Backa’s shop is an Eastern European gourmand’s delight: traditional liverwurst, salami, speck, jars of Marco Polo vegetables and relishes, homemade sauerkraut, Thomy mayo, salty cheeses and rose hip jam – food whose origin stretches from Yugoslavia to Russia. Hams and racks of sausages, ageing salami, and ribs, 100kg per rack, hang somberly in shadow, installation art reminders of lives at pasture. A vegetarian’s nightmare!
“We use all natural wood smoking in this smokehouse with no artificial heat treatment,” Richard tells me. It’s fantastic to see artisan sausages and hams made in the traditional way without additives and preservatives.
Backa has established a loyal clientele who buy their products at markets on the Gold Coast (Carrara, Marina Mirage and Sharks) and in Brisbane (Chandler, Ascot, Rocklea, Nundah etc.). Now, Backa’s has expanded to the Gold Coast with a large warehouse at 18/231 Brisbane Road, Labrador.
White Gold Creamery
A day trip to show their children where milk came from was to change Michael and Bronwyn Lind’s careers. Both chemists, the couple recently set up White Gold Creamery producing artisan cheese and dairy products.
“We got into a conversation with the dairy farmer about the deregulation of the dairy industry and the difficulties that smaller farmers were facing,” Michael tells us, on our visit to the creamery.
“It costs some farmers more to produce the milk than they get back from selling it. We realised that unless farmers could earn a reasonable income from their land, these farms would be lost, and there would not be any more small family-run farms to show our children or our children’s children. At the time, Bronwyn started making cheese as a hobby and it slowly dawned on us that this would be a possible future enterprise.”
In 2014 the couple put their life savings into their new venture, constructing a commercial premises from scratch, their first production being in April 2015.
“We source all our milk at a fair price from one dairy farm, Mt Tommerrup, owned by a family who are sixth generation dairy farmers, in the Lost World. They follow organic principles on the farm with no antibiotics used.”
White Gold Creamery now make a range of seven products: cheeses that range from fetta to a Welsh-style crumbly cheddar, culture butter and buttermilk.
Instead of producing a product aimed at standardisation of flavour, small batch makers gain individuality and distinct rich flavours through traceable provenance, the products changing as milk properties change with seasonal pastures. Tasting the Young Myrtle, coated with bush flavours and veined with pepper, the flavour rich and creamy.
“Our cheese is made from “White Gold” – the precious, local milk sourced from a multi-generational family of dairy farmers,” he says, when asked about the reasoning behind the name of the business.
“Creamery – we’re far too small to be a factory. This is an artisan, sometimes even handmade Gold Coast cheese.”
The Grainge Homemade Jams
The first taste of The Grainge raspberry jam is an epiphany of flavour; an intense burst of fruit which speaks of impeccable produce.
Paul Grainger’s childhood in Christchurch, surrounded by berry farms, led him to see an opening in the Australian market: the need for a decent jam.
“There were no gourmet jams then,” he says.
“The boysenberry jam was tasteless and had no smell. No one was making a decent jam. So I decided to kick it off.
“I started making jam using berries from Jane Harrow [berry grower] in Christchurch. Things in NZ changed, though. Now it’s all citrus and wine, with berries harder to source.
“Unfortunately, Australian berries don’t have the intensity we need. I remembered something Jane had told me: ‘Berries grow at certain latitudes on both ends of the earth’, so now I source berries from Europe – Belgium and the Eastern Block. They’re exceptional quality because of the climate; the best berries in the world.”
“The berries come in frozen and the jam is cooked from frozen berries. We try to get the jam as consistent as possible, but jam’s a funny thing – each batch is different. Berry jam takes about an hour and a half to cook. Marmalade is more laborious. After soaking the fruit overnight, it’s a four hour process. All our citrus is sourced locally.”
There are four preserves in The Grainge Jams range: raspberry, boysenberry, three fruit marmalade, and the mixed berry jam. Each bottle contains only three ingredients: fruit, sugar and citrus pectin; no artificial colours or flavours, setting agents or preservatives.
Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast.