Artisan Files

Getting some artisan inspiration

I love being connected with true artisan food & beverage producers – people who specialise in their food-making craft and do not compromise on the quality of ingredients used nor the time-honoured techniques practiced. Whilst being an artisan sounds like a dream, working with nature to produce delicious food is very hard work and takes tremendous dedication to be able to balance the efforts taken with producing their products and the business aspect of it.

Let’s face it, nobody is born an Artisan. Although it may seem like some bakers must have been born with a rolling pin in their hands, cheese makers born with the knowledge to ferment milk into delectable solid mass, this is obviously not the case. Artisan craft is learnt and the traditional techniques can only work with a person’s conviction to practice the proper methods without compromise. Artisans, as opposed to industrial food manufacturers, work harmoniously with ingredients in their environments through the careful nurturing of nature and therefore the essential ingredient of time is strictly adhered to rather than manipulated.

Whilst traditional techniques are often passed on between generations, it is equally common for individuals to feel such strong inspiration for a particular craft that they pursue it as their calling in life.

Recently I was lucky enough to have an interview with Naomi Simson, ‘Red Shark’ on Network TEN’s Shark Tank, author of new book Ready To Soar, entrepreneur, blogger, innovator and passionate individual about how artisans and producers make their unique offering into a successful business without compromising the integrity of their craft.

Naomi, who herself is an avid supporter of Farmer’s Markets and Artisan producers commends people who live what they love and follow their passion. She sees the diversity in people’s choice of how they wish to run their business as perfectly related to their personal desires and beliefs. That for an Artisan to be completely proud of what they do, there needs to be an alignment between what they stand for and believe in – creating a business with a particular model is a powerful business choice!

Whilst writing this piece, I also had the fortune of interviewing a very dedicated artisan producer from the Artisan House directory with a focus on her drive, perhaps as a source of inspiration to others who have not yet turned their culinary passion and specialisation into a business.

Please meet Cheesemaker Corrine Blacket of Drysdale Cheeses and read her inspirational answers to my questions:

Q. Brief timeline to show how your “specialty” came about.

A. Bought our first milking goat in 2000. Registered with Dairy Food Safety Victoria in 2005. Those five years were spent making, experimenting and dreaming about becoming a commercial cheese maker.

Q. Biggest challenges you have faced?

A. Because we use milk that we produce on farm, keeping the herd alive and healthy during times of drought is always challenging. That and maintaining a consistent standard of cheese making

Q. What is your inspiration?

A. I was watching Gabriella Kervella in the 1980’s make amazing cheese from her herd of goats in WA. Her story really hit a chord with me. Now I look at my contemporaries and am constantly amazed by what is being achieved in the farmhouse dairy industry in Australia today. Holy Goat Cheese, in Victoria, is always an inspiration to me.

Q. What would be your advice to specialists starting up now?

A. What ever plant or land or anything that you are planning….DOUBLE IT, if you can. Make sure you have enough cash to pay the mortgage for the first twelve months, while you figure out what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Make sure you laugh a lot. That last bit probably won’t help your business but it will save your soul. Actually, it probably will help your business… The life of an artisan producer/farmer is tough. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous way to live but it is tough. The hours are long and animals will die and batches of cheese will fail. You genuinely have to love what you do. Don’t take your failures personally and don’t read your press when you succeed.

For those of you reading this article who have a brilliant Real Food idea, I recommend you take inspiration from the kind words of Corrine Blacket and definitely read Naomi Simson’s new book Ready to Soar for some valuable guidance on turning your dream into a reality.

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