It is called Carole RufaI met her last fall in Australia and I had a real crush on this generous woman who makes jams, chutneys and a whole bunch of other absolutely delicious and incredible things. She’s based in New South Wales, I show you on a map where that is.
Not the next door, right?
I wanted to introduce her to you and have her tell us about her job. In the end, even though we live on the other side of the world, we’re a lot alike 😉
Carole, you and your husband Ian make incredibly good preserves, jams and chutneys here, can you tell us how it all started?
I have always been interested in food. I think you could say that this passion runs in my veins. My father was a grocery wholesaler in England where I was born and my mother was a good cook. We grew our own fruit and vegetables and my mother made jams and preserves.
But it was after a stay in France as an au pair that I became passionate about cooking.
What is your background?
I first worked in the wine industry and then in the restaurant business. After that, I wanted to share and pass on my knowledge and so I wrote several recipe books: The first was entirely devoted to tomatoes and the second to potatoes. As for the third one, Fusion – The Watermark Cookbook, it is the one I am most proud of. I made it with Kenneth Leung, a Chinese from Hong Kong who has practiced a lot of French cuisine.
We spent many hours together talking about food, recipes and ingredients. Then I cleaned up and tested everything at home. My daughter Nicola loved the time we spent tasting and writing the recipes. We were sad when it ended.
Why did you decide to focus on canning?
We have a beautiful terroir here on the south coast and food grows in abundance. As I hate to waste, I have found that making preserves is a good way to keep the fruits and vegetables in season.
How did you learn?
Working with great chefs for years. And also by reading and experimenting a lot.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I find it through markets, seasonal products, recipe books and cooking magazines! I love creating new combinations of flavours and testing new products. One of my favorite books is Christine Ferber on jams. It has incredible blends and its method of preparing jams gives the best results. We use her method for all our preserves
In France we don’t have a lot of chutneys and relish, it’s even a bit difficult for us to understand the difference between the two. Can you explain it to us?
In a chutney there are more pieces (small pieces of vegetables for example) while a relish is softer, more spreadable.
How many different products do you sell here in your store?
About a hundred each year. Many of our customers come to us with a basket of fruits or vegetables such as tamarillos, blood oranges or Feijoa, a New Zealand fruit whose taste varies between pineapple, peach and kiwi.
As soon as we have at least 2 kg of a fruit we make something out of it. Our best sellers? An organic rhubarb jam, a strawberry jam and a beet and red wine relish. We have received many awards for these products. Everything is homemade, by hand.
To know a little more about Australians, can you tell me if they cook at home?
People are paying more and more attention to where their food comes from, and this trend is even affecting young people. There are many cooking shows on TV here and also more and more farmer’s markets across the country. All this is pushing people to cook more at home.
Do they all have lunch together?
You can find everything in Australia, from junk food lovers to health food enthusiasts. Because of our ethnic diversity, I would say that having a family meal is still a very important thing in Australia.
Would you say that there is a real interest in food in Australia.
Absolutely. And as I said earlier, the number of television programs on the subject (Australian and foreign) has generated new interest in the content of the plate. People are also very aware of the impact of food on health.
Thank you very much Carole.
In a few days, I will share one of his recipes with you!
South Coast Providores – 89 Queen St, Berry – New South Wales, Australia
Facebook Page: South Coast Providores
A website: South Coast Providores