Thursday, 7 August 2014

Leisa and her Brilliant Food

Brilliant Food, brilliant product, brilliant name!  What was it in particular about seafood that not only initially drew you to specialising in it but then to on share this passion with the public at large

Ocean trout was part of a signature dish at a restaurant I worked in.  I loved working with the product and learned my smoking craft from some Indian chefs in my apprenticeship in the mid '90's.

I just found that the superior qualities of ocean trout, combined with my smoking technique delivered a brilliant result!

Anytime I made this fish, the enjoyment of my friends had eating it was incredible, until one day one of my mates suggested off the cuff that I should sell it!

To get that first award (and then continue to garner more over time) must have been an amazing feeling and the ultimate positive reinforcement as to your chosen profession.  How hard is it to source your produce and what are the do's and don't's when purchasing good quality fish

The First award was a Bronze at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.  We've obviously improved over the years and now we achieve Champion, Gold and Silver Awards.

There are intangibles outside my control that can impact the results we get.  For example, the seasonality of the fish, the moods and taste buds of the judges and the competition we face. 

The true judges of all of this are the customers who come back regularly and who have been doing so for years.

My motivation is producing a consistently superior product for our customers: we are judged every time we put our product in the market place - a grower's market, in our stockists' outlets and through direct sales.  

I will always source the best quality ingredients available: it just makes the whole process that much more successful. Working with poor quality produce is not going to deliver the product that I want everyone to enjoy.  We only use Australian seafood, and the majority of our fresh ingredients are all Australian, and we don't use preservatives in our products.  

Much of our produce is farmed fish, so as long as farming conditions are good, supply is good.  We do have purchasing specifications with our suppliers which relate to the age of the fish from harvest, temperature of the fish received and how the fish is stored. We also request that our fish is filleted in dry conditions (a dry fillet in preparation).  The texture of the flesh is really important and we know when something is not right that might be caused by age, temperature or water contact.

Tips for customers when buying fish from retail fishmongers: seafood should have a fresh clean smell; surface should be dry; if buying a whole fish, the gills should be red and the eyes should be clear.  If I was a customer, I'd be looking for overall damage......

You also have some ridiculously delicious accompaniments which are seriously popular with market shoppers.  How long does it take for you to go from concept to final product and then have it not only produced but more importantly maintained to its original standard

Product development comes as a result of market awareness.  Two or three months would be a ballpark figure.  It takes time to perfect a recipe and undertake quality and shelf life testing before a product is released.

Shelf life testing alone takes a minimum of a month.  If the planets are lined up, then preparation is quick.  If not? Then it can be a time consuming and frustrating process. Luckily I have great staff in the factory who know their job and understand the importance of having things just right.

What is it about market life that plays an important role in the world of Brilliant Food and why (in your opinion) do they (eg: markets such as Orange Grove) play such an important role within the local community

Markets are essential: Brilliant Food started in grower's markets.  We are face-to-face with our customer every weekend, hearing all types of feedback.  It keeps us real. Very often we could have an ongoing over four weeks with a customer!

At the grower's markets, because we are so close to our customers, we can feel their needs and wants which is our platform in deciding which products we make.  It's also our platform to release a new product an d get feedback.

Our latest product (Smoked Barramundi & Sweet Chilli Dip) is doing that right now! Released about four weeks ago, we've actually adjusted the method in response to our observations and customer feedback.

Grower's Markets like Orange Grove, provide a meeting place for growers' and producers to stay in touch with consumers.  they're a great outdoor event (weather permitting!) and in the modern world, we need to protect these outdoor gathering events to keep us in touch with reality and away from our digital mod cons.....human contact is the key to our personal survival.

These markets are a sanctuary in many ways: they deliver a range of benefits.

How would you sum up the world of Brilliant Food in 5 words

Brilliant Food for brilliant people....brilliant is a good word!


Lucky us!  We have Leisa's amazing produce at market each week, which tastes as good as it looks, so for all you foodies out there in blog land our advice to you is get to Orange Grove Market each Saturday, sample what's on offer, check out the accompaniments also on show and then buy up big!  Remember: support local, buy's really the only way to go!

ps: gotta luv when a chef gives buying tips too!

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