What do a Blogger, a Videographer, a Photography fanatic (aka Instagrammer) and a tweet mad Spice Merchant have in common…well, over the last few weeks that would be me!
That’s right, we have some guests coming up and they’re all going to be in a Food Frenzy! Each of these exceptional persons all have a unique vision when it comes to food & their tastebuds. We’re spanning the globe with not one, nor two, or three, but four forms of digital technology, ‘hey, they don’t call it the World Wide Web for nothin!’
I think we all have a unique voice and for some it’s not blogging, it might be Photography, it might be Videography, (aka real food porn!) For some it might be an everyday ingredient you might happen to have in your pantry which some clever clogs thought of, (some time back) and now it’s part of your everyday dinner repertoire.
However you see it, each and every one of us has a great story to tell and with that, lets begin. We’ve already heard from Raymund at Ang Sarap. Followed recently by Hugo Alexandre Cruz on Videlicious.
Next we meet the founder of a new Australian start up, who took her food dreams from MasterChef, through to a retail concept and beyond with http://conjurup.com/
Firstly, who is Anna-Jane Dalton and what’s your background/heritage,
Australian born I grew up in Country NSW in a little but well known town called Gundagai. Blessed with loving parents who just adored my brother and me. I was a child who just loved everything put in my mouth! Say no more!
A love of food was clearly born in me. My grandmother came to live with us and I remember making baked custard with her when I was about 6 and I was always in there making the Christmas cakes and puddings. Mum and Gran were recipe cooks I was not. Whilst my brother played with chemical sets to create (and later becoming a doctor like dad,) I would make a mess in the kitchen.
I spent a lot of time on country properties staying with friends and seeing tasting and eating the freshest products available from paddock to plate. Mum had this wonderful area at the side of the house that was circular and paved in which you could sit. It was called the herb garden, it was a zen area and a sun trap. I learned to love lemon scented verbena, lavender, mint parsley and a myriad of other smells & tastes.
Going to boarding school in Sydney, I was always happy to be back in Gundagai. Our food at home was always incredibly simple but pure, non processed and the best quality. My nanna who lived in Sydney was a great cook and always said, “make the butcher and greengrocer your best friend,” never skimp on those things.
Mum was a great cook and would produce amazing food for dinner parties delights such as very dark chocolate mousse which seemed so sophisticated and exotic to me. I was lazy and not disciplined enough to use recipes. All my life I have been instinctual and if there was something I loved, I would absorb it like I was Einstein (but if not interested,) I just would ignore it.
I love food and have a voracious appetite for reading about it, watching programmes on it, eating it, and playing with it.
Next, what led you to discover your food journey?
Living on Santorini in Greece, I really started to enjoy the cooking side and it opened my mind to how amazing food from other cultures could be. Prior to living there (with the exception of my one friend at school who had an Italian father,) essentially it was purely English and French cuisine only, to which I had been exposed.
I remember her dad taking me to Puncinella which was the restaurant precursor to Buon Ricardo I was very young and there I discovered fresh squid ink pasta! PRIOR TO THIS RESTAURANT the only “Foreign” food I had tasted, would have been chinese at the local RSL.
When I lived in Greece I inhaled their food culture. When I met and married my first Husband who was Fijian I embraced the Indo-Fijian food culture, hence the dry fish curry and roti etc cooked for Masterchef audition. I would go into local restaurant kitchens and watch and join in.
In 2009, on a whim, I entered Masterchef for a bit of fun. In the initial audition I did a ceviche with a Polynesion twist. It was a hit and gave me the opportunity to cook in front of Gary, George and Matt. In the next round I decided to try something different, so I went with a dry curry and served it with a wonderful caraway seed and pomegranate raita and fresh roti. You can imagine my delight when the guys tasted it and all three gave an unequivocal ‘yes!’ to my dish. I was delighted!
They asked me where I’d got the recipe and how I had cooked it. I explained, that I had made it up and it had in fact, come from my laziness – I had cooked it in the oven! “Well,” they said, “it’s amazing. Can you do that sort of thing over and over?” and I said “yes!” And with that I was given my Masterchef apron. I had made it to the top 50 for Australia.
Matt later asked me if he could have the recipe, not once, but three times. Astonished and delighted that a renowned critic was asking for my recipe, I thought if he likes it and he wants the recipe then others would too.
So, since then I have created, tried and tested various recipe mixes on many and varied people. To date, everyone has loved them and that is what I want everyone to share!
What gave you the motivation to begin on that journey and which would you consider your first lucky break, (aka) the defining moment when you realised it was all coming together?
The Masterchef thing because everyone had always said I was a fabulous cook but I didn’t think anything I cooked was special. When Matt asked for the recipe I had made up I thought, I have lots of recipes that I could do something with.
Working as a BDM for an Architectural Organisation, starting up a Business to Business division and having a background in advertising and marketing, I guess I thought “if I can start up and grow businesses for others, why not for myself?”
How did Conjurup Food begin?
I travelled and researched and spent every moment I could on the net & in kitchens. Then there was a change at the company I was working with and I thought “now’s the time.”
We launched in March last year, have a look on the website. We launched with the four products we have and there are many others in the wings.
What’s the process in developing a product from the idea at the beginning, to the end finished product?
My goodness that is THE most challenging and interesting part. Its easy to think ahead but you need to be methodical. You need to plan and initially write a list of everything you think you will need.
You also need to be flexible and realise that the world is a huge and it’s a challenging path and if the timing is right and the stars are in alignment everything seems to just fall into place.
Remember its easy to be blinded by your own product listen to criticism and suggestions. Also, have a budget and stick to it.
People will be interested to know what it takes to develop a product from beginning to finish?
Reseacrch Research Research everything… The net is your friend!
Set a budget
Set a timeframe
Identify your market (make sure there is a market)
Look at requirements of your industry
Look at any potential competition
Look at price point
Test the product, tweak it
Choose great people to bounce off ideas and (if they have expertise you don’t,) ask them if they would mind if you picked their brains
Have a clear idea in your head of what you think you want
Source and choose reliable people to supply
Make the calls and be ready for rejection!
Above all don’t be afraid to ask people, if they cannot help with a particular component, do they know anybody who can?
Any hurdles when looking back that you’ve now recognized as valuable learning curves?
Innumerable! All valuable, from suppliers through to stockists.
And finally, where can our Australian readers find you and more on your products?
Anna Jane from Conjurup is kindly giving away some spices to five readers (within Australia.) The lucky winners can select two of the products (from the Conjurup website)
5 giveaways, x packs of two. (Within Australia only)
Just add your comment below to enter and don’t forget to say which 2 products you would like & why.
Disclaimer, this is not a sponsored post. Anna Jane is a contact through a close personal friend and our conversations have formed out of a mutual love & respect for food and has not come about through any monetary exchange. All product images are the property of Conjurup, Photography by John Turton www.johnturton.com