I had a moment this week when I walked into my local Woolworths. There, next to the Krispy Kreme’s (it didn’t go amiss that they are an international iconic brand) was our product. A wave of pride came over me and the best news is, our label can now be found in Woolworths stores across Sydney, alongside many other small grocers, delis and butchers who have supported us for over 20 years.
It was in our household kitchen, more specifically on Copeland Street in Alexandria, where the idea for the Bitton product range was born following a weekend away in the Southern Highlands and a visit to a quaint little store called “That Little Jam Shop”. This planted the seed for a coffee shop that ranged home cooked jams and chutneys and a menu built around them. Sohani and I have fond memories of huge pots of jam bubbling away in our kitchen, the smell of the spices and splodges found on the ceiling the following day. We cooked, cooled, bottled and labelled in the living room and walked them down the road to fill the shelves of our little coffee shop that is now Bitton Alexandria.
Its amazing that the same product that filled those hand labelled jars, is what you will find on the supermarket shelves.
It struck me that each of those little red labels has a big story behind it. They didn’t just ‘appear’ they were all born from a memory or an experience. After all, that’s what good food creates. We thought, as we reflect on the pallets of product being shipped out to the community weekly, we would share some of those stories with you.
Where it all began - Strawberry and Vanilla Jam
That story you have heard told is true. The recipe for this jam was a gift from David’s grandmother. Its jam done the traditional way – simply fruit and sugar, with the added flavour of fresh vanilla bean. This recipe has never changed, including the piece of whole vanilla pod that you will find in every jar.
Monkey Nut Chutney
Funny name, unique flavours. Its no wonder that this product landed itself on Rove’s “What The??” section of his Rove live show? Monkey nuts is the South African slang term for peanuts and this herbaceous, spicy, nutty ‘chutney’ is a take on something similar served by Sohani’s family in Durban.
Even as a chef, I hadn’t eaten chilli let alone cooked with it before I came to Australia. The fact that it has crept into so many of our products is the heavy influence of the best cooks I know – my in laws. This Chilli Oil is the only product from my range that I consistently have in my home pantry. Safe to say it goes on everything.
Black Olive Tapenade
Born from a visit to Provence, this tapenade is all about texture in the mouth. Its chunky and the addition of fresh Provincial herbs takes it to the next level. This product came full circle when it was called “the best tapenade outside of France” by Helen Greenwood from the Sydney Morning Herald magazine.
Chilli Garlic Masala
Should honestly carry a warning sign – for being addictive! This product again is a nod to my wife Sohani’s South African Indian heritage. So often hot pastes are just that, with not much flavour. This paste is different – packed full of all the flavours of your favourite spices and a big kick of chilli!
It’ crazy to me – a Frenchman making an Asian sauce! This recipe was born out of frustration of needing 5 different sauces and several ingredients to make a good stir fry. To me it was simple, put it all together, infuse them together and bottle it! Voila! This is Biton Asain Dressing.
Next time you see our product sitting on the shelf of your local store or supermarket, remember that there is a family, a small business and a story behind it and that no matter what, we will never compromise on the quality of these products or forget where they came from.