It’s been almost six months since I first put on my apron and started serving our amazing customers, but I still remember the whirlwind of my first days. Everything was new. The products, the people, the cash register, even some sayings and words. For the first weeks, my head was buzzing with all the new information.
Now, all that comes naturally. I can estimate how many slices 200 grams of ham is, put together a tasty grazing platter for ten or sixty people and I know what it means when someone asks for "olives without the pips". I’ve learned a lot. And to celebrate my last day at Bill’s farm, I decided to write a short summary of the best bits!
The art of cutting and wrapping cheese!
This is definitely the most tangible skill I’ve acquired. To be honest, I never thought, how much work goes into getting those neatly wrapped cheese pieces into our display cabinets. You don’t simply cut and wrap. Every cheese needs to be handled a bit differently: cut the Parmigiano Reggiano too cold and you will end up with a mess of chunks and crumbles; leave the Delice de Bourgogne unwrapped for too long and you will end up with a puddle of its' oozy interior. And most importantly the wrap should be neat/perfect on at least 4 of the five sides and pulled tight to keep the cheese fresh - but not too tight in case you squish the cheese!
Know what type of produce Australians love!
A good ol’ sharp cheddar, an oozy double cream brie, free-range ham, double smoked bacon, green Sicilian olives, fresh ricotta, spicy hummus….. It’s been fascinating to observe how the diverse cultural history of Australia has shaped the taste preferences of our customers. European influences are the most dominant with French, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Spanish and British cheese and meats but throw in some Middle Eastern hummus, South African harissa, Iranian saffron, American pickles, Japanese wasabi mayonnaise and Mexican chipotle chilli’s in adobo and you have a complete product mix from every corner of the world.
Local or imported?
In addition to observing how the diversity of cultural influences has affected the taste preferences, it’s been interesting to see (and taste!) the variety of local and imported delicacies we have on offer. Due to Australia’s rather strict regulations, many European goods can’t be imported here and the Australian produce must be done in a specific way. For example, raw milk cheeses are almost completely banned here, which limits the taste notes a cheese can develop. However, I feel that right now it’s a very exciting time for food producers in Australia. The demand for unique, local products is on the rise and based on what I’ve tasted, there is an incredibly wide range of delicious food produced right here in Australia. In fact we support over 50 family-owned Australian producers with the majority being in Victoria.
The community feeling
During the past six months I’ve also gotten to know so many great people and become part of the wonderful community of traders and customers who come together every day at the iconic Queen Victoria Market. I’ve been able to work with the best colleagues and serve the loveliest customers. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you all and I’m truly grateful that my first workplace in Australia was at Bill’s Farm. See you around!
P.S. If anyone is considering leaving your full time job and moving to the other side of the world to work with food – just do it!