From humble beginnings, Simmone Logue has transformed her Fine Food Company into a household name and reflects on her journey as she prepares to celebrate her 20th anniversary.
Q. How did Simmone Logue Fine Food Company begin?
A. The idea to begin a wholesale cake business came when I recognised a niche in the market for home baked cakes and puddings to the restaurant and cafe industry. Most of the recipes were from my two grandmothers, who were both great cooks, and I developed these recipes in the kitchen of my small flat in Neutral Bay. I would then walk the cake box up the hill to the nearest cafes to sell my goods. They were well received and before long I moved into a small butcher shop in east Balmain, bought an oven, and cranked up my production.
Customers were then knocking on my door wanting to buy my cakes so I soon moved up to the main shopping strip in Balmain and opened my first retail store. It was a huge success and I found great benefits from both wholesaling out the back door and retailing through the front.
Fast forward 20 years and the company now turns over $10 million annually with 80 employees, all dedicated foodies. From our handmade cakes and pies, we moved into home meal therapy and subsequently corporate and private catering.
Q. What is a stand-out event that you’ve catered for?
A. The biggest and most challenging event I have catered for was the Tropfest film festival. There were 60,000 people at the event and we had exclusivity with the food. Like Tropfest, my brand was established in Sydney, so to be involved in such a locally driven event was what made it special for me – besides the joy people got from our beautiful food on the day.
Q. How have attitudes towards food changed in the past 20 years?
A. I have seen a huge change in attitudes to food, particularly in the past 10 years, with a big push away from fine dining. We are much more relaxed and we have such a diverse choice of quality food at more accessible prices.
Q. What is ‘fine food’ all about?
A. Fine food is about fresh seasonal flavours, unadulterated and not over embellished with unnecessary garnish. Fine dining can be overdone and fusion food is another style which I don’t subscribe to either. I am a purist and prefer a more classic approach.
Q. Tell us what you think about current food trends in Australia and where you see future trends going?
A. I see definite trends in Middle Eastern food. Lots of grains, nuts and fresh herbs. The humble pomegranate is enjoying a renaissance. I see people’s expectations of quality in food changing for the better. I believe programs on the television like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules are helping people find their confidence in the kitchen. It is encouraging the major supermarkets to strive to put a more artisan product on their shelves… you might even find a Simmone Logue chicken and leek pie at your nearest Woolworths!
Q. Do you have any plans to evolve the business further?
A. My dream is to take beautiful artisan product to places you would least expect to eat it. I also have a collection of recipes that are dear to me in the non-perishable sector which I would like to take to market. The market trusts my brand so a range of kitchenware and cooking utensils and home wares would be a good synergy and way to leverage off the brand.