Tim Wimbourne had already had careers as a chef and photojournalist overseas when he purchased a property outside of Braidwood with his wife Meraiah Foley. They knew they wanted to do something with the land but couldn’t decide what kind of farmers they wanted to be.
After an audit by an ecologist from Land for Wildlife, they realised they already had several native mountain pepper plants growing on their property. The bush food is mostly farmed in Tasmania and Victoria, but they decided to cultivate an orchard. They had managed to grow about 500 plants when the whole lot was destroyed by the fires in late 2019.
Knowing the orchard would take several years to re-establish, the pair started thinking about what else they could do.
“While the fires were still burning, my wife said: ‘Buy that shop on Duncan street and start a kitchen’, and so we did,” Tim told Region.
Tim had already started to make and sell pasta as a way of sharing the native pepper flavours, but this new kitchen allowed him to do so on a more commercial scale.
Despite starting a business amid fires, floods and pandemics, Tim said the challenges ended up working in the couple’s favour as they grew from supplying four retailers to 20 within six months.
“COVID was actually really good for the business because it changed the way people ate, and people were interested in cooking at home,” he said.
Tim explains that the basic ingredients of his pasta are semolina flour and rainwater. The flour is sourced from a single family-run farm in South Australia. He took inspiration from master noodle makers in Japan who showcase their raw ingredients and end product in the window of their shop. He says that while the ingredients are as simple as you can get, focusing almost exclusively on one product allows him to drill down into the nuances to create a high-quality offering.
Tim also works with other local producers, such as Nanny G’s Garlic, Garlicious Grown Black Garlic, Prana Produce and Tilba Dairy.
“All the flavour ingredients come from the Braidwood region,” he said.
”We use Monaro purple garlic because that’s what the growers around here grow. We go through about 200 kilos a year!
“You just use what grows locally and that’s your limit. It’s a nice way to be, I like to work that way. We know all our suppliers on a first-name basis.”
Aside from the quality ingredients, another point of difference in Tim’s pasta is the method. His pasta is extruded through a handmade Italian brass ”die”, a plate that gives the pasta its form as the dough is pushed through the shape. Brass produces a rougher surface, which makes the pasta better able to hold the sauce. But Tim takes it one step further by treating his dies in a custom solution that adds even more texture to the surface.
The pasta is then dried at room temperature on wooden racks for up to 80 hours. The low and slow drying process preserves the flavour and nutrition of the pasta.
In addition to its range of pasta, Braidwood Food Company makes flatbreads flavoured with local ingredients, including Tim and Meraiah’s own mountain pepper. Tim has also started to run occasional half-day classes where participants can make pasta and share a meal accompanied by local wines.
Tim works from an open kitchen and welcomes customers to come in, have a chat and see how he makes his pasta.
“There’s a real demand and interest from customers to connect with the people who are producing their food,” he said.
Braidwood Food Company is at 71 Duncan Street, Braidwood.
It is open from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
Visit the website to find a stockist, or follow the business on Facebook or Instagram.
Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on About Regional.