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Smoked Food - Developing a Good Business Idea

Stored Naturally Gutsy Matters Podcast The Kind Sunscreen



This interview with Jeff Schultheiss about how he's combined his expertise as a food technologist, his love of smoking foods and smoke flavours with his determination to build his own business, is not only a fantastic introduction to a range of new products but also a great insight into what it takes to create a food product business.  

Was it the lure of smoke?  We'll never know!  But Jeff is certainly passionate about his products marketed under his business and brand - Darling Fresh Smoke Haus.  His range of vegetable and meat products are perfectly timed for the market for smoking foods.  

Not only is Jeff satisfying the food smoking trend he is also satisfying our desire for faster cooking foods and reduced meal prep time without compromising food quality.  His products are all natural, made with standard kitchen ingredients and prepared to heat and eat in ten minutes.  


Currently Jeff is offering 9 new smoked products, 7 meat and 2 vegetable, and did I say - all are ready to eat in ten minutes!  Typically we've associated fast food with poor quality, poor nutrition and poor flavour.  Not any more!  Darling Fresh Smoke Haus makes it possible for us to eat healthy, extremely flavoursome wholefoods fast!  


"...just being able to walk into the kitchen go, right, I'm going to have pulled pork burgers in 10 minutes and I've already got the rolls and I got salad. I got all this stuff and I'm just going to pop this thing in the microwave or headed up in hot water on the stove and it's done."  Jeff Schultheiss, Darling Fresh Smoke Haus 




Of course, Jeff doesn't give away his method of smoking foods or his cooking process but he does explain why he chooses different wood for different smoke flavors.  He chooses beechwood timber for it's superior smoke flavor in his products, while at home he often uses Iron Bark for the stronger flavors of smoke.  Smoking food at home is a booming food trend that's part of the American foods BBQ trend.  Jeff explains that the three critical factors for the cooking process in a smoker are time, temperature and degree of hot smoke (hot smoke prevents acrid smoke flavours).  


While there are many who like Jeff enjoy using outdoor and indoor meat smokers at home, Jeff explains, that there is far more to creating a consistent product that meets food regulations than selecting the perfect wood chips for smoke flavor you like.  Through his food technology experience he's created a new way of processing, smoking and packaging his products that manages the internal temperature of the products to meet food safety, and reduce the risk food products have.  Importantly temperature, has been a focal point in his innovative process for both food safety and superior smoke flavour. 


We hope you enjoy this interview and try something from the Darling Fresh Smoke Haus range.

Listen to another podcast episode


Welcome to Gutsy Matters podcast brought to you by stored naturally dot com. I'm Wendy Allen and I'm Helen Reynolds that's the matters podcast is for independent thinkers who aren't afraid to stand out from the crowd. Our conversations are with people who like us are willing to create something. They believe in something that helps us all to live more sustainably more consciously and with greater connection. We're delighted you're joining us to discover uncover and create opportunities and perspectives about health, wealth and sustainable living.


Helen:  Welcome back to the gutsy Matters podcast. Jeff Schultheiss. Jeff:  Hello,


Wendy:  hello, welcome.


Helen:  You've been here before talking about Upple, which was the whole Apple in a bottle drink brought that you helped the Savio family create. So now we're here to talk about your own product in your own business, Darling Fresh Smoke Haus.


Jeff:  Exactly. I've doubled down on gutsy. I think it matters. So yes, in the meantime, since we've launched that product and it's still going well in market behind the scenes, been developing my own range of products and yeah, we decided late last year to commercialize and go for it. And this year we've launched. So yeah, really exciting.


Helen:  That's great. I've gobbled up lots of your product. Thank you. You've been a great, great market tester, so I know that they're delicious and you know that I'm a big fan, but I actually don't know the backstory. How did you come to be smoking foods and bringing them to market?


Jeff:  Well, I've got a long history in the food industry as a food technologist background and I've been involved in food production for a long time. My father owned a food business up until a couple of years ago, which I sort of grew up in as it was and then professionally, later on I went out of the world and got some skills and went back and then worked for him professionally for, for a number of years before I moved up to Brisbane and uh Toowoomba. And so I've got a little bit of that sort of food production in my, in my blood, in my heritage and you know, I used to work there when I was a kid and my daughters are of an age where you know, I wouldn't mind if they wanted to come and work with work with me on school holidays and those sort of things. So I've always had a bit of a passion for food production, it's what I do professionally, but lately I've become a food consulting the last 2.5 years and that's that's hence the project with Upple. And uh and as I've been doing that, I've really been thinking gosh would be nice to start something up with my own at some point. And so a few years ago, a number of years ago now I bought a smoker and I think a lot of a lot of people smoking is smoking foods and meats is quite interesting these days and it's a growing trend. There's a lot more interest in it. There's a lot more smoking restaurants and venues popping up where they've got big smokers. And the American barbecue thing is really quite a trend. And so I was getting into that just on the weekends with friends cooking up for them. And I started working out, look, I think there's a way of commercializing these products to have ready in a retail format, pack format, they're the sort of foods that you pretty much have to eat as they're cooked. And so I wanted to give people options to have that in their fridge and get ready to reheat, need in 10 minutes just to get that style and quality of product but very conveniently at home. And so as I sort of moved through that and did some R. And D. And some testing and lots and lots of iterations. I ended up coming out with a range of products I actually thought were pretty desirable for a number of reasons. But then during Covid a lot of people were doing home prepared stuff. And so late last year we really looked at that and went, you know what, this is kind of bang on trend, Let's just go. So so we did.


Helen:  So what do you mean people during Covid we're doing home cooked stuff because I kind of thought that maybe during Covid with more people at home and more time to prepare food from scratch that it might not be as good for a business that's pre preparing food.


Jeff:  Yeah. Well I mean the explosion in the supermarket all you got to just walk down the supermarket aisle in the freezer aisle and you see an absolute plethora of prepackaged, pre processed semi semi cooked ready to, it's not it's not I don't call cooking I call a food preparation because really opening packets you're doing it's like the mali spoon concept as well where they give you your ingredients, you're actually doing the put together and yeah you might be cooking at steak doing some certain things but chopping some veggies but you're still relying on someone else to get you to a certain point. You're not doing everything from scratch and that has exploded during Covid. And that's been something that a lot of people stuck at home or not as easily able to go out to a cafe or restaurant or of a sudden they're like okay well let's put some time and energy into something nice at home and they're looking for other interesting options. So one of the main three things that I'm targeting with this product in this range is that convenience Of just being able to walk into the kitchen go, right, I'm going to have pulled pork burgers in 10 minutes and I've already got the rolls and I got salad. I got all this stuff and I'm just going to pop this thing in the microwave or headed up in hot water on the stove and it's done. So that's, that's that convenience thing that I want to tap into. The other thing is really the smoked foods, it's not actually available. So it's a bit unique. It's not something that people can just at home go or have brisket tonight and not have to buy a seven kg brisket, spent 14 hours smoking it. It's just, it's like that. And then the other part of that, the trends there were being all natural. So I've taken care when you smoke at home and you get a brisket, you put some spices on it, you might inject it with some apple juice, that's what I do, but you might do whatever you do to it. It's typically a natural process and they're only using kitchen ingredients. And then when the food is ready you eat it, you don't need to preserve it. You don't need to hold it for weeks and weeks because of a commercial supply chain. And so I've taken that sense into these products. This smoked mushrooms for example, I've put a rub on them, but it's just kitchen spices, that's all it is. So they're smoked, they're packaged and then I do a post packed pasteurization, which means they get shelf life, but they're still all natural. So I'm not using preservatives, colors and flavors, liquid smoke, acidity regulators, nitrates, thing such as starches, gums, you name it, if you look at a lot of the commercial small goods type product in the supermarket, they're just full of crap and I'm a food tech and I gotta google half the stuff that's on some of those packs because I just don't know all those numbers, but there is a trend in that industry to go nitrate free and numbers free, which is great. But I'm really the front of that with being all natural.


Wendy:  And I think that's a really key point because so many things that you look on a supermarket shelf, if you actually care to turn it over and look at the ingredients. The list is as long as your arm to start with. And often it's, even though it might say whatever it is safe for instance, it's corn, corn may not be the top ingredient, the first ingredient and that's the key to what the most of. And then, as you say, you read down and all these things that really don't make any sense, words that you really don't know and I'm sure they find the most obscure word to cover whatever it is and then the numbers and I mean I know lots of people say don't buy anything that's got numbers on it because it's all sorts of bad things in there. Hopefully people are starting to take notice of that and going back to that simple ingredients and that there are no added preservatives and added, who knows what nobody really understands?


Jeff:  Because 100% you need to know what you're putting into your body totally. That's and it is a growing trend and it's been a trend for a while actually they call it clean ingredient deck. And my phrase that I'm using is 100% kitchen ingredients. So it's not really using anything other than what you’d find in your kitchen cupboard and what you normally used to cook. And it is absolutely trend. I mean all the guys in nestle and Unilever and all the big food companies in the world, they're all trying to get their ingredient declarations clean and clean means words that people understand and not numbers. So yeah, and so I'm quite proud of that. So that's been that's been the third thing that I'm really pushing is that they're really like they have just been, I'm using heat. So I'm vacuum packing the products after I've processed them back in packing. Sorry, that's right. Cryvac other people say which is brand. But yeah, so then doing a hot water treatment for time. So I'm giving it a microbiological kill and that's why I'm getting shelf life and I've incorporated that into the cook. These products are quite unique and innovative. It's a combination of process that I've used to deliver a product that you just pull out of the bag and serve. There are products out there, you know, you can get a pork shoulder or a brisket and you can heat it up and do a similar thing to what I'm doing. But then you've still got to slice it and you've gotta pull it and you've got to do all these things. This is just open the bag and serve. So that's that's the convenience factor. Which is working for people. It's been market for a while now and it's going actually going quite well.


Wendy:  Excellent. So when you say, yeah, it's quick and convenient. Your heat, you mentioned microwave, which I know a lot of people have an aversion to and like using the microwave unless I really, really have to. So what are the other ways that they can heat it? Do they have to heat it in the bag it comes with because again, some people their food safe bags and are designed for that purpose.


Jeff:  But a lot of people don't like heating in plastic and totally respect that. So the other two main ways, if you want to heat in hot water, not the microwave and in the bag, then you put it in cold water, just like a potato and then just bring that up to a simmer and then let that heat come through the packet and then you open up the packet and serve it. But if you don't want to do that, there's a number of ways you can take it out and this is good. Most pouches are actually for four people, so if you're only feeding too, it's easy to take half of it out, put the rest in the fridge or the freezer. They freeze very well. You can put it in a microwave container and microwave it. But if you don't do that, you can put in a stove small pan, a bit of extra water because we don't want the water to escape and just give it a slow cooker. And so yeah, you just, you're basically steaming it, it doesn't need to be cooked, it only needs to be re heated.


Wendy:  Good to clarify that for listeners to understand because there are different ways of thinking with different people in terms of heating food. So that's good.


Helen:  So just going back to that question of why? So there's layers of why, There's always layers of why? Because you really do food from a different lense, in terms of being the food technologist. You're looking at your … you live food differently to the way I live food.


Jeff:  Yeah, it's a total experience. Whenever, whenever new product comes out, you're always just sitting there going, how do they do that? What do they do it that way? A lot of people just didn't go that was young. But anyway, so that's what I do with your product. You all these questions Yes. I in terms of actually deciding to launch something, go for it commercially. One of the things that we want, it's got to be unique. And so I think I've already gone through a fair bit of why it is unique, but also it's not easy to do. Um it's a very involved process. So lets you know if we walk through, let's say our mushrooms are smoked mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms put give them a good wash you know put the rub on it later on a tray put it in the smoker. This big commercial smoker which is wood smoke use beechwood. Then it's got that's a time in the oven it's got to come out in the smoker. It then has to be packed off and that impact and sealed. Then that has to go into the water bath which is the C. V. Control step. Then that has to come out. It has to go into a cooling bath to cool down. Then it goes and dry off in a cold room and then it comes out, gets labeled again, gets packed off so it's not like I'm just grabbing mushrooms and putting them in a bag and selling them. It's a very involved process. And all the different products that we've got the range have a different sequence of events and different injections, seasonings, rubs, all different things go on. So it's actually not very easy to do, especially not at scale. So I think it's one of those things that the barrier to entry of competitors. So you're hired, well, you could put it that way. You can also say that I just worked really hard, but you do want to do something that's not easily replicable. And so I think the reason these products aren't out there now is because they are hard to do and I've worked out how to do it. But also I don't think they're easy to invent and then do at scale. So I'm not worried about one of the massive players in the market going, oh, what a great idea. I'm going to copy that and sell it for 40% less price because they've got economies of scale. And I'm just me at this stage, so we were looking for that as well. So even though it's it's hard and difficult sometimes to be unique and to be different in business is your is your asset. And it's the reason why you can charge what you need to charge to survive because it does things for people that they can't get from other products. And so that's when we were designing the products and what they do for people. You know, you've got to match that up with the price point that people are prepared to pay. So that was that was one of those little tricks to work out before we decided to go for it.


Helen:  I don't know much about smoking foods in general. I would never buy a smoker to have at home, but so just give me a brief summary of smoking food.


Jeff:  Probably the first thing to say is that there's just about a billion variables and there really is, I mean, when you look at meat, I mean if you go to the shop and you buy rump steak, whatever it is, chicken wing, it's not always the same. The chickens are different, these different, you never get 100% consistent products. So if you're smoking mushrooms, like for example, today I bought mushrooms and they're big and chunky compared to last week, they were fat and, and I don't actually control that because I'd buy them from the fresh markets and you buy what there is. So until I get to the scale where I have to set my own spec and people are making tons and tons of mushrooms to my spec that you take what you can get and when you're smoking products and foods, meats and vegetables, that's the first variable is in the raw materials. So you can control your kitchen spices very consistent everything but the main product. And because I don't put anything else in it, so I'm not putting stabilizers in, I'm not I'm not I don't have all these other things that big commercial players have to normalize a variable in your raw material. And that's the reason why a lot of those companies have that stuff in. Because they don't always get, yeah, same flower the same week, the same, they've got to make the same product and and they use those things to tweak. So I've got very little tweak ability. You know, my pulled pork is pork, apple juice and spices. So if the pork is a little bit different than it was last week, then you'll see that come through the product and when you're smoking. So really it's typically the main factors in smoking, the three factors of time and temperature and then degree of smoke or type of smoke. So time and temperature is pretty easy. You're doing a roast in the oven, you get that right, Everyone gets that, that's how you cook. But then the environment you're smoking in is very different as well. You can have water pans, you can have a humid environment which cooks differently to a dry environment. And when you've got smokers that pull through heat off a fire, then it's actually quite difficult to control that moisture content in the oven. Then you've also got the type of smoke. So you probably heard about the type of wood and different woods give off different smokes. Um When I did all my R. And D. In my backyard smoker, I use Iron Bark because that's what in my pizza oven. And it's not a bad smoke, it can be quite a strong smoke. And that's another another factor that we've considered is the degree of smokiness. So let's say someone is interested in smoked foods. Ah Yeah I like smoked foods. Okay. How often do you want to eat smoked foods? Because that's an absolute factor. Our pouches. I'd love every family in Australia to have one of these in the fridge at any time and pull one out on thursday night, netball night, friday night movie night. No one wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Let's just get in, get some good food out and sit down. But are they going to do that if it's really smoky? And the answer is probably not because once you've had your smoke fix, okay, you won't go back again for weeks, months. So we've deliberately pulled that back and we're using beechwood in the smoker. But yeah, different wood types, that's another variable, produces different flavors, sweater flavors, milder flavors, stronger flavors. When you're wood smoking as well, there's good smoking is bad smoke. I guess you've all been around a campfire. The best fire is when it's burning nice and hot and it's almost a clear smoke that goes straight up. They call that blue smoke and that's, that's the best smoke to use because it's not acrid. So when you've got bits of logs sticking out of the fire and they're producing that white thick, we call it acrid smoke, you don't want that, that just permeates your food, it gives you that bitter acrid taste. And so if you're smoking in a unit, you really want to be making sure you don't have that kind of fire. You want good nice blue clean smoke and that that really flavors the food well. But doesn't overdo it. If you smoke a brisket for 14 hours with acrid smoke, that thing is going to be toxic by the time you're done. So so you've got to think about that as well. So in the commercial smoker that I'm using there's there's settings for much smoke and then the type of wood is important as well.


Wendy:  So the beechwood, how readily available is the beechwood to actually get for the smokers that difficult.


Jeff:  It's not it's not like the maple and the hickory and applewood. Those things are a bit rare and you can get small packets of them from bunning's and smoker shops and all the rest of it. But the quantities that I'm using it, but the beechwood is already being used by butchers all over the country because that's mainly the type of what they're using for hams and bacons. Okay, so now the hams and bacons are cured, so not all the flavor that you get comes from the smoke, but the beechwood just give you a nice mellow, fairly sweet smoke, but it's not in your face, this is smoked food, you know, And I didn't want that, you know, there's smoke product, we're smoke brand and that's clear in our branding, but we also just don't want to be, you know, because not everybody in the family loves heavy smoke either. So you might have doubted mama into it. But little, little Joey who is seven years old is like, he doesn't want to eat it or mom doesn't like it. And in this case with these products, if mom doesn't like it, typically we don't do well, we're really our target market is really the meal preparer and to a degree that time poor meal preparer who's looking for something that's interesting and different but not unhealthy. And that's our little combination features that we believe makes our things unique.


Wendy:  So you've talked about the process that you go through and all of those things, which is really, really interesting. So if anybody listening that thinks they've got a food product that they want to take to market or would like to take to market, what would your advice to anybody doing that? And how difficult is it maybe? What are some of the steps without letting out too many secrets?


Jeff:  Well, I guess the first thing is always, is there a need for your product? Are you going to be able to sell it? And is it, is it interesting or different enough to grab people's attention? Because that's really the first thing I think last time with the…e I spoke about the two why’s. The first why is why are you doing it? Because it's really hard and it's a lot of effort. I'm two months into launch now and we're going pretty hard. I mean it's going well, but there's a million things to do all the time. So the why’s got to be pretty strong to get through that. But the second why is why are people going to care about your product? So I've spoken to many people, I've got a fantastic pollinate source. Okay, There's a lot of bioenergy sources out there. Why would people buy yours? And where would you sell it? So that they would buy it? Because then scale up comes in and costs. So can I make this on mass? At what point am I going to hit break even because you're not starting up a food business? I just, I just can't see anyone starting up a food business and making profit. Anyone who has to handle and processed foods and needed facility with, I've got safe food accreditation, you know, there's a lot involved in it, you've got to invest in all of that. There's a break even point, that's that's volume specific. So you've got to move volume, you gotta, you gotta be able to sell volume, but you've got to also be able to make volume and how you're going to go about making it. So thinking about the operations of a food manufacturer as well, there's probably two main things, so then your messaging. So here's where I've had a little bit of a learning curve. Actually I've had a learning curve in two spaces. The first one is in the brand messaging and being effective with communicating what your product is and how you go about it. And I'm starting to work with the brand agency actually, in terms of fine tuning now that I've been in market for a while, you re assess what's working, what's not working. And one of the little conclusions that we've come to is that I was a bit too close to the product and I haven't been as clear as I probably should be in my messaging, so that's something that, yeah, it's easy for a founder or someone who's got the idea to just be really close to it and just think what they're doing is it's freaking awesome and it might be, might not be, but you've gotta tested validated and get other people to cross checking. Probably I would have done that a bit more. The other part is I always knew social media and social presence was going to be big for this business and I thought I'd have a chop and it's been a learning curve. It's harder than I thought. And so now I'm trying to get other people to come in, I'm learning at a rate of knots, but you know, my history, as you know, has been largely technical operational. So this is a part this marketing branding side of the business, which I've always been involved with and I've helped people with from the operational point of view. It's something that, that I'd recommend people get really into that if they're looking at an idea, particularly when some of your channels, online channels and how do people find you is really that's where people get found and that's where people get referenced and referred and you build up that pull that mark it pull. So that's my little recommendation for people is to get social online savvy and do the earlier the better. Because often you've only got one chance for limited chances of attention. And if you burn it in the first one, then it's hard to claw back. That's not rocket science. We all know that.


Wendy:  And the difficult thing is with social media that the algorithms are changing. Well, probably nearly every week and you just have to keep on top of it, you might learn how to do one thing a couple of weeks later, it's changed and you just have to keep on top of it. And it is difficult. And the other thing, I guess with the food product, if you've got limited distribution,


Jeff:  So at the moment I'm into, we've got four new retailers has just come on board in Brisbane. So we're looking to really support those guys and get people going to those stores. But you know, I can't go and put broadcast advertising out on social media that isn't geography limited. I've got contacts in Sydney and Melbourne and people that are on my network and they don't have access to the product and some of them are quite annoyed about it actually. So, you know, that's another thing to be careful as well as where's your distribution geographically? How far can you go? And then that affects your advertising and promotional strategies, because there's no point promoting it where people can can't get it and scaling out a product that you have made in an initial batch or a home batch, I guess that's the difficulty. And I know other food process people have said you might make it and like you were talking about the bolognese sauce, it might be grandma's bolognese sauce recipe, which is fantastic. But then if you multiply that to make quantity, it actually doesn't necessarily always turn out the same when you multiply it in scale and the same food and the same with the distribution. I mean, you've got to start small because you've got to get those distribution channels and that's really hard. And with a product that has to be kept at a certain temperature, as in cold, it is difficult because it's not like you can just put them in a box in the post or transport and ship it off there. There's a whole complexity of of other factors that you've got to take into. That's right. So it's not it's not any. I mean, people might think, oh yeah, you just make that, you sell it in the shop more of it. It's not like bagging off lollies, or a bolognaise for example. And it's a good example, you do a pot on the stove, it will call by itself, you're putting it in a container in the fridge, you're probably happy with that. You make a 500 kg batch. Those I call them thermal gymnastics, there'll be heating requirements and they'll be cooling requirements. And these are these are mandated in the food standards code. You don't you don't get to choose this. You have to do it a certain way to minimize the risk of things growing and botulism and all that. So yeah, if you're making a 500 kg batch, you have to pack that off, You have to call it, you know, and these are big logistical challenges. And then if you buy something that can make a 500 kg batch, well then how often you want to make a 500 kg batch and what's your shelf life? So shelf life is a really important thing to manage because most retailers don't want to get it with a couple of days to sell it. I don't want to discount at the end. That's risk to them. If they don't move it or they have to dump it or they're going to return it back to you and you got to wear the cost of everything or you've got to exchange it. So all these things if you can't pull it through that store in a reasonable amount of time. Yeah, so shelf life is a big deal and a lot of products are very short shelf life. 10 days. 10 days is not a lot of time to make it distributed, sell it order more. So it's all things to think about And it's more than the 10 days because I mean for that because it's then the customer has to have it and have enough time to use it If it's only a 10 day shelf life from being made to when it needs to be consumed. That's not very long to do all of those things that you just talked about is absolutely, people don't want to be forced to use something.


Helen:  So let's clarify just a couple of things because we've got listeners all over the place. You currently do sell through your website and you do currently ship from those orders.


Jeff:  So we've got Southeast Queensland but not limited to that. So we're based in Toowoomba. So Toowoomba is our hometown. So that's easy. We go from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland down to about Byron Bay. So we're going with one of the refrigerated courier groups that does some of the home meal deliveries. And so they run around in refrigerated utes. I get down to the depot in Brisbane on a monday. So we cut off orders on a thursday. I'll back them and prepare them over the weekend and we've got insulated boxes. It's all recyclable, actually wool pack products which are great. So b grade wool in cartons. So we're not using polystyrene, minimal plastic. So we are able to ship and drop off to the doors and I validated our temperatures to remain under five degrees for that length of delivery and then also being on someone's porch in direct sun for about nine hours, 10 hours I can get as well. So we are freezing some of the pouches for that. We don't freeze the mushrooms, but we do have we do freeze them. And we do ice packs as well because the products are very freezable.


Helen:  and just to clarify, you know, some of our listeners who may have listened to all of our episodes. No, that I tend to stick to a vegan lifestyle and I'm the one who introduced you and said, I love your product, so you do do plant based products, which is quite unusual.


Jeff:  It is so when I was feeding families, because we love having families around kids in the yard and and when you're doing a big smoker, you know, you're cooking a lot of stuff, you want a lot of people to eat it. Uh it's good fun, but I always did veggies. I was always doing corn, you know, you're always doing, you know, mushrooms were always great. And so you know when I was looking at commercializing products, you know, there aren't that many of the smoke meats available that I'm doing, but there are no smoke vegetables available, period. I haven't seen one. I mean correct me if I'm wrong and then maybe there will be one, maybe there'll be another one soon, but it just wasn't something that people did. So a lot of people do it. You know there's a lot of sides in U. S. Barbecue culture, there's heaps of sides that they do mac and cheese and all sorts of things. So it's very doable. But in Australia there was just nothing there and and and I'm a bit pro choice. I mean if you want to eat something and I can make it I'll make it for you. It doesn't bother me at all. So so the smoke mushrooms were easy because I was already doing them. And then my wife at the time, she said I used to just put salt and pepper on them and then she said oh you put all these rubs on everything else you do, because I take a lot of time with my rubs. Um, yes, So why don't you put a rub on the mushrooms? So I tried it. It's great. It's a really interesting flavors, you know, smoked barbecue style style mushrooms and they're really great on burgers and people are slicing them into risottos, non peters and in salads. And also, so it's not just a vegetarian product or a meat replacement. It's, you know, we were at a farm fest and everyone was like, I'll chop them up and put it on a my steak, it's great. So it's a versatile product. It's definitely plant based and is vegan. And the other ones I'm calling smoke plant, I'm about to rename it. It's not quite descriptive enough what it is is it's pulled shiitake mushroom and it's then clumped up into clusters and then I've put barbecue sauce on it. So it's an existing product market called Fable. Uh and that is a vegan plant based product, which is, and the texture is a very meaty bite, nice and chewy. It's, it's got a lot of lot of body to it. Uh And so I started trying to invent one of those things myself and play around with jackfruit and all that sort of stuff. And I just, it got pretty wild, found this product, Well, it's again difficult Jackfruit is seasonal, it's spaghetti squash. Again, great product, very seasonal. F


Helen:  I’d forgotten about that. I remember taste testing some of that a while back back in the early days.


Jeff:  Exactly. I was mucking around without a fair bit, but then I found this product just went, you know what stuff? It's a great product, let's just put barbecue sauce and smoke it, and they love it. So the fable guys are really good. They've been tagging me on their social media posts and it's been it's been really good. So I rang them up and you know how to talk about, they've got some real mushroom experts in there. And so that's been really good. And so yeah, that product is excellent. Again, burgers, wraps and tacos, all that sort of stuff,


Helen:  and Australian, Australian business?


Jeff:  Yes, yes, they're based in Australia, they're based in Sunshine Coast. Actually, not awesome.


Helen: So not only have you created a unique product, you've also created a, you know, a commercial collaboration.


Jeff:  Yeah, but they were really happy and they're really helpful as well. And, you know, I just wanted to get my messaging clear when I was referencing them because I've got links to their business on my website because I'm, you know, one of the, one of the things on the front of the pack is that's honestly delicious and I really wanted this brand in this company. It's just honest, it's like reflects yourself to a degree, but just what you see is what you get and not going to hide anything. It's a great product and I'm using it and it's, you know, enjoy. I love one of the others. Was it naturally naked? Is that we're having a giggle about that before the podcast and I really love that because it is what it is, which is which is really good. And when you have some of those that are a bit out there, I guess in terms of a tagline, people remember it out there. I think it's great. We're doing a bit of a messaging audit with a new branding agency I'm working with next next week and we're going to assess it and be interesting to see if that gets the thumbs up or the thumbs down, but where it came from, naturally naked was that I'm using vacuum packed bags and so the back is black and the front is clear so you can see all of the product in all its glory. And actually when it's not hot, it looks different when it's heated up, the fats that look different, the product looks different and it looks much better on a plate when it's hot. But I said, look, I can't really hide this. I don't actually want to hide it. This is what it is, It's all natural, it hasn't got any crap in it, this is what it is. And so I just come up with naturally make a striking. A few people actually think that's the brand, it's like, no, that's not, that's just an attention grabber to get you to look at it twice.


Helen:  Well I think it's really nice, you know the concept of it being an honest brand and a fun brand delicious brand. So we should remember the brand, Darling Fresh Smoke Haus and the house is Haus.


Jeff: So I didn't realize how annoying that was going to be to try and explain to people all the time, especially when they're googling it. People googling smokehouse, you wouldn't go and throw the german spelling in but it's a bit of a throwback to my swiss heritage. Oh and darling Fresh is the region is Darling Downs so and my consulting businesses, Darling Fresh Consulting. So I thought I thought I'd do it there. So it's Darling Fresh Smoke Haus online though and on facebook and on instagram it's DF smokehaus. So everyone just has to remember the house is HAUS. Not like the building house spelt in english.


Wendy:  Yes just to finish off with where to from here


Jeff:  got to consolidate and then just keep pushing. So so the plan is at the moment it's just me. So what I'm doing is we've got basically for Toowoomba retailers home turf don't well still doing online sales so we're still pushing out orders. But in terms of retailers I've gone into Brisbane now we've got four retailers they're excellent. We've got two on the north side, two on the south side and we started to taste tests there. Taste tests worked really well because people get to try I mean everyone knows you put food in people's mouth and if it's good food I love it. And then you say oh yeah this is ready in five minutes and they put me at the park and they try and buy them out of my display fridge, I'll have two of them and it's really the conversion rate once people are exposed to it is very high. So at the moment, so I'm doing that Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so it's working around the clock at the moment, but that's I think what you got to do to help start build that critical mass and gain the followers and, and, and have a lot of people liking you, which then creates its own momentum. So that's my next push. I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to think about bringing someone on part time to do help the factory processing. So that's something that will need to do at some point, because then I'd probably prefer to stay more in front of their customers dealing with sales. We're looking at catering options at the moment, There's a few projects going on in Toowoomba at the moment where we're looking at these products being used in a catering sense and they really, they are ideal for food service as well. I mean, you know, you get 5 to 6 burgers out of a pack of pulled pork, so if you're a small restaurant or a cafe and you want to serve a pulled pork burger, and you want to have an all natural pulled pork burger. Yeah, so there's those channels as well. So that's really our next moves. We're not looking at new products yet, but there are some in the pipeline. I think we've just got to consolidate what we've done yet, re-evaluate our messaging in our branding and our communications that's on the agenda as well for now. But you know, you'll always find something new to do. There's plenty of things on the list. You just got to work out what you want to hit first.


Wendy:  Absolutely. The to do list is always long continues to be added to what I'd say to everyone is watch this space and go and go and try some to start with and by some but watch this space for what happens down the track in terms of more products and what you're doing and more outlets that will be selling it as well.


Jeff:  So all the outlets are on the website. So DF Smoke Haus dot com today, you what are retailers there? And then the whole thing is an online store. So obviously we've got nine products and most retailers carried 2 to 3, some get carried four. So a lot of the products aren't available in every retailer. So if you're not sure about that, message me on social media or something, I can I can you know what's where if you're chasing a particular product, but if you order online, you can pick any of them. So you just want to list what the nine products are. Just so listen, I understand that there's not just the mushrooms and the pulled pork that we've been talking about. So there's beef brisket, so we've actually cooked brisket pre cooked and it's pre sliced, ready to go. So in six minutes in a microwave and a bit longer in a pot of water, you've got brisket burgers for dinner. So that's it. We've got the pulled pork and we've got pork belly bits as well. So little tasty barbecue. We soft, succulent little bits of pork. We've got a few chicken products, we got the pulled chicken, which is doing quite well. We've got chicken thigh fillets, which is smoked thight fillets and then they're sliced so ideal for salads and wraps. And those things. We've then got two sets of chicken wings, just some regular smoked wings and then some spicy, spicy jerk chicken wings, which is a jamaican spice that's got 14 spices and it's pretty crazy. It's a bit hot but it's very nice. Uh And then we've got the two plant based ones. So we've got smoked mushroom and we've got the smoke plant soon to be called called Shitake mushroom clusters, something like that. Come up with something shortly. They're the nine products and so yeah, I think about a few others but they may not all survive. You launch with what you think will work. And then public tells you what works.


Helen:  I really appreciate you coming and telling us all about how you started, why you started the range of products. The detail involved. It's been really interesting. I didn't know how much went into it and but I know how good it tastes, which to me is the most important part. As you know, that's my end of your product. That's all that matters really is what what it does for the consumer. That's why people buy things. Thanks for sharing it all with us on the gutsy matters podcast.


Jeff:  It's been a pleasure. You guys always ask really good questions and we always have a really good discussion. So thank you for the opportunity to come and come and share it with pleasure.


Wendy:  Thanks Jeff and good luck if you've enjoyed this conversation and no people who'd be interested in knowing more about this topic then show them you care and send them the link to this podcast to keep up with our gutsy Matters conversations. Subscribe and share with your friends for extras follow stored naturally on facebook and instagram gutsy Matters podcast is brought to you by, stored naturally. We are the creators of the all natural hemp fresh produce enhancer for longer lasting and healthier fresh fruit kept in the fridge, available at

13 August 2021
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