Reviving a centuries-old practice for the preservation of meat has cured the malaise felt by many local aficionados of the culinary arts, according to Poach Pear founders, Adam and Marissa Bielawski.
French in origin, a charcuterie is both a store that sells preserved meat, particularly pork, and the products themselves.
In five years, Poach Pear has grown from producing a few hundred charcuterie goods, packed into the back of the family refrigerated van destined for weekend markets, to sales of more than 66,000 units in the past 12 months via 120-plus retail outlets and restaurants nationally.
Inspired by his great grandparents’ food heritage, Mr Bielawski, a trained chef with a fine-dining background, has created his own charcuterie delicacies, including pâtés, terrines, rillettes, and complimentary condiments, such as onion jam.
“We’ve developed a product around what people want, still keeping within the classical traditional (style),” Mr Bielawski told Business News. “It’s about keeping traditions alive.”
The couple started Poach Pear out of their Maylands café, Piccos Kitchen, in 2012 (since sold), testing their creations on customers and, due to popularity, developing and retailing an initial three products.
“People were going crazy for it,” Mrs Bielawski said. “And from the food service side, we found that it was all being imported or brought over from the eastern states – there was no locally made restaurant-quality terrines and pâtés. “That’s when we realised there was a niche need.”
Poach Pear’s distinctive flavours gained a wider following over time, with ingredients derived from local suppliers. This exposure led to distributor Blue Cow Cheese Company approaching the Bielawskis with an offer to take the range to stockists.
The team grew, from two to five, as did the suite of products (to 19), and production shifted to a commercial kitchen before a larger facility was secured in Bayswater, where operations are now based.
“As a small business, initial capital outlays are always a challenge,” Mrs Bielawski said. “We’ve had significant growth every year in sales and profit, but we’re still investing that back into the business.”
Poach Pear got a taste of demand beyond Western Australia when it entered the Victoria market in 2015.
“Melbourne is the food mecca of Australia,” Mr Bielawski said. “We thought if we can make it there then we’re doing pretty ok.”
Backed by hopes of replicating the success found in Melbourne, Poach Pear expanded to Queensland and South Australia earlier this year, with NSW in its sights. A move into Asia is now also on the table.
“Asian communities love offal, our products are the top end of that,” Mr Bielawski said. “It’s part of their culture, eating habits and they just love good quality stuff – we hit all three.”
Despite the name, pear doesn’t feature in any of the food producer’s offerings, but Mr Bielawski has a few ideas for pear in future products.
“To poach a pear it has to be precisely done and it’s elegant,” he said. “We wanted a name people envisage as really well made.”