Simonetta Ferrari makes her delicious Buoni Sapori condiments from the heritage organic produce of Gunyah Country Estate in Windwhistle, Canterbury. A member of the Selwyn Food & Wine Trail, Simonetta can also be found presenting her creations at the Hororata Highland Games and the Royal A&P Show in Christchurch. Her Felt shop has a great range of goodies, perfect for Christmas.
What do you make?
A wide range of country-style spreads, sauces, jellies, jams, chutneys, oils and baked goods made only with organically grown fresh produce from old varieties of trees on our estate. There are no artificial ingredients, flavourings or colours and practically all goods are gluten-free and dairy-free. All handmade in our kitchens at Gunyah Country Estate using traditional recipes. Deliciously tasty, unique and sophisticated preserves.
How did you get into your craft?
I sort of grew up with it. I grew up in Italy with a grandmother in the house, who did all the cooking. Each summer of course there was a lot of preserving going on. My grandfather on the other side also made all sorts of things. We had a large vege garden and an orchard, and people freely swapped goods from their land. The first cookbook I ever bought was a preserving book and I was 14…
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not as such, though I am the chef at Gunyah Country Estate and I have been teaching Italian cooking classes for years.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Vegetables, fruit and nuts, from old varieties of trees/plants without any chemical interference or anything artificial.
Traditional (now considered ‘old fashioned’) preserving methods – basically oil, vinegar, sugar or salt, according to what you are making. Old recipes, some go back 300 years!
My Robot Coupe food processor is invaluable, as are exceptionally large pots for sterilising though I need some help in lifting them sometimes as they get very heavy!
My zester that I bought in Paris years ago: I stumbled upon a very large warehouse for hospitality supplies in Les Halles, complete with men in brown coats… I composed this very long sentence in French: “Bonjour monsieur, je cherche etc etc, that implement that you use to take the zest off lemons and oranges…” with great pains explaining what the item did, since I did not know its name in French, and after all that the man exclaimed, “Ah, madame, vous cherchez un zesteur!” There you go, I could have guessed it myself and made up the word! Anyway, it is one of my precious implements, along with long silicone gloves to extract the jars from the steriliser.
What inspires you?
Anything that is traditional, old fashioned, country and from England, France and northern Italy.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Yes, it has to be traditional, nothing fashionable and fandangled. (Well, apart from the food processor, which makes work a lot faster!)
Describe your workspace:
I have a commercial kitchen at Gunyah, with stainless steel benches and very practical white cupboards. I don’t like the look of it, it was put in by previous owners and it looks too much like a city kitchen, while we are in the depths of the country in Canterbury. One day when I am rich I will re-do it – ha ha!
There are rules and regulations for the food inspector, so I quite like the stainless steel. The window looks onto the orchard and the Port Hills in the distance. Gunyah is 103 years old and has a cellar, quite an unusual thing in New Zealand. I can store a lot of produce there naturally, keeping it cool while being processed.
Five words that describe your mind:
Organised, efficient, people-minded, caring.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
A man at a fair, a farmer, keeps coming back to buy the ambrosial marmalade, and every time he tells me it is the best he has ever had and it is his special treat!
What are you currently listening to?
Gladys Knight “Midnight train to Georgia.”
Recommend an album:
Nat King Cole Ultimate Collection, and various bits of blues music
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Tom Sawyer. I read and re-read it every summer… I loved it when he went fishing, in the bush or painted the fence. They don’t have wooden fences in Italy so it was quite fascinating for me.
What are you reading now?
Strangerland, the story of a family that started off in Britain, then India in the colonial days then New Zealand. It is a book-club book.
Who is your hero/heroine and why?
My grandmother- I learnt just about everything from her!
A favourite quote:
“He who plants a garden plants happiness.”
Do you have any pets?
Two chocolate Labradors called Boris and Luigi, two cats (mutts) called Lady Lavinia and Princess Daisy and perhaps the hens can also be considered pets… there are 17 of them, a few with a name.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
The Pixette (because I am short and I move fast around the kitchen).
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Be patient, it is very labour intensive so be prepared for a lot of hard work, but enjoy the creative process! Present your products well, it helps selling them.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A felted hairclip, like an orange daisy, because it was made by my friend, the one who introduced me to Felt, actually…
What’s in store for 2016?
A new product, something rather sophisticated and delicate in jars, for special occasions. (We look forward to seeing it! -Ed.)
If you like the look of Simonetta’s tasty preserves and condiments, check out her Felt shop for more.
Simonetta has kindly offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of a jar of her gorgeous Pickled Peppers Pugliese in olive oil (above), with a recipe from Taste magazine to go with it. To win this delicious prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Simonetta’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 18 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.