We have some fabulous foodies in our MHF community and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Bernd from Artisan Vinegar last week where we talked about all things foodie. His passion for making his double fermented (yes, he ferments his fruit twice so the fruit flavour shines through with incredible depth) NZ fruit vinegar was inspiring!
I was also incredibly lucky to walk away with a Limited Edition Black Currant Vinegar to try in my kitchen. Not only that we also have it available exclusively to My Home Foodie followers just in time for Christmas…
On our Wellington Facebook page you will find a ‘click now’ offer available to buy a Gift Boxed Black Currant Vinegar for only $15 plus postage. It is the perfect gift for your foodie friends or that tricky family member who is hard to buy for – you know the one that has everything!
In the meantime though it is time to get to know Bernd, a whole lot better. Here is our next installment of finding out about the person behind the food:
Who are you?
Originally I come from Austria and I’m a chef by trade. A long time ago I came to New Zealand with a backpack. The plan was to explore a country I did not learn much about at school and to add to the adventure New Zealand was the furthest destination I could fly to from Vienna. Two days before I was scheduled to leave I got a job offered and the rest as they say is history. Now I’m living since 20 years in this beautiful country which I now call my home.
How long have you been making your artisan vinegars and why vinegar?
4-5 years ago I tried to explore what could be done with Feijoa, Tamarillo and Kawakawa. Those ingredients are just about unique to New Zealand. After a few experiments and a lot of research I decided to try making vinegar of those 3 ingredients. It turned out to be a great success and Artisan Vinegar was formed.
What are your favorite fruits you like to ferment with?
That’s a difficult question as I like them all but Tamarillo and Black Currants are on top of the list.
Is there any philosophy behind your brewing?
Yes, I only use New Zealand ingredients and only natural ingredients. I refuse to use anything artificial and all my products to not contain any preservatives.
Describe your workspace?
My vinegar room is my sanctuary. I still work as a chef, which at times is very stressful, so as funny as it sounds I love going to my second “job” to unwind. Most processes are slow, you can’t rush nature. The most incredible part of my vinegar room are the sounds and smells. The smell of fruit turning into wine and the wine into vinegar is present and slightly different in any corner of the room and the bubbling sound of fermentation has a very calming effect. I spent a lot of time in my vinegar room, vessels of all sorts are in different parts of the room, made of stainless steel, glass and wood. The second half of summer and spring are the busiest time in the production area with most of the fruits I use in season, The other times of the year keep me busy with filling and packaging. I just love doing it, it’s my passion.
What kind of music do you listen to?
That depends a bit in what mood I am in; I like to listen to anything really. Saying that I enjoy hard rock, ACDC, Guns’n’Roses, Alice Cooper but I’m not opposed to listen to classical music as well. Also being so far away from home I love listening to Austrian pop music from artists I was listening to when I grew up.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
Keep it simple, don’t over complicate things and appreciate the small stuff
What has been your best peace of advice you have been given?
One of my cooking teachers a long time ago said to me once always lead by example, don’t expect others to do what you are not able to and never give up
What has been favorite feedback from a customer?
It was from a women on one of the markets I did, she looked preoccupied and tired and I gave her one of our berry tasters which were marinated with Tamarillo vinegar. The feedback was nonverbal, her face just lit up when she tasted the berries and a smile from ear to ear appeared. Seeing that was the best feedback ever!
Do you have a secret recipe that uses one of your vinegars that you keep going back to time and time again… are you wiling to share it?
I love seafood and I got two recipes I am always coming back to, they are not really secret, both of them are on my web site and both are really simple. The first one is a recipe with Kawakawa vinegar, marinated mussels very simple but man sooo good!. The second one is with my Chardonnay vinegar, it’s a jelly which I just love with oysters, especially bluff oysters, again a very simple recipe but highly addictive. There is a third one actually, marinated berries, on my website it’s made with the Pinot Noir vinegar but its lovely with any red fruit vinegar, especially the black currant vinegar. I use this recipe for tasters on most markets, it’s incredible, again a very easy recipe to put together and oh so yummy
If you were a Superhero… who would you be and what would you do?
I would be superman and would ensure no one suffers hunger or thirst
Here is Artisan Vinegar’s Foodie page once again to read over…