“I’ve always had a massive interest in food,” says Bradley Bruni. “I went for a few chef apprenticeships when I was young. I didn’t get them – I was in school and obviously not cut out for a chef’s life at 15 or 16, which is fine. I’m glad I didn’t now … it’s a hard slog. And I prefer that personal connection with the guests.”
Bruni’s desire to work in a restaurant kitchen may have subsided, but his passion for cooking remains. Outside his jobs working front of house at venues such as Crack Kitchen (previously) and Fugazzi Bar & Dining Room (currently), Bruni has been bottling small-batch condiments and other pantry goods for himself, friends, and even customers.
Those products now form the debut line for The Average Grocer, Bruni’s online grocery store that launched today. There’s a seven-day fermented hot sauce; a garlicky chilli oil to add some fire to your pizza; spicy honey to drizzle over toast or ice cream; pickles “to eat on their own at midnight or in a sandwich”; and a “buttery, creamy, salty” miso caramel. “I’ll make this caramel sauce every now and then because I have a disgusting sweet tooth and I’ll put it on ice cream,” he says.
According to the website, it’s “a dreamland of average things made by average people”. It sounds like an undersell, but this speaks to The Average Grocer’s democratic concept. Bruni wants it to be a space for others to sell their goods, too – chef or not.
“I don’t want it just to be an online shop, I want it to be more collaborative,” he says. “So I want to work with chefs and some of my friends who I’ve worked with over the years and if they have ideas, they can make it and we’ll sell it and they get most of the profits … it’s just something to bring people together, to create some things and have fun.
“Going forward we’ll be focusing on small, very limited drops of goods from anyone and everyone. This is kinda the ode to being average folks with not-so-average ideas.”
There’s also a recipe section coming, where members of the community will be able to submit their own creations. One of the first will be by Fugazzi’s head chef, Ross Maxwell. “We’re talking about doing a Christmas recipe together, or a little series, like a how-to-make-bread series,” says Bruni. “Starting with basic sourdough then moving onto a Christmas loaf.”
He also wants to sell bottled cocktails and shrubs, made in collaboration with local bartenders. And a bottled batch-brew made using locally roasted coffee.
“I’ve got some custom, reusable grocery bags on the way, too, like those woven Coles bags,” says Bruni. He also plans to introduce a range of merch such as tees and totes, designed by Kiki Thanou (who’s also behind the bright, bold marketing collateral). “In my day-to-day life I’m very minimal, my house is all clean colours, my wardrobe is very basic, but this is like the [alter ego] part of my brain,” says Bruni.