“I admit it. I’ve probably bought one or two (bottles) over the past few years,” he says. “I say, ‘that looks good, let’s try that.’ And it ends up being absolute rubbish.”
One afternoon, for the staff meal, he made his own passata and an idea clicked.
“We thought, ‘Why not sell this?’”
The passata is only a starting point. The Esq Shop will also offer thick-cut, maple-and-juniper-smoked bacon, kimchi, pickled Australian ginger (one of the few products of its kind in the country), packets of the restaurant’s famous smoked buffalo jerky, fermented chilli sauce and a couple more products that are still in the development stages.
Squires, who’s also a keen craftsman, will sell handmade miniature barbeques and his prized Esq dining room table.
“It’s a big, alternate, non-designed, non-$20,000, dining-room table. I was on the hunt for one, couldn’t find one that I liked and I said, ‘fuck it, I’ll make it’,” he says.
Currently, you can only purchase directly from Esq, but once packaging is finalised in the coming weeks, you’ll be able to find the products at numerous places around town including Craft Wine Store, Sourced Grocer, New Farm Deli and Fruity Capers. An online shop is also on the cards.
All the products are made without preservatives, except the jerky, which contains nitrate. It’s how Squires thinks it should be done.
“It’s something that I don’t want to sit on a shelf,” says Squires. “I want to make it and I want it to be delivered that day and consumed in the week. Not stared at and looked at like an Instagram pic. Just consume it and enjoy it.”