Hakim Halim has worked at the Queen Victoria Market for almost a decade. For many of those years, he managed the cheese section of Bill’s Farm. There, he realised that very few delicatessens in Melbourne were throwing their weight behind local cheesemakers.
“I come from Singapore where we do not produce our own food; we do not have the natural resources to produce our own food,” Halim tells Broadsheet. “Coming to Australia 13 years ago and realising that us Aussies are so enamoured with European cheeses was very confusing to me – especially since there are so many local producers producing amazing things.”
He took matters into his own hands – and Ripe was born. The concept – a cheese shop selling a selection of quality local produce made entirely by artisanal producers – became very popular very quickly. And just four years since opening Ripe, Halim’s shop has evolved into something new: Ripe & Cured.
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There’s still a variety of Aussie cheese, such as La Luna’s Holy Goat cheese, Murray Bridge aged cheddar and Berry’s Creek’s Oak blue, but Ripe & Cured has expanded its offering to include locally made, free-range cold cuts. “Translating that philosophy – of offering local artisanal products – from cheese onto meats was quite natural to us,” Halim says.
To source the cuts, Halim and the team have partnered with a fleischermeister – German for ‘master butcher’ or ‘meat master’ – here in Victoria. “I knew that I wanted to work with this smallgoods producer in Castlemaine called Oakwood Smallgoods Co,” Halim says. “Their philosophy is all about locality.”
Since Halim is one of only two Oakwood stockists in Melbourne, Halim gets first dibs on new lines. “They appreciate what we do, you know, and every time they have something special, they come to us first”.
Another of the original store’s signatures were the toasted sandwiches, filled with gooey mozzarella, vintage cheddar and a smear of blue. Just as the stall has expanded, so too has its sandwich offerings. The small menu, which includes baguettes, toasties and sandwiches will rotate every quarter, and Halim urges customers to keep their eyes open for future creations.
Ripe & Cured
Dairy Hall, Queen Victoria Market, Shop 61–65
Tue, Thurs & Fri 7am–3pm
(03) 9329 6085