Simon Johnson, an ex-chef from New Zealand who has been providing Australia’s top chefs with produce for years, strives to provide the very best in culinary products via his two Melbourne stores in oorak and Chadstone.
You’re best to collect the basics first, in the form of rice, flours and maybe a grain such as barley or couscous. Move on to the collections of sweet biscuits, confectionery, pickles, teas, spices, rock star ingredients like Ortiz anchovies and more olives than you can poke a pimento at. You will never be without the appropriate condiment again either, with plentiful varieties of relishes, sauces, jams, jellies, oils and vinegars. Many products are also organic, from pasta sauces to fudge.
One of the highlights is that each store houses a temperature-regulated cheese room, where a truly staggering array of quality fromages (both local and European) are available to sample and purchase.
For foodie gifts, you can’t go past a Simon Johnson hamper. Choose one based on region – with names like Vive la France, Best of British or Simply Asian – or hampers based around antipasto or organic selections.
There is also kitchenware available. From crockery and tea towels to specialty kitchen tools like mortar and pestles, to the outrageous decadence of caviar spoons, it’s always a cheerfully posh affair at Simon Johnson.