Ever purchased a fridge-full of ingredients intending to whip up a restaurant-quality meal before deciding to just go out, relegating all that food to landfill? This was a dilemma Condimentals’s Cameron Stephens faced one too many times, so he decided to do something about it.
The Sydneysider began accumulating jars of pickles, preserves, sambals and hot sauces to have on hand to easily make any basic meal sing.
The idea came to him when he was gifted a basket of preserves and fermented goodies in return for some work he did at Moonacres farm in Robertson, in the Southern Highlands. “My meals transformed into flavour bombs thanks to my arsenal,” he tells Broadsheet. “I could now literally just shop for staples – rice, eggs, lentils, a good cut of fish – and the rest was at home ready to rock.”
Stephens, who used to work at Mecca Coffee in sourcing and roasting, decided to spread the condiment love. With Condimentals, he’s put together a box of sauces, pickles and ferments that can be delivered from his Newtown share house straight to buyers’ doors. He has a plan to eventually launch a subscription service so punters will get regular deliveries.
He says each box (priced at $65) has something sweet, something pickled, a ferment and a hot sauce. Condimental places a high value on exclusivity, so there’ll only be 100 boxes per run, and many of the products will only be available in the boxes.
The launch box includes five condiments: there’s a fermented tomatillo salsa picante from Rough Rice in Hobart (“Getting it packed and sent to Sydney was a massive effort, featuring a few jar explosions along the way, but I think it’s worth it,” says Stephens); watermelon pickle from Fleetwood Macchiato in Erskineville; habanero and oak hot sauce from The Fermentalists; bread and butter pickles from Westmont Pickles in south Sydney; and umami seasoning from Ume Burger.
The boxes include in-depth information about the products, suggestions for how to use them and a run-down about the producers. Active (lacto-fermented) products are wrapped in insulated cool pouches, and the boxes are designed by industrial designer Greta Saggus.
In the future, Stephens says he hopes to feature more Indigenous produce, collaborate with small suppliers and set up his own line of branded products. He’d also like to create condiments from surplus produce (sourced directly from farmers) that would otherwise be discarded.