For almost 30 years, chefs and dedicated home cooks have been buying ingredients from Simon Johnson, a premium purveyor of edible goods from Australia and around the world. Johnson, a former chef, opened his first store in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Pyrmont in 1992, and since then he’s branched out across the city (and opened two shops in Melbourne and one in Perth). Now, he’s adding a discount outlet by transforming his Alexandria store into a wonderland of cheese, caviar, condiments and pantry staples.
The outlet – like so many other recent culinary innovations in Sydney – was established as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Orders from restaurants and hotels have dropped, so the business has extra stock to move. The clearance store will sell bulk and wholesale items (including lines never sold directly to the public before), with 35 to 90 per cent off regular prices. What’s on offer will change regularly, but you can expect fine food and ingredients such as olive oil, foie gras, caviar, artisan condiments and very big wheels of cheese.
Simon Johnson usually stores around 100 kilograms of caviar in a purpose-built room, and it’s the only company in Australia permitted to repack fresh caviar into smaller tins of 30 to 250 grams. There’s even a “caviar ambassador”, Lisa Downs, who helps restaurants and customers make their selections. The company is also a leading importer of Valrhona cooking chocolate, which is used by some of the world’s top chefs.
Despite the (hopefully) temporary nature of the crisis, the outlet is set to stick around permanently – and the regular range of ingredients and homewares will still be available too.
The Simon Johnson outlet is now open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday at 24a Ralph Street, Alexandria. The official opening is on Friday May 8.