Spices cut the mustard
Mustard is the spice of life and Whittingtons has 12 in its range, all made with seeds grown in WA. It’s a point of pride for co-owner Michael Braybrook and his Osborne Park business was among the first to join the Buy West Eat Best program when it was launched in 2007.
“We have three farmers supplying us — Phil Gardiner, the ex-Nationals member, up north in Moora; Michael Magagnotti, down at Grass Patch; and Ian Minty in Dandaragan, ” he said. “Some of our mustards use mustard flour, which is not grown here, but most are made with just the seeds and we preserve mainly with wine that comes from Galafrey in Mt Barker. My favourite is the white-wine mustard that’s made with Galafrey’s chardonnay. It’s 100 per cent WA.”
Whittingtons is one of WA’s oldest brands but Mr Braybrook, who had previously run global multinationals in Asia, didn’t know much about the iconic herb and spice business when he bought it with his next-door neighbour, Ernest Battimiello, 12 years ago after seeing it advertised for sale in The West. It was started by Don Whittington in 1975.
“Next year will be its 40th anniversary, ” Mr Braybrook said. “I was looking at something to buy and Ernest had always enjoyed cooking, so he’s chief spice developer. If we hadn’t put in a bid, more than likely the brand would have just disappeared. It’s one of these old WA labels that my mother was familiar with and is actually stronger in the bush where you don’t have the two big supermarket chains.
“We supply all the IGAs, Farmer Jacks, Tony Galati’s Spud Shed and export to Singapore, Malaysia and the US. Herbs, spices, mustards and essences go up every week to Singapore. Soon, 10 per cent of our business will be export but our focus will always be on WA. We’ve just introduced a fantastic bruschetta seasoning, also a taco seasoning and a pizza seasoning, plus a Jamaican jerk dry rub because Caribbean cooking is shaping up as a bit of a trend.”
Whittingtons sources local when it can. Its coriander and some fenugreek come from Dongara, a Narrogin grower drops off his crop of oregano from time to time and the salt used in its spice blends is harvested from Lake Deborah, north of Southern Cross. All manufacturing, blending, packaging and labelling is done on site.
The business has grown four-fold since the pair took over and now has more than 100 products, including traditional herbal remedies for professional use, in its range. Better still, company policy is to employ people with disabilities and special needs.
“There were a few here from Rocky Bay when we took over and we’ve expanded that, ” Mr Braybrook said. “In fact, close on 10c in every dollar of a Whittingtons product goes to a person with disabilities, such as our administration manager. He joined us a few months after we started in July 2002; it was the first job he’d ever had and we sent him away for training. He loves it.”
© The West Australian
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