There are certain products or experiences, like purchasing a car, buying a handbag, travelling via airlines, investing in jewellery or updating electronics that we naturally differentiate in terms of quality and craftsmanship. We have a relatively good understanding of the value of the materials used, the quality of the design, how likely it will do what it says it will do on the packet, and the type of lifestyle it will help us lead.
This is often thanks to the well-developed marketing landscape and associated big budgets that go hand in hand with mass-market products. When it comes to be ticket items, we invest time and effort in researching all the options to make sure we end up with the best choice for our needs, wants and desires.
When it comes to consumables though, like the foods we eat and the beverages we drink, we sometimes overlook quality. According to Rosalin Virnik, Editor in Chief at Artisan House, Australia’s leading publication dedicated to connecting consumers with quality food and beverage products and the people behind them, habit, convenience, marketing trickery and lack of awareness can result in purchases which are misaligned to our understanding of what we’re actually getting.
In other words, not all bread and milk are created equal. We certainly know this to be the case when it comes to tea.
Rosalin is passionate about what we consume, where it comes from and the direct bearing this has on the quality of our lives. We talked to her to find out more about why Artisan House is on a mission to become Australia’s most credible information source for quality consumables, producers and specialist artisan craftspeople.
What prompted you to create Artisan House?
I wanted to create a platform for like-minded people who want a credible reference site to guide them to be discerning in their food choices.
Why is quality craftsmanship so important to you?
Honesty and integrity along the origin-to-consumption chain are the attributes of the value-driven process which belong to craftspeople. Artisan House exists because we are grateful to and supportive of the artisans, the specialist producers who practice time-honoured techniques to create real food.
Provenance matters. What’s yours and how does it show up in your work?
Yes, provenance is of utmost importance as I assess the quality of a product based on the integrity of the handling and processing along its entire origin to consumption chain.
I grew up in Australia where, from a young age, I was always interested to learn about the origins of the food I eat and the way in which ingredients were converted into food. I always loved pottering about the family kitchen garden and watching the fruit trees and vegetables grow and develop.
What makes you so passionate about quality food and beverages?
I have some strong philosophical views which we can speak about another time but in short, I understand how each particle we ingest subsequently becomes us. As human beings, we are able to choose much of what we ingest and for me the quality of the food we chose is integral to the way we live.
What’s your assessment on the artisan food and beverage scene in Australia at the moment?
We are fortunate. Australia is a very fertile land with varied landscapes and climates, lending itself to the ability to produce practically any crop or livestock we wish to grow naturally. We are a wealthy, first-world nation that is free and not plagued by war, leaving us the fortune to be able to make food choices which support quality-driven rather than volume-driven practices.
Tell us about some of your favourite artisans…
It’s not possible to have favourites as each artisan and each hand-crafted product are so unique with their offering. It’s an absolute privilege to get to know the specialists who produce the best food and beverages available in Australia.
How do you create little moments of luxury in your own life?
Being connected to our food by knowing exactly what we are eating (and how it came to become our food) provides us moments of luxury each and every time we eat. In fact, we have a term for this - Food Nirvana!
What piece of life advice do you live by?
As a child I was always taught that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
What is excellence to you?
Excellence is a display of practice which doesn’t cut corners.
So, what’s your tea of choice?
I love tea! I have at least a couple of cups a day. My equal favourites are Genmaicha (available via Cup Above Tea) and hand-rolled Jasmine Tea pearls (watch out for Cup Above Tea’s launch later this year).
Cup Above Tea’s Tea Master, Alison Dillon is one of the artisans featured via Artisan House, and you can find Cup Above Tea listed and reviewed as one of Australia’s finest beverage options when it comes to quality, craftsmanship and provenance.
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