Lisa Richards started Knutsford Gourmet with a simple mission statement: To introduce new flavours to the cheeseboards of Perth. While Perth’s access to quality cheese has steadily increased, she noticed that people were more inclined to fill a plain cracker with spreads, fruits and nuts, than to look at upgrading the cracker itself. We spoke to Lisa about how she started making gourmet crackers, and her experiences as likely Perth’s only gourmet handmade cracker producer.
"I wanted to encourage people to eat a different flavoured biscuit with their cheese instead of a plain cracker or cheese on it’s own. People would add paste and fruit to a plain cracker, so why not have a flavoured cracker?”
Lisa began making biscuits when one morning, stocking up at The Grand Fromage at Kyilla Farmers Market, she noticed she couldn't get everything she needed to entertain guests that night, "I told him he should sell biscuits and accompaniments,” She suggested that she could make these biscuits herself, and showed up to the next market with her first batch, baked in her home oven, "He loved them, and became my first stockist.”
Starting with a Walnut and Honey Lavosh based on a recipe she learned as an apprentice chef, Lisa began expanding her offerings and building her brand.
"I think it helps having been a chef for 17 years. It helps to know your flavours. For example I don’t use raw fennel seeds, I toast them first which gives a more nutty, wholesome flavour. I have different styles of biscuit as base styles, and then any flavour can go on it, It’s all about experience and experimentation.
Her products now include graham crackers, lavosh, multi-seed crackers, shortbread and biscotti, each with suggested cheese pairings on their packaging.
"Just like any food, a chef puts together a plate with flavours which all compliment each other. I’ve designed styles of biscuits which will compliment your style of cheese."
Each package contains just enough produce for an average cheeseboard without any waste, the crackers have a good shelf-life of 5-8 weeks depending on the product, even despite being handmade with no preservatives.
As her brand expands, Lisa has moved from her home oven to a commercial kitchen, with yet another move in the works. She plans to expand her range and distribution without neglecting the quality and bespoke nature of her produce.
“My home oven made everything up until about three months ago. It was on morning, noon and night. I would drop the kids to school, roll, bake, then pick them up with trays ready for the oven. I’d put them to bed and start again from seven to around midnight, then start again."
"Once I’ve got the new space I’m looking for I can get the product to a lot more people. I also want to start touching on the Eastern states.”
The success and positive reactions Knutsford Gourmet has earned have shown Perth’s trending interest towards more complex and nuanced food, "People don’t spend money going out to clubs so much any more, they spend money on food, something you can remember and talk about for the rest of your life.” said Lisa.
In closing, we asked Lisa how she sets up a cheeseboard at home. "I always have a lavosh, something long, then a stack, some nuts, olives and fresh fruit on your plate,” she said, "I like some sweet and some savoury, Three cheeses and the biscuits which best suit."
Order Knutsford Gourmet and find their stockists on their website.