Nut Roaster in the news
July 25, 2006
Follow your nose
OFF THE SHELF
As you drive through the neat streets of Roselands, hit the brakes when you spot the pallet of brightly coloured soap-powder boxes outside the giant roller door of a red brick warehouse. You have found the Nut Roaster Company.
This Middle Eastern wholesale and retail grocer has been selling soap powder, cheeses, spices, pulses and, of course, nuts for nearly 30 years. Just as surprising as its suburban location are the four bright young faces that pop up to greet you as you walk into what looks like an inflated garage.
Jinan, 31, Mohamed, 26, Sophie, 23, and Tarek, 22, are the sons and daughters of Ghasan, aka Jimmy, Afiouny. Born in Tripoli, Afiouny began his wholesale business in the back of a garage in Campsie. There have been changes of partners and direction as Ghasan joined and left his brother and uncle, then bought out this company and brought in his eager food-loving offspring.
Jinan, a journalism graduate, was the first to come on board, followed by Mohamed, with a business degree, Tarek and Sophie, who works part-time and studies.
They are all keen students of food trends who have slowly introduced new ideas to their mainly conservative customers and are integral to their father's business. Ghasan is behind the scenes: no wholesale delivery to the delis, cafes, clubs and fruit markets leaves without his say-so.
This is still a no-frills outlet for traditional foodstuffs. There are cans of foul medames (beans), dolmades and eating olives and four-litre tins of olive oil (Mark recommends Arcadas and Minos Crete's Best), their father's blend of zaatar and his Lebanese six-spice, tubs of Dodoni and Epiros feta, bags of beans, packets of pasta, dried fruit, dips, biscuits and yoghurts.
Look closely and you'll see Wilkin & Son Tiptree acacia honey (Sophie tracked it down after Jinan had it in France), Maldon salt, Billington sugar, Lurpak butter and American dried cranberries.
Then there are the nuts, "our golden line". Tarek supervises the roasting in old-fashioned copper barrels that look like concrete mixers, a batch at a time, all day and every day. Orders are big - some customers take a tonne a week - and getting bigger.
Seventy per cent of the business is roasted macadamias, almonds, peanuts and the special coated or kri kri peanuts that Ghasan adapted from a traditional Lebanese recipe. If you drive with your car window open, you'll smell the roasting before you even see the soap powder.
Nut Roaster Company