We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Roman Jewell, co-founder of the outrageously popular Kiwi nut butter brand, Fix & Fogg.
Which Fix & Fogg butter is your all-time favourite?
I can never say no to a nice, thick slice of toast with our spicy Smoke and Fire peanut butter topped with McClure's pickles and Forage and Ferment sauerkraut.
What are your go-to toast toppings for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
McClure's pickles. All day, every day.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to create nut butters?
My wife Andrea and I dabbled in a few different crafts before we fell into the world of nut butter. We tried making cheese, beekeeping and even had a go at pottery. We finally found our niche when our friends and family kept asking for more and more jars of our natural, homemade peanut butter.
How long until you nailed the recipe?
A lot of people look at making nut butter as an easy craft, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of getting the perfect roast, the perfect texture and even the perfect jar, a lot of work goes into making a truly great product. Six years on, we're still looking at ways to improve our production and the quality of our products.
Why do you think Fix & Fogg nut butters have been such a hit with Kiwis?
I believe a large part of our success has been down to a couple of key factors. The first, which I am most proud of, is consistently maintaining focus on our values and quality. As we’ve grown over the years we’ve held on to our core values and maintained an uncompromising commitment to quality. In some ways, this has slowed our growth and the speed of our production, but it’s shown to us that it pays off in the long-term.
The second would be that we also have a hunger for innovation - whether it’s releasing new flavour varieties or creating interesting and sustainable packaging, we are always trying to be one step ahead.
What’s the most unlikely and surprising food pairing you’ve seen with nut butter?
I once watched one of our staff members (I won't name names) eat a banana dipped in our spicy Smoke and Fire peanut butter. That's probably one of the more surprising combos, but hey, you can't beat it until you try it!
Who is your hero in the NZ food industry?
There's a tonne, but Jamie Johnston is one person who jumps to mind. A super talented but incredibly humble chef with a heart of gold. You can find him doing amazing things and making a real difference in his community at Everybody Eats in Auckland.
Biggest kitchen disaster?
I won't go into too much detail, especially because some family members (sorry Andrea) are still recovering from the experience. But let me just say, don't let your four year old loose in the kitchen with a whisk and pancake batter.
Your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate covered coffee beans. Actually, if I'm honest, Chocolate covered anything really.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food (and what was it)?
I recently spent a couple of weeks over in the US visiting our newly appointed General Manager in Texas. Two months later and I still can't stop thinking about those breakfast tacos.
What are you currently craving?
Breakfast tacos. And pickles.
What’s normally on the menu for you on any given day?
Usually, whatever I can nab between meetings. Luckily, a slice of toast or a smoothie bowl is never far from reach with our Eva Street window being a stone's throw away from our factory. I'm currently loving our banana and acai smoothie bowls, I'd never tried one until late last year and now I'm obsessed.
Your go-to dinner party dish?
If it was up to me it would be a bag of corn chips dipped in guac, so I leave that decision making up to Andrea.
Favourite post-work drink?
I love heading down to Puffin, a tiny bar tucked away on Ghuznee Street. The fit-out is excellent and they offer some amazing beers and natural wine.
What’s your advice to fellow Kiwis wanting to kick start a food business?
Focusing on one thing and doing it really well - rather than 'spreading' yourself too thin. We now make 10+ different varieties of nut butters but in our first three years of business we only made our Super Crunchy and Smooth peanut butter. This let us hone our skills and improve efficiencies.
What’s next for Fix & Fogg?
We just started manufacturing in the US to keep up the supply for our export market, so we're heads down getting everything sorted out over there. As you can imagine, going up against some of the giants in the home of peanut butter comes with its challenges. But we think we have what it takes to go up against the big guns.
For more on Fix & Fogg, https://www.fixandfogg.com/.