Once you discover a love for producing outstanding food you will be trapped forever and that’s certainly the case for Miles Drewery who started another food business about three years ago, The Sausage Press Deli Co, follows on from his previous café businesses in Richmond and is starting to make its mark as an authentic smallgoods food producer.
You will remember and his wife Steph from the two Miles of Food Cafés in Richmond, one the Richmond library and the café on Queen Street that the couple set up and ran for about five years.
They established the first café on Queen Street in 2009 before selling it in 2014; the café behind the library appeared in 2011 and the couple essentially ran a business each until they sold the second business in 2015 and headed to Europe for a couple of years.
You won’t be surprised that when I caught up with Miles last week it was over a coffee and we talked about his food journey, from working in kitchens as a teenager owning to cafes and finally on to sausage making.
Miles’ love of food started when he was still at school in Blenheim, he worked at Timara Lodge when he was 16 and still at school but he says his first real kitchen job was at renown Rocco’s Restaurant just off Grove Road.
“Mum is Italian so and every Italian knows every other Italian in Blenheim so Rocco took me under his wing and taught me a huge amount but my love of food and sausages probably goes back to my childhood in Auckland where mum and dad used to make salamis in a shed on our farm and sold them to most of the delicatessens in Auckland.
“That is until the council found out where they were being made and they quietly just closed up the home business. In fact, I use the sausage press they used to use on the farm to make salamis, it is ancient and is branded as the Sausage Press so that’s obviously the inspiration behind the name of our new business.”
Miles says that rather than creating something new and different all has really done is come back to his traditional roots producing products like salami, chorizo, cabanosi, some traditional English style sausages, pastrami and even a duck pastrami.
When he was in Blenheim Miles worked at the original Daniel Le Brun winery with Daniel for three years before moving to Christchurch intending to study winemaking at Lincoln University but couldn’t get into the course because it was post grad course. “Even though I had worked in kitchens and with Daniel I learned on the job, so didn’t qualify for the course.”
Originally from England, Steph is a horticulturist by qualification but is also a Cordon Bleu trained cook, “she’s a real foodie and has worked as a chef too, we met in Christchurch when she was cooking at the original Loaded Hog in Dundas St and I was working at Espresso 124 when it was owned by Richard Till.”
After Christchurch she went back to the UK to complete her horticulture degree and h went with her, “I basically just packed up and followed the love of my life to the other side of the world where I cooked at an Italian restaurant in Chelmsford for just under two years before we went to Whistler in Canada to work for six months.”
After helping his father build what was Drewery’s Wine Shed in Tai Tapu and “it’s now pretty much a wedding venue, in fact my daughter had her wedding there recently without knowing I had helped build it.”
After working in various restaurants in Christchurch Miles went back to England to get married and he fell in love with the street markets in Europe and the sausages they have. “It was the first time I had been to Terracina, the place my mum comes from just south of Rome and when we came back to Christchurch and bought the Herb Centre Cafe on Kilmore St I started making my own cured meats and sausages to sell in the cafe.”
The couple moved to Nelson in in 2009 and set up the first Miles of Food Café, “we took on a lease and turned a retail premises into a commercial kitchen and café.
“I said to Steph it was going to be difficult to set up a new business from scratch in a new town where no one knows us but she did a huge marketing job on me, if there was a cooking competition, cooking demo or charity event I was there. I did cooking demonstrations at the Sarau Festival and A & P Show and she even sold my cooking services at charity auctions, she just pimped me out, but it built my reputation as a chef and helped make the business successful.”
When it comes to the couple’s latest venture, The Sausage Press Deli Co. Miles says he is impressed by how many local chefs want to use local product, not just fruit and vegetables but manufactured products like theirs.
“We have been making salamis for three years, we purposely started small as were learning about salami and sausage making while slowing building the business. The children have eaten a lot of average salami but now our products are at a standard we are really happy with.”
At The Sausage Press Deli Co. Miles has turned to his Italian heritage to produce high quality, tasty, and natural salami and sausage products using traditional methods. “The meat speaks for itself, there’s no additives and definitely no numbers in my ingredients list – just New Zealand raised free-farmed pork, salt, sugar, herbs and spices that are treated with care and handled in traditional ways.
“There are no preservatives and all of our products are gluten free, everything is done the old-fashioned way, nothing is forced through a process and our salamis are smoked at 62 degrees celsius so they are effectively pasteurised. The product is as natural and traditional as we can make it.”
You can buy these beautiful salami and sausage products from The Junction at the Grape Escape complex, at The Old Post Office in Upper Moutere and at the Nelson Farmers Market every week from the first Wednesday in October. “Or just ‘Like’ us on Facebook and order products direct.”