With picnics suddenly the hottest event on everyone’s social calendar, it’s great to know some real superstars have emerged on the platter and catering front. And then there’s local business CASA Fine Foods, who have elevated gourmet grazing to a whole new level…
Imagine running a super successful catering company based on social events and large gatherings, and then COVID restrictions happening. It was a far too common calamity for many of our amazing local businesses, lots of which sadly folded. However, there were some who managed to pivot, and before long mouth-watering grazing platters covering everything from nibbles to dessert were popping up on social media as the must-have home delivery item. CASA Fine Foods, a local well-known business, was at the forefront of this wonderful new foodie fad that’s thankfully turning disaster into super success for some.
“It is a great success story,” confirms founder of CASA Fine Foods Adrian Carter. “We’ve experienced intense growth over the last three months, with sales doubling every week for two months. We have increased our customer base massively and are now well set to be a permanent fixture in the grazing scene for many years to come, servicing the lower and upper North Shore.”
It’s certainly one of the happier stories to come out of COVID times, but one that had nothing to do with luck. The success of the business has a lot to do with Adrian’s credentials, which have ‘fine food’ written all over them.
“I am originally from the UK but when I arrived I based myself on the lower North Shore and worked at the hatted restaurant Milsons in Kirribilli,” he says. “I’m a fully qualified and highly experienced chef with 20 years of industry knowledge. I was also General Manager of European Catering, a 5-star catering company in Sydney with a 30-year history. I was there for 15 years.”
This is where Adrian was when COVID broke out and the catering industry became one of its casualties almost overnight. Until an idea formed that would turn it all around.
“I started CASA because of COVID and a loss of work,” he says. “The original business model was to provide gourmet grazing boxes during lockdown. This has been particularly successful with an immense amount of local support especially in this last lockdown.”
It’s absolute foodie heaven perusing CASA Fine Foods’ website – with the sky the limit on gourmet offerings. These include grazing tables, grazing platters, picnics, hampers, alcoholic beverages, and scones and other desserts. All of the produce is Australian made and the business is big on supporting farmers and small local economies.
Perhaps their greatest point of difference though is quality. The Artistan Salumi, for example, is made by a local Sydney family with seven generations of experience and tradition. Their farmhouse cheeses are produced by master cheesemakers using Australia’s finest quality grass fed milk.
According to Adrian it’s the small grazing box that sells the most. “It comfortably feeds two adults as a main meal, and has been our most popular offering by far,” he says. The small grazing box includes: 4 cheeses and 4 cured meats, and is accompanied by olives, pickles, fresh Sydney honeycomb, seasonal fruit, nuts, fruit paste, crisp breads and baguette.
“Even without restrictions, ordering from us is a great solution to date night with no washing up or fuss,” says Adrian. “We also have our liquor license which sets us apart from most grazing suppliers. Our house Shiraz from Round Two is fantastic value and has been a top seller for the winter. We are now well stocked with whites and rosés for the spring/ summer seasons.”
A new picnic package has also just been launched to help with the celebrations happening all over Sydney as people get together in a safe outdoor environment again. It’s a mix of sourdough sandwiches, Australian made cheese, fresh fruits, cured meats and delicious patisserie.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Adrian has now pivoted the business again – this time with clever collaboration that provides customers with a next level gourmet grazing experience. Not Just Picnics is a local company who provide Boho Picnic setups, both equipment and styling. While Sydney Luxury Cruises will be offering CASA Fine Foods canapes and mini grazing boards for their cruises.
It will be an exciting time for the business heading into summer and Christmas with their popular offerings, although not without some restriction and staff-related challenges to overcome.
“Working Holiday makers and students make up a huge part of the hospitality sector and they are all absent currently,” says Adrian. “Another challenge is working with the seasons as far as produce goes. Sometimes there is an expectation for certain fruits to be available permanently, but we hold firm on our stance that we will not use imported fruits and vegetables. Finding high quality products at a cost-effective price can be hard when comparing with traditional European produce. However, it is so essential that we support our own economy and local producers. Restrictions have also meant introducing new staff handling and food safety processes and systems. Hygiene is paramount in our facility and respecting customer safety is top priority.”
As restrictions continue to ease, stay tuned for more great products and ideas from CASA Fine Foods to take everyone happily and safely into the festive season. And if you’re stuck for the perfect gift…
“Gifting online is now the new norm as well,” suggests Adrian, ‘and we are well set to deliver delicious Christmas gifts to staff, corporate clients, and friends and family.”
You can visit CASA Fine Foods on the links below, but be warned – you’ll find yourself with scrumptious cheese on a cracker in your hand before you know it.