Ugly Duck Fine Foods - An interview with Michelle Mascher
We consider Michelle Mascher to be a true food hero, and so should you.
In 2017, 795,000 tonnes of fruit produced in Australia was rejected at farm level. Globally, almost half of all fruit and vegetables produced are wasted. Approximately 8% of greenhouse gases heating the planet are caused by food waste – in Australia alone, over 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill every year.
For the past four years or so Michelle's amazing business, Ugly Duck Fine Foods, has been rescuing 'ugly' food rejected by supermarkets & other retailers, and turning it into amazing fruit pastes and spreads.
We managed to steal Michelle away from her kitchen to pick her brain and see what makes her tick.
We know small business is hard. Is there an inception story to your brand? What got you started or gave you the push to start your own enterprise?
I started my company out of a deep passion to offer a solution against food waste. I’m a keen hobby gardener and I love cooking and when it came to my attention just how much imperfect fruit and vegetable Australian farms are forced to dump I felt a deep desire to help. I knew how to cook jam and I knew I could make use of all those ugly, imperfect fruit and that’s how it all started. I had no previous experience in the food industry but I figured it out bit by bit.
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
I’d say my mother and grandmother inspire me most. I grew up in Germany in a food obsessed family. We always cooked everything from scratch, with homegrown ingredients and nothing would go to waste. Rarely did anybody follow recipes. I call it intuitive cooking, that’s how I develop all my flavours and so far it worked out alright.
Other than yourself of course, who is your favourite artisan producer here in Australia? How come?
I’m in love with Meredith Dairy for the best goats cheese, Pepe Saya butter for the best branding and Nuffin dips for the best packaging.
We are in the business of gifting giving here at Mumbleberry? Why do you think your product makes such a beautiful gift?
It’s a jar of my Nectarine Turmeric fruit paste, for so many reasons: it’s one of my very first creations, it’s the perfect flavour to dollop onto a goats cheese log, it looks amazing and it’s totally unique.