Written and photographed by Lucy Mutch
If you have ever set foot on the hallowed ground that is the Harbourside Market, you are sure to be familiar with the marvellous Montfoort. Nestled in the cutest little caravan at the far end of the market you can find Eloise and Andrew selling their delicious Dutch treats every Sunday.
I caught up with Eloise while she was busy preparing stroopwafels for her suppliers....
Q. How long have you been producing at Crave? - “Since 2013. Five, ish, years now.”
Q. What made you decide to start making stroopwafels? - ”Put simply, I have a Dutch Dad! I was already doing some baking in this kitchen for my first business which was the “The Lawn Bowl Larder”. We would sell general baked goods like cinnamon buns and cookies at the Hataitai lawn bowl club once a month. It was very small scale. I wanted to start doing the “City Market” at Chaffers Dock but they already had the baking stalls covered, so I had to find something a little different that wasn’t available in Wellington. Dutch food was really unrepresented here so we thought we'd give it a go!"
Q. Where do your recipes come from? - “The stroopwafels were a matter of countless trials, errors and research. No one in our family had ever made them before. At home, there was always a packet to go with coffee when family would visit. They were the imported ones that seemed to last forever, with all sorts of preservatives in them - but that's the taste I grew up with! Our poffertjes (pancakes) are made to a recipe by my Tante Greet. She still makes them regularly for her grandchildren"
Q. Where can people find your stroopwafels? - “We've got a really nice bunch of stroopwafel stockists. All of which are places where I would personally love to shop or get coffee. In Wellington, Moore Wilson's is the obvious one, New Word Thorndon and the Dutch Shop in Petone (so many goodies to be found there!). We also supply a few coffee shops, Customs on Ghuznee, Coffee Supreme Midland Park, and Frank's Coffee. Oooh and Wellington Chocolate Factory take our stroopwafels, cut them up, and cover them in chocolate. There's a handful of out of town stockists like Rocket Coffee in Hamilton, Ark Coffee in Takapuna and Folk Brewers in Tauranga.. oh and the Kapiti Cheese store in Auckland... sounds strange but they pair rather well with their blue cheese! http://www.montfoort.co.nz/find-us/
Q. Can people order via your website? - “Yes definitely. It's really easy to order online and if you order five or more packs, the shipping is on us!” http://www.montfoort.co.nz/products-1/montfoort-stroopwafels
Q. What brought you to Wellington? - “Andrew and I are both originally from Taranaki. We we're returning home after a couple of years living in Edinburgh and wanted somewhere exciting to move onto. Andrew had studied at Massey a few years back and really loved it here. And there was plenty of hospitality work to keep me busy! It was an easy decision really"
Q. Have you always worked in hospo? - “Ever since leaving high school I worked in New Plymouth at various restaurants and cafes. And worked at some really lovely coffee shops in Edinburgh.”
Q. Did that help give you a good foundation for becoming a small producer? - “I think so. I was the manager in most of my previous jobs, which gave me a really good understanding of day to day running of a business. I also dabbled in kitchen work as well so I had a general understanding of prep and kitchen spaces and how everything works. Time management and checklists are quite crucial in hospitality so I feel like that really helped me. There is always stuff that comes up that I have no idea how to do, but then I just Google it or ask a member of the food truck family!”
Q. Where is your favourite place to eat in Wellington? - “It really depends on the day/occasion. On a Saturday morning, (Andrew and I usually have our Saturdays off if there are no events on), we will bike ride to Gypsy Kitchen in Strathmore. That's our all-time favourite place to go for morning coffee. It’s really quaint and the people who work there are lovely. They make amazing coffee and their chicken quesadillas are the best ever. Oh and their cherry pie is insane! Just everything there is great. Cicio Cacio Osteria in Newtown is a great spot for dinner. The menu is always changing so you get to try lots of different traditional things. And of course Loretta on Cuba. Such a lovely calm atmosphere there. Their pizzas, wholemeal croissants and cakes are extremely good”
Q. What has been your biggest challenge as a small producer? - "Sometimes I get stressed about the workload and it seems like a big deal, but then I'm like 'Oh come on, you're just making stroopwafels! I think the biggest challenge for me would be taking time off and knowing when to stop working. Even if I’m not in the kitchen being self-employed means that I can easily turn on my laptop and there will be emails to answer and other things to be done so it's quite hard to disconnect when you're at home. I am trying really hard to give myself Mondays off. A solid day where I just don't think about Montfoort. I usually bake something at home, like brioche buns that take all day long but it makes me focus on that rather than work. It's a nice way to unwind".
Q. How easy did you find it to set up your business? - “I feel like we did everything pretty easily and without a big struggle. We had a lot of support from our parents. They helped us out with the original stroopwafel iron which was crucial! We started small and grew rather organically. Gradually acquiring all of the bits and bobs that you need to do outdoor markets. Then along came Cibby the Caravan. My Dad put a lot of blood sweat and tears into that caravan and it was so worth it! In the very beginning I thought we'd work towards having a 'hole in the wall' spot. But the prices were just too high for central locations, so we figured it's actually quite nice not having to be somewhere seven days a week. In the food truck we can just pop-up when there is some thing on or when there are people out and about and go straight to them. We find ourselves at some really nice places because of that caravan!"
Q. Do you cater for private events in the caravan? - “We do! We have actually just started getting our first lot of private bookings for summer 2019 which is exciting. We've got a few weddings coming up with regular customers of ours, it really sweet that they want us at their wedding day! http://www.montfoort.co.nz/events/
Q. What do you like about working in the Crave production kitchen? - “It can be really long days in the kitchen, so it's nice having someone to chat to and bounce ideas off. We tend to find ourselves going through the same motions with our businesses so we can share the tiny triumphs and horror stories that come up now and again! I think it's so smart to start in a shared space for financial reasons. You're not tied down to a lease and you don't have to pay for the space when you're not using it. It has been perfect for us".
Q. Do you have a food philosophy? - "Eat quality food. Theres a really bad stigma around sweet stuff, but I think if it's made with care, from scratch and with quality ingredients it shouldn't matter. I love seeing peoples faces light up when they get a fresh plate of poffertjes, or bite into a hot cinnamon sugared oliebollen. there's really nothing better!
For more details about hiring the Crave production kitchen please email..... firstname.lastname@example.org