A Day In The Life Of…

26 Mar 2014
3 min read
Pierre Issa (AKA Pepe Saya), butter maker, tells us about his day.

Pepe Saya’s Australian Cultured Butter is made using the best local ingredients – milk from happy cows, filtered water and a dash of home grown Aussie salt.The ‘culture’ in his butter is the good bacteria (lactobacillus) which is added to the cream, fermented for 24 hours and left to ripen over three weeks.

My wife and I have two young children so our day starts early and with a bang as we coordinate everyone’s breakfasts (toast with butter and vegemite anyone?) and preparations for the day. I like to start the day early so I can be home in the evenings to spend time with my family; I am usually at my factory by 7:45am. The first thing I do is meet with my wonderful factory manager to discuss production for the day. I make a range of cultured dairy products including salted and unsalted butter, buttermilk, crème fraîche and mascarpone and each one requires different production methods so we try to schedule the day to maximise efficiency in the factory and minimise downtime.

Once production is underway I can catch up on a little bit of admin: return calls, reply to emails and update my facebookand instagram. I really enjoy the way social media allows me to have an ongoing conversation with my customers and passionate foodies around Australia and the world. I have to say I am an unapologetic instagram addict, it’s a great way to communicate very simply with a broad range of people.

I have a lot of meetings off site and am often out and about meeting potential collaborators and visiting my suppliers. My wife and I buy local food and really try to support small producers because by supporting smaller, more sustainable and independent producers I think we can help reverse some of the effects of an overly industrialised food industry. In keeping with that philosophy I collaborate with various local producers on projects for example my seasonal truffle butter using Australian truffles, and use amazing local suppliers for all my ingredients. The cream I use comes from a local, independent dairy farm (http://www.countryvalley.com.au) where I pay a higher price per litre but in return I get a high quality product and help support a passionate farmer who cares for his cows and his land.

Pepe Saya products have an important point of difference: I make cultured dairy products, meaning that I add lactic bacteria to the cream, then let it ferment before churning it. I first began culturing my cream because the resulting flavour was so much deeper and creamier than using regular cream, but now having done extensive research on the fermentation process I know that fermented products are so much better for us, which is a nice silver lining.

Over the years I have expanded my range but have purposely kept the factory and production small so I can maintain the high quality that my customers have come to expect. The challenge as a small artisan producer is staking my claim in a market flooded with mass-produced dairy products, but I feel as though there is a groundswell of people who are really getting behind their favourite small producers. Change is happening slowly and that’s OK, I’m happy to take it one butter at a time.

I love what I do and work hard at it but I also believe it is important to have balance in your life, so after a day of churning out butter, tweets and ideas, of meeting suppliers, customers and collaborators, of sampling delicious food and drinking endless cups of coffee, I call it a day at about 4:30pm and head home to my beautiful family – because if my work is butter then my family is the bread.

www.facebook.com/PepesayaInstagram: http://instagram.com/pepesaya