Fix and Fogg founders Andrea and Romen Jewell
Somewhere in the back streets of Wellington, halfway down an alleyway, is a pretty special window. It's behind this window, in their tiny craft nut buttery, that Roman, Andrea and their team churn out about 250 jars a day of the most lip-smacking, finger-lickingly delicious peanut butter you've ever tried. You can straight away smell the passion that goes into every jar of the smooth, crunchy, chocolate and smoky peanut butter quartet. We catch up with founder Roman Jewell, who tells us a bit about the journey from peanut to plate.
Andrea and I started Fix and Fogg peanut butter just over 3 and a half years ago, when we were expecting our first child. Previously both lawyers, we wanted to leave behind the rat-race and create a product that was tangible, sustainable, and completely delicious. As peanut butter lovers, it was a natural choice.
After numerous trials, including purchasing a (completely dud) grinder from India, we finally (and with the help of a custom NZ-built grinder) arrived at a peanut butter we were proud of. Our friends and family all tried it, and following their hugely positive response, we were motivated to continue with it as a business. We started out renting a bowling club at nights (as we still had day jobs) to make peanut butter for local farmers' markets around Wellington.
We love that we make every jar from start to finish in our factory in Wellington. We’re passionate about food - taste, ingredients, and provenance, and feel so lucky that we can celebrate these through our peanut butter. As well as our hugely popular Super Crunchy and Smooth varieties, we have developed two staple flavoured peanut butters - 'Smoke and Fire' (organic cayenne chillies, smoked paprika and natural manuka smoke), and 'Dark Chocolate', which as the name suggests uses Whittakers' 62% single-origin Ghanaian dark chocolate.
Plus we’re really proud of the fact that our peanut butter has won awards in both New Zealand and Australia.
We take a lot of care with the ingredients that we use and how we treat them - we’re a premium product, so the ingredients that we use need to reflect that aspect of our peanut butter. Wherever possible, we source locally from within New Zealand and Australia, such as our chillies, hi-oleic peanuts and sea salt. We’re really proud of the fact that we extra-dark roast our peanuts to bring out their fully nutty flavour. Our super crunchy and smooth peanut butter only contain peanuts and sea salt, so our roast, grind and texture need to be perfect.
We like them all really - and peanut butter is such a fun product to play around with because it can be either sweet or savoury. We have a soft spot for our Smoke & Fire peanut butter - it’s something we started off making just for ourselves and then released it as part of our range. It’s a pretty crazy flavour - we call it ‘a journey of flavours’ and it was nominated for a New Zealand Food Award.
Premium, inventive, delicious
Yeah, you said it! Small business is hard work… but at the same time extremely rewarding. In many ways F&F is a really an extension of the personalities of the people who work here so getting complements is such a special thing. We’re lucky that we have a lot of direct customer contact because of our little tasting window in town.
We make peanut butter every day in our production facility which is based in the middle of Wellington city, so the commute to work is a good one. I guess like most small businesses, no one day is ever the same - I wear many hats at F&F and will spend the day either making peanut butter, sending emails or going to meetings. We try to do everything ourselves here - whether it’s designing a new label, calling our customers or doing a social media post. It keeps us on our toes but means we can tightly manage all the small things, which are important to us.
We’re pretty lucky in Wellington to have a few great weekend markets to choose from and we know most of them from starting out selling our peanut butter at these events. Our favourite is probably the Thorndon Farmer’s market - it’s small, quaint with a great local following. They sell a range of produce from Wairarapa organic veggies to award winning sheep cheese from Kingsmeade Cheeses .
Ah that’s a really tough one as we’re friends with a bunch of small batch producers, so choosing a favourite is never easy. However, one of absolute favs are the oat cakes made by our buddy Morgan from Bonnie Goods in Auckland - they’re delicious on their own but pair so well with our PB.
I’m really into a type of beverage called kvas at the moment - there’s a small producer in the South Island called Brod that has started brewing bottles. The drink is kind of similar to kombucha and made from a rye bread starter.
We still really focused on making peanut butter - and doing it properly. We have a couple of new varieties of peanut butter in the pipeline, so watch this space. We’re also a little bit obsessed with Australia’s amazing range of native produce and bush tucker -- Davidson plums and Bunya nuts to name a few, and it would be great to incorporate these into some new varieties down the line.