Made with love
Simmone Logue’s history in the food industry goes back generations. Her grandmothers were both fabulous cooks, and she credits her fascination with all things culinary to their influence. On one side of the family, her “nanna Logue” was the cooking teacher at a high school. On the other side, her “nannaFairhurst” was a baker, and ran the canteen at a local coalmine. She was always baking cakes and pies, and stewing rhubarb from her house garden. Simmone still refers to recipes passed down by her.
“When I was growing up, cooking – and particularly baking – sunk in,” Simmone says. “It got under my skin, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time.”
Simmone herselfdidn’t walk a typical path into the food industry. In fact, she spent the first half of her career as a ballet dancer in a professional company. At 29 years old, however, she had an epiphany that she didn’t want to dance anymore – she wanted to do something where she could be at the top of her field.
“I’m a great testament to the fact that you can follow your dreams and change your career, and it’s never too late,” she says. “The ballet taught me a lot. It taught me about presentation, and it taught me about tenacity. That was a great foundation for me professionally to then move on into the food business.”
At first, Simmone Logue Fine Food Company concentrated on supplying a home-made, home-style pudding. Simmone made the product herself in her home kitchen, and would personally sell them to the nearest café’s and delicatessens in her area.
“I quickly saw that there was a real need and a real want from professional cooks for that kind of service,” she recalls. “I knew I was onto a bit of a winner, and that’s how it all started.”
From there, Simmone rented a disused butcher shop in Sydney, and started wholesaling. She originally operated alone, and did everything herself – from baking, to washing up, to cleaning the floors, to delivering the product. From there, the company evolved quickly.
“The business absolutely took off, and before I knew it people were knocking on the front door and wanting to buy my cakes in a retail capacity,” she says. “So I found myself a lovely new shop, and opened the front door as well as the backdoor. I started to retail as well as wholesale, which has been fantastic.”
Today, 20 years later, Simmone Logue Fine Food Company turns millions of dollars per year, and employs more than 80 people – many of whom have been there for years, and have “gone on the journey” with the company.
“It’s been a really wonderful ride,” Simmone says.
Tasting the difference
Historically, the Simmone Logue could be accurately described as a “premium brand.” In recent years, however, the company has expanded into new markets. They are now wholesaling into supermarkets such as Woolworths, and airlines such as Qantas Virgin – where their available in first class, business class, and economy class.
The idea, Simmone explains, is to give as many people access to quality food as possible.
“I’ve really tried to focus on becoming more accessible and available to everybody,” she says. “Even though my product is very home-style and top-notch, I don’t like the idea of being exclusive in any way. I’ve really tried to put my brand in places where people would least expect it. I think everybody should be able to afford – and have at their fingertips – beautiful food.”
“I’ve really spread my wings, and it’s really exciting to sell my product into volume markets,” she adds.
According to Simmone, the product is set apart in those markets by the company’s “natural, wholesome approach.”
“The most important thing that I’ve done within my business is protect the integrity of the brand,” she says. “I’ve never diverted from what my original ethos was – and that’s about comfort, about nurturing, and about having people trust what I do. I want them to be able to put the food on their tables at home, and know that it’s been made – even though it’s a cliché – with love.”
Even though Simmone Logue Fine Food Company makes more than 5,500 250-gram pies per day, Simmone says they still stir the pot when making the filling.
“When people put it in their mouth, they taste the difference,” she says. “I feel I’ve done a great job in protecting that. We all feel the pressure of the economics of business, but I’ve always stuck to my guns that way. I think that’s really paid off.”
Simmone thinks this philosophy has proven particularly important in recent years, as cooking television shows have become popular around the world, and the “Foodie Revolution” has gained momentum.
“I think the consumers’ expectations have really changed,” she says. “Now they want to walk into their supermarket, and they want a more rustic, home-style product to put in their trolley. That’s what Simmone Logue Fine Food is all about.”
Building a family
In order to practice their philosophy of making food with love, Simmone Logue Fine Food Company can’t go it alone. They also have to rely on their suppliers – many of whom Simmone herself has been working with since the beginning.
“I think loyalty is very important,” she says. “Karmee Coffee, for example – I’ve been buying from them for 20 years. The same with our meat suppliers. These companies have all grown with me, which is so exciting. As my clients grow, I grow, and as I grow, my suppliers grow.”
Simmone describes her relationship those suppliers – and others, including Northpak –as very transparent. She credits their longevity to their mutual willingness to communicate.
“If there’s an issue, we just talk about it,” she says. “I think that’s the best way to go about business. It’s great to have longevity, because it’s like building a family.”
“I’m like that with my staff as well,” she adds. “They have so much knowledge of the business, because they’ve been here so long. It’s the same thing with suppliers. They work harder for you if you show your loyalty.”
Moving forward, Simmone says she wants to maintain those tight-knit relationships, and would like to continue to grow the company grow alongside her staff and suppliers.
“I’m very proud of the brand, and I think we’re going from strength to strength,” she says. “We’re still a young and dynamic company, and I’m really enjoying myself 20 years on. I still have the fire in the belly that I’ve always had.”