WHEN it comes to a dream job many of us would like to consider our true calling lies in gastronomy; spending all day doing something considered an extravagance – wine tasting, food critique … or ice cream connoisseur.
Someone who doesn’t need to dream is Stuart Johnson, the R&D guru at Peters and Brownes.
His role as general manager of technology involves ingesting half a litre of ice cream a day and scouring the world for premium ingredients to develop the next great flavour variety for the Connoisseur ice-cream range.
Mr Johnson’s job is one of premium ice cream appreciation and dedication to a product that has won numerous awards (the most recent of which was Connoisseur Strawberry Stravaganza ice cream’s grand champion prize at the Australian Grand Diary Awards).
Mr Johnson says the aim of the Connoisseur range is to provide the best ice cream to consumers. Naturally that means crisscrossing the globe for the best ingredients.
“We wanted to make an ice cream that was the best. There would be nothing better that consumers could get,” Mr Johnson says. We made it here in Balcatta and it is now sold across Australia and has been overseas at different times.
“I’ve been to Paris to get the best vanilla … we get Kensington mangoes from Queensland.”
There are six varieties to be found on the supermarket shelves but all up there have been 20 to 30 flavours produced.
But just who decides what flavours hit the shelves and which need more work?
“The guys who work in the factory are really quite fussy. When we do a factory trial and everyone has a try,” Mr Johnson says. “When they come back two or three times we know we’ve picked a good one.”
The process of producing a Connoisseur ice cream is twice as long as it is for the other Peters and Brownes product development, he says.
“It is the most fun. But it is usually two years from an idea to being on sale,” Mr Johnson says.
And tasting ice cream every day hasn’t at all stopped him from enjoying a good scoop or two.
“It is not one of those foods that if you work with it you stop eating it. You just get fussier about it,” Mr Johnson says.
“I would taste about 10 products a day. I probably eat about a half a litre of ice cream a day.”
And what about ice cream disasters? Is there such a thing?
“Some times you have flavours that are polarising. We had a cherry ice cream with maraschino cherries they were matured in barrels in Italy and I thought they would be fantastic, but it didn’t sell well. People thought it tasted like marzipan,” Mr Johnson says.
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