Dish: Congratulations on reaching such an exciting milestone, what are you most proud of when it comes to Sabato reaching a quarter century?
Jacqui: "Our customers still love so many of our original products, as much as ever – they have stood the test of time well and truly, while also growing a new appreciation from a younger generation.
A lot has no doubt changed in the past 2 decades, what has been the most significant development?
"People are certainly much more aware of what they eat so the artisan bespoke products we have always championed are now much more widely sought as a preferred choice, while poor quality processed food is increasingly out of favour. We have grown our organic offering in recent years and have a great range of products including our Girolomoni pastas and grains and our own Sabato range of pasta sauces."
Tell us about your shared love of food…
"We both love honest, good quality ingredients used simply, so all the flavours can be appreciated. We travelled to Europe, fell in love with these amazing ingredients and this coincided with Phil feeling like he would like to leave the corporate world. We decided that this was a perfect opportunity to work together doing something we both felt passionately about, and Sabato came about as a result.
You’ve collaborated with some notable Kiwi chefs over the past 25 years, any stand-outs that come to mind?
"These chefs have been so supportive of what we have created with Sabato. There are too many to name individually, however, when we travel we feel that New Zealand chefs are just as talented as any of their European contemporaries."
If you could give every home cook in the country three hero products from the Sabato range, what would they be and why?
"Just three is a very hard choice! Rustichella Pasta, Lemon-infused Colonna Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO) and Giusti Aged Balsamic Vinegar. The recipients will be familiar with these pantry staples of pasta, oil and vinegar and will use them regularly, so when they cook with the Sabato versions they will certainly taste the difference."
What is the best piece of advice you’d offer a couple going in to business together?
"You need to have your own skills and areas of expertise and respect these. You should continue to value and appreciate what you both bring to your business."
What do you think sets Sabato apart, as both a business and a brand?
"Longevity, commitment to quality, investment in relationships (suppliers and staff) and long-term vision. We have always known that we had to educate and empower our customers with knowledge about our products. To create this we have assumed a generous style of retailing featuring in-store tasting samples, complimentary recipe cards, good coffee, in-store cooking demonstrations – this has been the only way to ensure our customers can taste the difference."
What’s your go-to weeknight recipe…
"This varies considerably with the seasons; however, a pasta dish or a Ferron risotto are regular favourites. At the moment we love lamb cutlets from New World, Victoria Park, marinated in EVO, La Chinata smoked paprika flakes and drained Romulo capers – tossed into a very hot pan until cutlets are cooked and capers crisp."
Who is your favourite person to cook for and why?
"Our children – Thomas lives nearby in Auckland and he loves to come home for family dinner. While yearly visits from Helen, who lives in London are greatly anticipated. They were both very young when we started Sabato and are great ambassadors for the products our family loves."
Favourite overseas food experience…
"There have been so many outstanding food experiences. Every year we return to a little restaurant owned by two brothers in Barolo, Italy, called La Cantinetta, this is an absolute favourite of ours – we love the simple, regional style of dishes that they produce so well."
Go-to date night restaurant/bar or eatery?
"We are so spoilt for choice in Auckland, we love to eat at the restaurants we supply because we continue to be delighted, and surprised, by the way these talented chefs use our ingredients."
Where in the world have you never been but is on your bucket list?
"We always travel to countries that have beautiful food and wine as this enhances our enjoyment of the travel experience so much. Surprisingly, we have yet to explore Portugal and plan to visit this year."
To learn more about Sabato or to shop their extensive range online, see their website here.