Five minutes with Pierre Issa of Pepe Saya Butter Co.

29 March, 2016 by
Aoife Boothroyd

When you think of butter, it’s hard not to conjure up an image of the striking Pepe Saya caricature. The sketched character with a protruding nose and raised eyebrows – the alter-ego of Pepe Saya’s founder, Pierre Issa – is now synonymous with top quality artisan, cultured butter.

From humble beginnings, Issa’s business has grown dramatically over its five year lifespan, and today supplies some of the nation’s best chefs and kitchens, along with Qantas’ business class cabin.  

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Hospitality recently caught up with Issa about his business and what he believes makes cultured butter so special.

The establishments that buy our product are buying Pepe Saya because of the quality, so they have a great understanding of what the customer is looking for when dining out. Customers aren’t booking a table at a particular restaurant because they serve Pepe Saya butter; they’re booking that table based on the reputation of the establishment. I see our product as part of that great experience, and once people started understanding this in more detail, our phone started ringing. At this present time foodservice makes up approximately 70 percent of Pepe Saya Butter Co.’s total revenue, the other 30 percent is shared between online, retail and our farmers markets.

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The best part of the job is definitely the people you meet. My team is a big part of my day to day life. Also our customers, the great chefs we deal with, and the farmers that give us the milk to make our products. I’m not a chef; I focus all my creative energy on producing one product and trying my best to do it well, however I am constantly blown away by the creative talent of the chefs I meet around Australia.

Pepe Saya is the ultimate butter to cook with, and not just serve with bread. When you heat cultured butter the flavours are released… this is something that most chefs don’t know. The butter is also perfect for pastry. The pastry chefs that are currently using it and succeeding have had to alter the recipe slightly to adjust to different water activity in the butter.

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It’s really all about cream for me, the fatty part of milk, how to preserve it and how to make the fat taste good. The best dish I’ve eaten using the butter is fresh scallops in filo pastry. Add truffle into the mix and you have a taste of heaven.

The main aim over the next 12 months is to refine what we have achieved, serve our customers well, maintain a high quality product, and most importantly be profitable so we can build on the strong foundations we have in place already. We have an exciting pop–up store coming to Sydney around Easter which will showcase some interesting flavoured butters and give us a chance to engage with customers directly.

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