Anyone can have an idea, but turning that idea into a reality and a thriving business is another story.
In 2019, sick of filling their kid's lunchboxes with sugar-laden, pre-packaged foods, Lisa Ratahi and Rachel Bernhardi had an idea and 18 months later, through courage, determination, and many a late night, their idea became a reality. Nine months on and their business now employs two locals and supplies crackers to shops and delis from one end of the country to the other. These are two women on a mission, motivated to bring their customers snacks which are not only healthier but which taste damn good too. And there is little doubt they are suceeding in their mission.
A foodie since childhood, Rachel muses on the hours she spent in her parents kitchen as a pre-teen, mixing and mashing, basting and boiling and serving the spoils to her parents and their friends. It was here she began to hone her skills and fine-tune her palatte and Lisa thinks she should have backed herself in a foodie persuit long before Mister K Crackers. Lisa on the other hand will be the first to admit that cooking is not her thing, however good, nutritious food is, and here-in lies their shared-passion.
In the 18 months it took to bring their product to market the pair undertook extensive research, taste-testing their way through countless crackers from all corners of the world. The process opened their eyes to alternative flours and for them also served to identiy that there was a real gap in the market. A gap for a low-carb, nutrious product that is 'Actually Yum' as the tag-line on every packet of Mister K Crakers reads.
Next Rachel took to the kitchen to put the theory into practice and her foodie skills to the test. Making a deliberate choice to chose low-carb flours for the crackers meant many hours of experimentation.
Almond flour went stale too quickly and coconut flour rancid. It was lupin flour that eventually ticked all the boxes and which pleasingly worked to compliment the flavours of the seeds which also form the base of their product. The lupins are grown and milled in Australia and are shipped here by the pallet-load at an eye-watering cost but one which they believe is necessary to delivering a quality product.
The duo contribute their success to being able to set up manufacturing in a converted shed on Lisa's property in South Taranaki, which enables them to work around their young families. Additionally they reflect on the gratitutde they feel for their support network who guide and encourage them on their journey. They claim they 'went into business blind' and muse that if they'd known everything about business then that they do now they probably wouldn't have ventured down this path in the first place.
At the heart of Mister K Crackers and what sets their product apart from the competition is the handmade process by which the crackers are made. Each batch is made by hand and every tray of crackers is closely monitored during cooking to make sure they are perfectly golden brown with just the right snap. They are made with care and attention and a healthy dose of love.
And so it is that this backyard side-gig tucked away in a shed in rural Taranaki has taken flight and is feeding and nourishing customers the country over. Perhaps this a case of a side-gig turning into an end-gig. Anything is possible in Taranaki - watch this space!
6 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
dukkah, to serve
parsley, to serve
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Peel the carrots and cut off their tops and ends. Cut each carrot in half, and then into quarters so you end up with 8 carrot sticks. Place into an oven-proof dish or roasting pan and pour over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add in the garlic cloved, place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, squeeze the garlic from its skins and place into a food processor along with the carrots and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of dukkah and a scattering of parsley if desired. Serve with Mister K Crackers.