Mayonnaise belongs to the must-have preserves stored in the kitchen cabinet. In my memory, as a child, this is one of the first things I had learnt to make in my grandma’s kitchen, along with whipping cream, cutting ends off green beans and shelling peas. Safe, simple, but off-putting chores, perfect to be handed over to children. Now that I’m getting older, I’d rather have someone else performing the task. Particularly when tasting the sweet, dull industrial version of mayonnaise filled with preservatives that drives me to despair.
So, when necessary, for instance with prawns, I would rather have a delicious genuine hand-made mayonnaise. That statement of fact is roughly what led Sarah Ross to start producing her homemade brand. Sarah once dreamt of being an actress, “but I lacked the killer instinct” and changed her mind. She got into recruitment and marketing in Sydney, before building her own family company, through chance and a love of food. “My mother, who is English, was a good cook and always made her own mayonnaise. The bottled industrial one is made with sweet condensed milk, nothing to compare with the more savoury European one, using free-range eggs, mustard and quality sunflower oil, without added water or preservatives. I started to make some for my husband (who works in finance). Then, because I was passionate about the product and encouraged by my husband, we went to the Sydney market, and the stock was sold out in a short time! People loved it. I remembered this little girl, licking her fingers when she tasted the mayonnaise” That was in 2000.
The family was living on a country property in the Southern Highlands south of Sydney. They decided to name the brand Doodles Creek after the pristine spring fed creek that ran through their farm. From then on, the small company grew up. “In 120 days, I reached a production of 120 jars a day. That became too heavy to handle in a family kitchen. We found a manufacturer who could manage the quantities, still keeping the quality. Now, altogether, we produce 120,000 jars a year.” This includes different kinds of mayonnaises, relishes, and the most recent addition, tomato pasta sauce. One of the bestsellers is the aioli, delicious with … prawns and sea-food. Living in a small community with a strong sense of solidarity helped them a lot.
When she started, she was the first and sole producer. This has changed. “I was lucky. Today for someone to start, it would be much harder. But it is also flattering to have competitors.”
Recently, the family has relocated to Sydney to secure the education of their children, now teenagers. Still, Sarah develops new products in her kitchen. Next step is to work out her perfect strawberry jam. Her three children are the jury, a very tough and uncompromising panel who are part of the success.