By S Haslam
Sometimes being groomed to inherit the family business can seem like both a burden and a privilege. But Antoine Quezel, who had first ‘helped out’ as a kid, was quite looking forward to taking over his parents’ famous market stall in Provence.
However, a trip to Australia derailed his destiny, when he felt an immediate connection to his first stop, Byron. Whilst Antoine jokes that surfing is interrupting his business’s growth, it didn’t take long before he’d set up his own market stall here at Bangalow monthly market. Using his family recipes, and skills in brining, marinating and spicing food to make dips and tapenades he learned in Provence, Antoine found Byron Bay Olives were a huge hit from day one.
‘It just felt really natural to me, I’ve grown up perfecting the recipes’, says Antoine, now sitting a few years later in his delightful shopfront on the roundabout opposite Bunnings in the A&I Estate.
There you can get authentic and hard-to-source French cheeses. ‘We try to keep the quality really high, we are a specialist showcase of French cheeses and if customers want something, we can order it through our suppliers,’ he says.
They also have unique local produce (free from preservatives and chemicals) such as his olives, an olive tapenade that is truly sensational, olive oil that comes from a NSW organic farmer, and if you feel like combining them with a locally baked ciabatta, you can eat a wonderful takeaway lunch there with a coffee from the grocer next door.
‘I try to make everything myself, just working with the famers I want’, says Antoine, ‘in particular I use a very traditional, in fact ancient Mediterranean, way of brining the olives.’
The olive tapenade (which is vegan) has a very warm and full flavour, and it goes well on bread, pasta, as a vinaigrette, with parmesan, in scrambled egg or omelets for example! They do sometimes make a traditional anchovy tapenade just for the shop as well.
A truly exceptional product is the ‘sweet garlic’. Made by a process of pickling and fermenting, the sharpness of the Spanish garlic is removed. ‘It was just an experiment at first’, says Antoine, ‘but after the first week we were blowing people’s minds. I was not expecting at all such feedback.
‘We are getting people from Melbourne and Sydney who have never tried a product like this. In fact we are now employing quite a few people, and shipping product from our factory out the back of the Byron shopfront, throughout the Northern Rivers, and now with our distributors we are spreading to all over Australia.’
‘We use very traditional and ancient methods of preparing our food, and both locals and visitors enjoy this organic, healthy and unique nature of our food. I’m really pleased to be here in Byron because I love it here, and we are loving the feedback.’
Byron Bay Olive Co. 2/29 Brigantine St, Byron Bay. www.byronbayolivescompany.com