The Wondersnack Co Melbourne
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Wondersnacks

Issue 07

After leaving the world of cake and butter cream behind, Melbourne based Christy Loekito is tackling the world of gourmet snacks. The Wondersnack Co., which Loekito launched in 2012, offers four small batch bar snacks with a twist. She pools together local ingredients to create her unusual blends with names like The Hangover, Bourbon & Bacon and Kamikaze.

Last year Loekito also collaborated on a summer seasonal snack with LuxBite, a popular café and patisserie in the city. To evoke the most iconic flavours of Australia and New Zealand in a bag, they developed a bag that combines sugared almonds and cashews, pineapple jubes, candied ginger, strawberry marshmallows and lemon peel.

The Wondersnack Co Melbourne

INTERVIEW: Christy Loekito, Owner, The Wondersnack Co. {Melbourne}

01 Where are you based?
I’m based mostly out of the Central Business District in Melbourne. This is not by choice as my office is also my home! However I do consider myself very lucky to be situated at such a central location.

The manufacturing side takes place at an incubator kitchen in Bentleigh, which is a suburb 13 km south-east of the CBD. I moved here last year after manufacturing out of my domestic kitchen became a bit too full on. I chose this over other spaces available for lease due to the community aspect—I get to meet many other small start-up food businesses, and as a group, we were able to pool together our resources and knowledge to help each other out.

02 How did you get into this business in the first place? 
I used to run a cake stall at the farmers markets on the weekend over 2 years before starting The Wondersnack Co. in 2012. That came about through a couple of years’ work as a dessert/pastry cook, and a baking blog that I used to own to document my trials and tribulations in the sweet kitchen.

I got married at the beginning of 2012, and towards the end of 2011, my husband and I began talking in earnest about the direction in which to take our business—it was either set up a brick and mortar cake shop, or do something else. At that time, I have spent a few years working in the retail industry, and noticed that there seems to be a gap for small-batch gourmet snacks that taste out of this world.

The Wondersnack Co Melbourne

03 Why snacks?
I’ve always been the type of person who eats five small meals a day—I can’t stomach much in one sitting, so I’m always on the lookout for something to nibble on between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner.

From a business perspective, apart from the market gap I mentioned, I wanted to create something that is easily scaleable, can be transported easily (does not require refrigeration or extreme care in handling), and has a decent shelf life.

04 When did you launch?
September 2012. We started off with 8 stockists who all pre-ordered prior to the launch. It was a proud moment, after almost a year of recipe testing and preparation.

05 Is there a story behind the name, Wondersnack?
The original name I wanted was Snack Inc., but it turned out that it was too close to another existing business name. I knew I wanted all of our snacks to taste wonderful, and I wanted a catchy name, so Wondersnacks it is.

06 How many types of snacks do you currently have?  
We currently have four main lines, with one seasonal snack that we developed in collaboration with a dessert boutique, Luxbite. I have been experimenting with some new flavours, and will hopefully launch two new snacks this year.

07 What is the process involved in developing a new flavour?
This is a hard one! I come from a design background (before I plunged head first into the world of food), so I can go on forever! I find that most of the time, ideas come easily but the time required to test and develop them are hard to come by. After I’ve worked out what flavour/ main ingredients I want to work with, I’d usually start by brainstorming the components- namely what I think would work well in it. Then it’s test, test, test and test again until I’m happy. And then I test it again, just to be safe.

The next step is to get feedback from my trusted friends who I know will tell me like it is. It can be a fairly soul crushing process getting knocked back on something you’ve created and worked so hard on, but I am very lucky to have people who care enough about what I do that they want to give me their honest feedback. We all live in a busy world and most of the time, it’s just too easy for people to say ‘oh it’s delicious-thanks for the samples!’ than go into the details.

The Wondersnack Co Melbourne
Photo Source: Christy Loekito

08 What is the most unusual flavour combination you have ever created?
I’d say it’s the Bourbon and Bacon Popcorn on the name, but I think The Hangover—a combination of bacon fat, worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, and spices from a recipe development perspective.

09 Why did you choose to use local ingredients?
For me it’s very much about supporting local producers who are making quality products. It’s also about having a relationship with the producers, some of which are the most amazing, hard working individuals I’ve ever met. To be honest, we would love to be in the position of using even more local ingredients, but from a pricing point, we have to take into consideration what customers are willing to pay for snack products.

10 Do you entertain at home? 
I rarely entertain at home because all of my time is taken up running and growing the business. However, when I do entertain, it’s usually for smaller groups of good friends. My favourite casual gatherings of larger groups is to call pot luck, because then there’s a lot less pressure on me, and most guests would generally offer to bring something anyway.

For smaller, more intimate gatherings, I would often make most of the meal myself. Coming from a baking background, dessert usually is the easiest course. For mains, I like to cook what my guests like to eat, be it spaghetti and meatballs or a French fish stew. Salads are usually thrown together with whatever’s in best and in season.

I don’t know that I have a particular style that I go for when I entertain, but I do have a number of cake stands/serving boards/platters from my farmers market days which I have kept. They usually come in handy. The rest is a mish mash of bought, found, and gifted objects.

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