Food banter with Milton Fruit Bowl
26 Oct 2015
When Chris and Charlie took over the Milton Fruit Bowl just over a year ago, they had quite a reputation to live up to. With over 40 years of providing only the freshest local produce to customers behind it, the fruit and vegetable store had plenty of regulars who wouldn’t have been impressed with anything but the crispest asparagus and juiciest tomatoes. Luckily, the duo were more than up to the challenge, and have even made a few changes to the offering at the store that have been welcomed by their customers. More niche local products have appeared and fruit platters and Christmas hampers are available to make getting in that 5 and 2 a day easier than ever, along with fruit and veg delivery to the surrounding suburbs. With a passion for what they do evident in every aspect of the store, and some seriously amazing skills at making the most their small space (it’s Ikea level organisation in there!), Chris and Charlie plan on ensuring Milton Fruit Bowl is around for another 40 years. They took some time to chat with us about how they make sure only the freshest produce winds up on their shelves. How did you both come to be running a fruit and veg shop? Charlie: It’s in my blood, my parents owned a fruit and vegetable shop. My career started at a very young age when I would sit in an empty apple box watching my parents work. Chris: I’ve basically been in sales all my life. With a family background in food retail, when this opportunity presented itself it seemed like it was my turn to go out and do something for myself. What does a typical day at work involve for you, besides “Full on!” Charlie: My day starts at the fruit and veg markets where I fight my way through the hustlers and dodge a few forklifts, then head over to the flower markets to smell the roses, before it’s back to the shop where the magic happens. Chris: Up at 4.30am, at work by 5.30am to set the shop up, process any incoming stock, position seasonal products, place orders for the following day and make the environment as fun and welcoming as possible. Business shuts at 7pm, then home for dinner and family time. Of course it’s not like this every day. We believe in having a balance. It’s like this 4 out of 7 days a week. Are there any local producers or suppliers that are really inspiring you at the moment? Stephens Tasmanian Honey. They are a family owned business who produce a uniquely flavoured honey from leatherwood trees. It’s only produced in Tasmania and we are the only suppliers of their full range in Queensland. What do you love most about your job? Charlie: I genuinely get a great deal of satisfaction out of providing our customers with the freshest and tastiest fruit and veg and offering my knowledge and advice to help them choose their produce. I also really enjoy the relationship we have with our customers. Chris: For me it’s a number of things. The freedom of being self-employed and in charge of my own future. Also, engaging with our regulars week-to-week catching up on all the gossip – we really are a part of their everyday lives. And there is nothing more satisfying than putting in a hard week’s effort and it all being worth it at the end of it. What inspired your love of food? Charlie: My Mum. Chris: I’ve always been around food with my Greek background. Everything we do as a culture and as a family includes the ceremony of food. If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? (We’d totally be a banana – they’re so a-peeling!) Charlie: A mango! It’s the rock star of the fruit world. People wait all year for it to come, they love it and cannot get enough of it when it is here and everyone is so sad when it’s gone. Chris: Avocado. It literally goes with everything. We agree! If we took a peek in your fridge at home, what would we find? Charlie: Lots of Milton Fruit Bowl products, fruit and vegetables of course, Greek yoghurt, Papa Joe’s Banana bread (my kids love the stuff), McGrath Dressings, olives and small goods and just the other usual stuff. Chris: Avocados, apples, all types of berries, stone fruit and melons, lots of greens (all supplied by the best fruit shop in Brisbane of course). Plenty of dairy and lots of leftovers from our dinners and our parents’ dinners. What do you think of the Brisbane food scene right now? Charlie: I am loving the small suburban boutique cafes that serve home cooked style meals and use lots of fresh ingredients that are full of flavour. Chris: There’s more and more alternative sites opening with all the new development. It’s exciting to see more dynamic cuisines joining the scene. Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Brisbane? Charlie: Pawpaw Café at Woolloongabba. It was a casual lunch but they have a great menu and the food was delicious. Chris: Madame Wu, great food and the service was impeccable. Where do you think is Brisbane’s best kept foodie secret (apart from Milton Fruit Bowl)? The Fishery at Milton. The team are always helpful, their knowledge and their products makes planning for dinner so easy. You’ll find Milton Fruit Bowl at 36 Baroona Road, Milton, open 7 days a week.