Fourth generation keeps it fresh

Last updated 10:31 02/02/2013
Julie Moore
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

FOURTH GENERATION: Julie Moore co-owns Moore Wilson's with her dad, Graeme.

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Julie Moore, 42, co-owns the specialist food store Moore Wilson's, alongside dad Graeme.

Together, they won the business category at the Wellingtonian of the Year awards. Founded in 1918 as a general wholesale merchant, the family business now has stores in Masterton, Porirua and Lower Hutt, as well as its flagship Tory St store.

Ms Moore lives with her husband Chris, and their children Toby, 11, and Sophie, 9, in the eastern suburbs.

Were you always going to be involved in running the family business?

I'm the fourth generation. There wasn't that conscious decision to keep it [family-owned], but that's just the way it's evolved. I always had an interest in and passion for food. I worked quite a bit in hospitality, did some management training, and then I got involved in my early 20s and continued from there. My father runs the business, and I work with him, and my brother is the manager of business as well. Both he and I are very involved and want to continue to be a part of it.

How has the focus of the business changed?

It's evolved quite considerably from a general wholesaler to being quite food service-oriented. All businesses need to keep moving forward, and we recognised we should move into the area of fresh food. We travelled, and looked at lots of stores, and came up with the concept of the Moore Wilson's Fresh component [in the Tory St, Porirua and Masterton stores] about 13 years ago. In the early days, we based it on the Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's in America. It's been very successful. We've tried to make it about the experience - not the chore of shopping. It's something people enjoy.

The Christmas holiday period must be the busiest time of year for you.

It is, from both a food service and a retail perspective. We start preparation early on, so there's a lot of work happening in the months before. But from a Fresh perspective, it's a very short intense period - the week before Christmas, almost. There are definitely trends. Sales of the fresh, free-range turkeys are still very strong, but [last year] there was also quite a strong movement towards duck, away from the traditional lamb, beef, ham, turkey, seafood area.

And what did you serve at Christmas?

My husband cooked a whole suckling pig in our pizza oven. It was fun. We hadn't done a suckling pig before. It was beautiful. We had that and a little bit of nice seafood - whitebait. A few treats. It was fairly relaxed. We don't do a particularly formal Christmas, because we have a very intense period leading up to it. It's a nice, relaxed, low-key day.

What do you have in store for Moore Wilson's in 2013?

Something new we did last year was selling free-range, organic rotisserie chickens from the Chook Wagon on our site. We had a bit of fun with it. We had an old Citroen food truck fitted out with a proper French rotisol oven, and we kept it in the upper College St car park, and cooked and sold chooks out of it. People could see them cooking. In the supermarkets, they're just cooked in convection ovens. So we want to develop that. We've also got some new ideas for the wine side of our business - and just to continue to keep our Fresh store interesting and alive. We're always on the look-out for new, quality products with a point of difference.

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What chefs do you admire?

Kylie Kwong and Martin Boetz are great Australian chefs. Frank Camorra is another. Frank's got multiple restaurants now but his first, MoVida in Melbourne, is a fantastic concept. The few times I've been it's been such an amazing experience. If you're talking about a Wellington chef, I think Jacob Brown of The Larder in Miramar is very talented and certainly someone who will go somewhere. We're lucky - we've got some very talented people.

Where do you eat out in Wellington?

The Larder would be one. Beijing Restaurant in Newtown is very much a family favourite - my children love it. I like Capitol [on Kent Tce]. There's a few ethnic ones - Siem Reap, the Cambodian one on Dixon St, is great. Those are certainly favourites. And for cafes, Deluxe and Caffe L'Affare are close, but Floriditas, Nikau Cafe and Maranui are great.

What was the last book you read?

I read about three or four books on holiday: Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen; Kitchen Diaries 2 by Nigel Slater; and The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory.

What was the last film you saw?

Life of Pi. I really enjoyed it. I haven't read the book, but everyone says it's good. That's generally the case with movies, isn't it?

Pinot noir or Tui?

Oh, pinot noir. [Laughs] Truly. What a choice.

Interview: ELLE HUNT

- The Dominion Post

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