A Day in Carman’s Kitchen
Recently, we chatted about the history of muesli. As a lover of this favorite breakfast dish in all its forms, I was interested to find out muesli was actually introduced into hospitals by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner in 1900. Over his career, Bircher-Benner realised that patients needed a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Because of this, the doctor devised a dish that could be served with a lot of apples! Muesli was, therefore, called the “apple diet dish” or Apfeldiätspeise. The muesli itself would carry the fresh fruit, and was inspired by a humble meal he and his wife had once eaten whilst hiking in the Swiss Alps. This original recipe was simply a small amount of oat flakes and water with chopped apples, lemon juice, condensed milk or cream, honey and chopped nuts.
Since, muesli has evolved in many ways. Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit the kitchen of one of muesli’s most famous developers in Australia, Carolyn Creswell of Carman’s. Famous for her varieties of muesli and health food bars, Carolyn’s story is an inspiration. She founded the business in 1992 when she was just 18 year old! In her first year of university, she made the entrepreneurial decision to buy the small muesli business where she worked part-time for $1,000, and started to supply her products to a few cafes and delis around Melbourne: “It’s amazing where life can lead you…One day I was told that I was to lose my job as the business was to be sold. I immediately thought, ‘You could buy this little business! You love the muesli and you make it already!’”. Once she’d secured the business, she ran it in and around her studies, making deliveries before morning lectures and balancing the books in the library during lunch breaks. What an inspiration! So how did she do it you might ask? Her positive and people-focused attitude in infectious and she adopts a business model that embraces change, reflects her customers’ wishes and loves the work process wholeheartedly.
Since, Carman’s has grown out of sight. The company’s full gourmet range is available in all major supermarkets across Australia, as well as being exported to many countries around the world. In the kitchen yesterday, I asked Carolyn a few personal questions about her connection to healthy food, especially muesli. She recalls her most memorable bowl of breakfast food as the one she ate as a child: perched up on a chair so she could reach, she helped her grandfather stir the porridge on the stove with a wooden spoon. She also mentioned that she loves having bircher muesli ready and waiting in the fridge, as it makes a great after-school snack for the kids and is very healthy and nutritious. As a lover of slow, healthy food myself, it was a wonderful experience to meet Carolyn and hear some inside information about the food she loves to eat herself and how she started her amazing enterprise. As there is a definite marriage between honey and muesli, Carman’s products will always be a staple in my own pantry.