Rozendal Vinaigrier Nathalie Amman answers some questions about the serendipitous meeting with the guys behind the FOOA Food label.
Who are Tomo and Kenji and how did you meet?
We met at Japan Foodex 2011. Tomo didn’t know anything about vinegar at that stage, but was handed some to taste by our enthusiastic assistant, who introduced it with the words, “this is the best vinegar in the world”. Travelling back on the tube on the last day of the trade show, in the ever-crowded Tokyo, we found ourselves by chance sharing the carriage with Tomo. It was him that recognised us – he had loved the stand – and we exchanged business cards. Shortly afterwards he ordered a couple of cases – our first customer in Japan.
Tomo – a real Renaissance man – formed this company together with Kenji, and they specialise in well-made, ethical food products, importing and distributing fine food products to Tokyo. The name “Fooa” is the sound you make when you eat something really good!
What was the Chum Apartment event?
They got excited when they heard we’re coming this year, and organised the Chum tasting event. Chum Apartment is an off-beat, beautiful venue, quite a large space by Japanese standards, and it set the scene for the tasting event to which hip, eager-to-learn people were invited.
Tomo and Kenji are friends with one of the top chefs in Tokyo, who works in lot of pop-up restaurants, and they got him to come up with four different tasters, giving an Asian twist to our vinegar offerings.
These were an appetiser of Fynobs jelly with avocado mousse and chicken, a pickle (in Japanese food you always have a pickle), a fish taster, and a spring roll and rice taster.
A product from South Africa is very intriguing to people, so it was a great success. We showed our Youtube video, and people asked questions (with the aid of a translator). We learnt from the event – it was a nice way to introduce people to the product. It also allowed for great networking, and two interviews came from that, for Ecologics Magazine and a health newspaper.
What does FOOA Food bring to your vinegar?
Tomo really understands the product – he’s a brand ambassador – and wants to bring the Rozendal message to Tokyo. He connects with our philosophy, and even wants to come over to South Africa to see how it’s made. That’s the ideal – it’s important that you have that connection with your importer – it positions the product properly and makes for a rewarding experience and a lasting brand.
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