Paddock to Market to Plate


The market benefits everyone. Our wonderful shoppers get to meet the makers, sample the food and be the first to find innovative new design. Canberra benefits because we’re bringing people into town from interstate, drawn to the excitement of the event. And of course, the traders benefit from crowds of happy shoppers, allowing them to make a living from what they create.

But there’s an unexpected way in which one of our favourite producers benefits. Pialligo Estate Smokehouse, much like Handmade, is a Canberra institution. Based on a beautiful farm close the centre of Canberra, The Smokehouse locally sources, smokes, cures and serves its own meats. Pialligo is a multi award winning producer, using its submissions as inspiration to continually strive for improvement and innovation.


And this innovation extends to the Handmade Market, which has become a regular testing ground for Pialligo’s new products and flavours. We talked to Fiona Braid about the strategy to use Handmade’s customers as tasting experts. Says Fiona “we started to throw products out there to get feedback about a year ago. It made perfect sense to test the flavours and receive direct responses to what we were doing.” And unsurprisingly, each product has been met with enthusiasm. The first to be trialled was the lamb, rosemary, mint and honey sausage. This needed no adjustments before being taken to retail. Now stocked in shops around Canberra and in Sydney, its early trial at Handmade has led to the flavour being a permanent favourite.

Continuing the theme of sausages, the gourmet pork and truffle version was next up. This again was received very positively. And the smoked kingfish and duck prosciutto, other regular products, began their life at the Market.


Christmas products are important to Pialligo, not least the smoked turkey trialled at the September market. “Interestingly,” continues Fiona, “we had some good feedback about the seasoning. So we adapted the level of pepper down to satisfy the Handmade customers.” It will be on sale in its final format at the December Market.

Also on sale in December, the Christmas ham (available to order on the website) and some delicious hampers packed with Pialligo’s signature products. Fiona is excited about another market but can’t tell us whether there are new products for us to taste.”You never know what’s going to be ready,” she says. “There’s always something going on!”

Like the Handmade team, Fiona is enthusiastic about the local food and drink scene. “Canberra is a bit of a food mecca, with diversity in food, wine, spirits and other drinks, and everyone is keen to support local.” Before leaving Fiona to her Christmas planning, we asked her what she likes best about the season. “Just sleep! After the craziness of December, it’ll be good to have a break.”

You can find Pialligo in the Coorong Paviion at EPIC, 6, 7 & 8 December at the Handmade Market.