Interview with Shimon Weizman of Momentum Foods – Simply Wize.
Alicia Smith is an artist from Western Australia who has many coeliac friends and who enjoys a coeliac diet with her husband, who was diagnosed with coeliac disease last year. Alicia intends to develop a series of email interviews with local and overseas Gluten Free food manufacturers with a view to raising awareness of just what is out there and what is coming up.
Alicia has no affiliation with any of the companies that she reviews and does not solicit any compensation and is not sponsored. If the product appears here, it is because I have bought it, tried it and think that it's worth commenting on.
Shimon Weizman of Momentum Foods - Simply Wize is a coeliac with two coeliac daughters, so he knows what he is on about in a quest for the best GF product you can get. For him, it is all about the best product that you can make, the taste, the texture and the appearance.
You only have to talk to him for a little while to realise that here is a man who is genuinely impassioned about his work, and his food!
Previously Shimon took his vast experience from working on Eskal and a few months ago created a new company with a view to raise the bar on gluten free bread products.
I spoke to him briefly at the Western Australian Gluten Free Expo, which was a little difficult as his stall was very crowded with exultant tasters, as the bread was so good! Recently he invited me to call him at his Melbourne based office, and we chatted for a bit before settling down to an email interview.
Alicia: The Simply "Wize" brand, is that a play on words for your surname? Whose idea was that?
Shimon: I have 3 daughters, 2 of whom are coeliac. We were brainstorming names for the new brand and one daughter suggested using the ‘Wise’ from Weizman and after a bit more brainstorming the other daughter suggested the ‘Simply’.
Alicia: What got you thinking about starting up this company?
Shimon : As a person with gluten intolerance and having two children who are also coeliac, I am very in tune with the needs of people in this market. I also developed the Eskal brand which is now considered a household brand.
The staff at Momentum Foods - Simply Wize at their award winning stand at the Western Australian Gluten Free Expo.
Alicia:The Simply Wize brand has just won the award for the best stand at the Western Australian Gluten Free Show 2010 - this is very impressive for such a brand new company. What do you think the judges liked so much about your stand?
Shimon: Our logo design is fresh, bright and modern. Our large banners displaying this, together with our innovative stand set up obviously won over the judges.
Alicia: As it's been announced that you are the major sponsor of the Coeliac Society's Gluten Free Expo in Sydney in August you will obviously have a display there. Will you be at any other Gluten Free events around the country this year?
Shimon: We will be participating in every Gluten Free show around the country.
Alicia: How did it come about that Sue Shepherd did your demonstration video?
Shimon: I have known Sue Shepherd for many years. Once she had tasted the bread she commented that she has never tasted any GF bread like it. From there grew the idea of the DVD production.
The Simply Wize product range as of March 2010, including gluten-free lavosh, deli wafers, and bread mixes
Alicia:Of all your products - the Crusty Bread Mix, the French Stick Mix, the Deli Wafers or the Lavosh, which is the one you most like? Why?:
Shimon: I am very proud of all my products as they are very innovative. The lavosh I liked because I used to love eating lavosh so I really wanted to create a gluten free equivalent. My girls and I had never been happy with any of the gluten free bread mixes on the market so I decided to find one that tasted as good and as crunchy as regular crusty bread.
Alicia: At the Western Australian Gluten Free Expo 2010 I tasted your French stick. It is undoubtedly the nicest tasting and crustiest GF breads I've ever tasted - it compares favourably to conventional French Sticks. Did it take a long time to develop the recipe?
Shimon: Every product takes a long time to develop as we want to get the taste just right. Family and friends were the taste testers!
Alicia: Will your products be available outside Australia?
Shimon: Yes, hopefully.
Alicia: Which stores will be stocking your products?
Shimon: Currently many IGA and health food stores. We are ranged in Franklins and Coles and hopefully soon in Woolworths
Alicia: Are there any tips or tricks to baking your bread that you'd like to share with us? Would you recommend against using a bread maker?
Shimon:The bread needs to be cooked in a very hot oven – 220 degrees C. Most breadmakers don’t reach this temperature. The dough needs a good knead so this can be done with the dough hook of an electric mixer. Giving the finished product a shpritz of water will give it a nice sheen and keep more moisture in the bread.
Alicia:Do you have any advice for people shopping for GF products for the first time?
Shimon: Try our products!!
Alicia: Do you have anything new in the pipeline? When can we expect to see it on the shelves?
Shimon:There are a few products in the pipeline - as soon as they are ready to hit the shelves, I’ll let you know.
Thank you for spending this time with us, Shimon, and I wish you every success with your new venture, as your product and your dedication and passion toward your work is really inspiring.