WHEN Duska Jefed and her partner Rob Cullinan took over the Middle Eastern food business The SpicePalace six years ago, many of the ingredients they used were imported, or came pre-prepared.

These days, almost everything the Ocean Shores couple sell is locally sourced and made from scratch.

From the macadamias in their dukkah to the tomatoes in their fresh tomato salsa, the olives in their tapenade and the chilli in their harissa, Duska and Rob seek out the freshest local ingredients they can find, including eggs from their own backyard chooks.

And when they’re not slow roasting pumpkin for their pumpkin and chermoula dip, soaking almonds for their almond hummus, or preserving lemons, they’re fresh roasting and grinding their spice blends or making a batch of their sweet and flaky baklava by hand.

Duska, a former yoga teacher, says keeping it fresh, local, seasonal, small scale and hand-made is their aim.

It means they can support local farmers and reduce food miles, keep their products preservative free, and deliver them to their customers at the local farmer markets’ as fresh and full of flavour as possible.

“We want to keep it local. We want to be able to sell to people that we see, and we want to be able to tell them ‘yep we made that.’

Duska says one of her favourite things about being at the farmer market is seeing people’s reactions when they try the dips she’s made.

It’s great to have that immediate feedback… actually seeing for myself how much people like what were doing, it gives you that feeling of job satisfaction.”