The city of Wangaratta is located in north-eastern Victoria not far away from the NSW border, and about 250 km away from Melbourne. It is in the heart of gourmet food and wine country, with King Valley and Milawa – the home of Brown Brothers wines – close by.
Over 20,000 people call Wangaratta home, including Brent Ibrom and his family. Brent trained and worked as a butcher, and, noticing a distinct lack of good quality knives in shops in town, decided to do something about it.
Fast forward seven years and Brent is now the proud owner of My Slice of Life, a retail and online business supplying a dazzling array of not just knives but many other items that are on the shopping lists of enthusiastic (amateur and professional) chefs and foodlovers.
To test the market, he started off at the local markets (no pun intended) with a trestle table and a stack of knives, and took it from there. At about the same time he opened an online store on eBay and in a relatively short period had developed a loyal customer base both in Wangaratta and further afield.
In 2015 he made the leap to bricks and mortar, opening a retail shop, which proved so successful that late last year he moved again to larger premises, where he could hold more stock and also kick off a new side to the business – a series of food and beverage workshops, teaching everything from cheesemaking to home brewing to wine making and salami and sausage making.
Brent’s business is tapping into two growing trends – the ‘make it yourself’ movement and, locally, the growth in recreational hunting (which we covered on The Grind here). In fact our very own Luke Benjamin headed down to Victoria recently to help Brent with his stand at a recent hunting expo.
“We’ve been able to grow a strong regional following with the wide range of items we stock.” says Brent. “There are very few other outlets that have as much all under one roof. As a result we have people travelling from quite a distance – 5 hours drive away in some cases – to come and buy their kit from us.”
Needless to say, Brent stocks most, if not all of the Total Knife Care range including the IO Shen range of knives and the Nirey electric knife sharpeners.
“The IO Shen range is doing well – the knives look good and stay very sharp, plus the Asian style knife* is very popular at the moment. And the knife sharpeners are very popular, especially with the hunters.” Brent adds.
Another type of cooking that’s increasing in popularity is American barbeque style, something that has not gone unnoticed by Brent (or by us – check out this recent article), who now offers not only a range of American barbeque equipment, but also a new workshop on the cooking style.
So, if you’re planning a gourmet trip to northern Victoria to sample the food and wine, you might want to stop off at My Slice of Life in Wangaratta to stock up on your gear, take in a workshop or just grab some advice or hints and tips from Brent!
*IO Shen are Japanese style knives