IN a quest to turn the humble almond into something a bit more exciting, Dave and Jane Cleary drew up a business plan.
Nearly 12 months on and their new business, Nut Quacker Gourmet Nuts has turned into a boutique income earner with a large following of loyal customers.
Dave and Jane split their time between homes in Denmark and Perth but their creative cooking flare came from a number of European travels, taken before the business was formed in April last year.
For Jane's husband Dave, Europe meant one thing - tapas.
And on each return home from overseas Dave came armed with new ideas and recipes for the couple's "almost weekly" dinner parties.
"That's how it all started really," Jane said.
"We have a lot of dinner parties for friends who, like us, have an appreciation for good food and wine."
It was about one year ago that Dave and Jane hosted their good friends, Graham and Kelly Howard, Whitfield Estate Winery, Denmark, for dinner.
After the pair got a taste for Dave's spicy almonds there was no going back.
"Graham and Kelly suggested we package them because they wanted to sell them at Whitfield Estate," Jane said.
But after numerous bottles of wine the idea was put to bed.
Several weeks later, sitting around the dinner table, the idea came up again and this time Dave and Jane decided to seriously weigh up their options.
By April of last year the couple had created a business logo and started to play around with a few recipe ideas for a potential range.
These days the Clearys buy in all the raw nuts and spices and Dave does all the roasting, toasting, blending and grinding.
With six nut products and an extra virgin olive oil on the market, the Cleary's are proud of how far their little business has come in such a relatively short period of time.
"Our products have no additives which means they only have a relatively short shelf life," Jane said.
"We're not big believers in artificial colours, flavours and preservatives especially when a product tastes awesome as it is, once the blend of spices is right."
Nut Quacker Gourmet Nuts produces:
n Smoky Almonds - a Spanish tapas style of lightly spiced almonds.
n Ducka (better known as dukkah) - an Egyptian dry mixture of chopped nuts, seeds and Middle Eastern spices.
n Honey Spiced Nuts - the perfect pre-dinner snack.
n Mo-Rockin' - a nut blend with just enough heat to get your tongue tingling.
n And a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil - perfect for dipping, drizzling and cooking with.
For the sweet tooths, Dave and Jane also produce a crunchy, buttery and slightly salty nut brittle and the quirky 'Pistoffee', an irresistibly scrumptious pistachio toffee which is delicious on its own but also makes for an attractive dessert garnish.
"We never really went into this with the view of turning it into a huge commercial venture," Jane said.
"We really did it for people like us who enjoy entertaining with lovely fresh products."
For now, Dave and Jane are happy with the progress of their small business and prefer to focus on their individual stockists rather than supermarkets and chain outlets.
"We have also had lots of interest for corporate gift baskets over the Christmas period because the nuts are a local product and they provide a wonderful alternative to chocolates," Jane said.
Dave and Jane's range of Nut Quacker Gourmet Nuts can be found at Whitfield Estate Winery, Denmark, The Source: Real Food Store, Denmark, Denmark Visitor Centre, Reeves On Campbell, Albany, The Black Duck Pantry, Albany, The Avenue Café, Dalkeith, Be Tempted, London Court, West Cape Howe Wines, Mt Barker, Singlefile Estate Winery, Denmark, Hay Shed Hill Wines, Margaret River and online at www.nutquackernuts.com.au