"Watching my husband carve slices of salmon for customers is quite sexy . . . I think the ladies like it too," laughs Linda Kelly, co-owner of Dunsborough-based Sugarloaf Salmon with her "dishy" husband, Andy.
Between them, they have created a blossoming business of cold-smoking their own fresh Tasmanian salmon and selling it at the local markets and restaurants around the South West.
Barely three months in, and the business began like many other success stories. Mr Kelly, a trained chef, had always smoked his own salmon at home, and often found supermarket brands disappointing. So the couple bought a commercial smoker (their original was a smaller version bought on eBay) and started selling their wares at the local Margaret River Farmers' Market.
"The salmon is delivered fresh to our door a few times a week," says Ms Kelly. "Andy is very pedantic about the quality so this gives us an opportunity to really inspect the fish," she says. "We cure the salmon for a few days, but we trial lots of things, too. Andy wants to do a chilli cure which we've not seen done before, or a whisky cured salmon, but we also try to reduce wastage by making things like smoked candy salmon from the tail end and belly, or sliced salmon pickle based on my Polish grandma's recipe," she says.
The Kellys use sustainably-grown Australian Red Ironbark wood which gives the salmon a distinctive and unique smoky flavour. "We love people seeing what we do and the whole country-kitchen style of life, so we're open to people coming out to see us at home," Mrs Kelly says.
"We had a lady come all the way from Dardanup with an order which we thought was really special."
Aside from Saturday's Margaret River Farmers' Market, find Sugarloaf Salmon on the menus at popular South West venues such as Caves House and Occy's Brewery, or try Smith's Beach Deli, the Dunsborough General Store, Chris's Sea To You Seafood in Geographe Bay or The Goose in Busselton. The salmon comes in 100g ($9) and 250g ($21) packs. Visit facebook.com/sugarloafsalmon for updates or phone 0423 668 811.