VOICE 121- Hunter Browns

Lanna, founder at Hunter Browns

“It is a hard industry but it is always very worth it. Especially now, you get to meet some great people that you wouldn’t have otherwise met. Just keep at it!”

Hunter Browns takes pure New Zealand butter and browns and caramelizes it to perfection. Known for its incredible rich aroma and slightly sweet nutty taste, brown butter turns any dish instantly gourmet in no time. 

Hunter Browns was officially launched in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit, and it has proved that an innovative small business in Vancouver still thrives even in the pandemic time.

VOICE(V): “How did you come up with your product?” 

Lanna (L): “ I have always liked an old fashioned brown butter spaghetti, and as a self-employed single mom, I hardly get to spend time cooking in the kitchen and my go-to dish would always be a brown butter spaghetti. So of course, at our annual Christmas party back in 2017, I decided to make it for the children’s dish. I browned too much butter so I saved it for the next day. Surprisingly, it kept extremely well and even had a fuller flavour!
I decided to experiment and started buying all the different kinds of butter and browned them to see which butter was the best to brown. I worked with so much butter that I put it into ice cube trays and started using it for every dish I made. I am an average cook on my best days, but the brown butter really helped turn my dish into a gourmet meal! I figured that if someone like me felt that good after cooking in the kitchen, it might help someone else, too. That is kind of where it all started.” 

Lanna already had a business as a documentary researcher and she took a break from it to set up her brown butter business. It was all gradual, but the first step was taking a food safe exam and setting up an Instagram handle. Thanks to the power of Instagram, Hunter Browns was already nominated for the 2019 Product of the Year Award by the BC Food & Beverage prior to launching, as well as winning the Best Food Product (Savory)  by Vancouver Magazine in their Made in Vancouver Awards in 2020.

V: “What is brown butter?”

L: “It is interesting how many people don’t know what brown butter is. It is basically butter that has been caramelized. It is a classic French staple in the kitchen, a chef’s trick that can transform all kinds of recipes, both savory and sweet. When we buy butter, it typically has 20% water content and as we heat it, the water evaporates and with that, milk solids start to separate from butterfat. In that process, it starts to brown and emits a very fragrant hazel nutty aroma. You can use brown butter as an oil or normal butter substitute to anything you make and it elevates all the flavours around it. 
We put it into cubes so there is no measurement or cutting needed. Each cube is equal to one tablespoon. You can simply drop in the number of the tablespoons the recipe calls for. Another cool thing about our brown butter is that because it is already pre-browned, it doesn’t burn anymore – which is why a lot of people are intimidated to make it to begin with. But now that that’s not an issue, it’s basically a fool-proof ingredient!”

V: “How is it different from Ghee?”

L: “Ghee is of Indian origin. One of the main differences is that ghee discards the milk solids, while we keep it. In keeping the milk solids, brown butter is cooked until everything is brown and toasted, keeping in mind that there’s only a few seconds until the milk solids burn – which makes it more delicate to cook than ghee. In the end, we end up with a special kind of sweetness around it.”

V: “How has your business grown in the pandemic time?”

L: “I have been very lucky that it did make my product pretty well known just because it was made for the home cook. When the pandemic hit last March, I was just publicizing my business on Instagram and getting into retail stores. Instagram really helped retailers to find me.  And then the pandemic hit. Initially I thought because my product is frozen and it is good for 18 months in the freezer or 4 months in the fridge, I could have just waited and weathered the storm. Then I realized that a lot of people started cooking at home or looking for ways to spruce up their cooking,  the time to bump up my business.
I pushed my online marketing as much as possible, and I pivoted to online ordering and delivery. Shortly after I joined Legends Haul, which does my delivery now. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to make the product myself and I had always intended to set up the foundation right from the start to outsource my production line.
I also made the choice not to do the Farmers Market because my product is refrigerated, and I didn’t want people’s first impression of my product to be something possibly melted when it is not a commonly known product just yet.”

V: “Has your life style changed by the pandemic as a single mom and entrepreneur?”

L: “The weirdest thing was that working as a documentary researcher, I have actually been working from home the whole time for the past 9 years. So I am super used to staying in and working from home. Then when the pandemic hit, that was the first time I got a co-working space and work outside my home. My son is in kindergarten now and he gets off too early, so I get a lot of help from my mom.”

V: “What are your future plans?”

L: “With Hunter Browns, hopefully by the end of this year, it would be great to see my product in some other provinces with other variety of flavors. We definitely want to get it out there. It is named after my son, Hunter, and I felt like everything came together with the branding for it to be both feminine and masculine to cater to everyone. That being said, I always pictured guys buying it to cook with for stay-in date nights, so that would be pretty cool if that ever happened!”

V: “What recipes would you recommend to someone who is new to brown butter?”

L: “I would always recommend to fry an egg with it. An egg is so bland that you can see and smell the difference. It is also a very easy recipe for anybody. For vegetarians, I would recommend to just simply sautee vegetables with it.
Then again, I would always say to make brown butter spaghetti, because why not? You can just boil a handful of spaghetti noodles, put 2-3 brown butter cubes in a pan, add in the noodles, and add any cheese you want with salt and pepper. It is so subtle and understated but so rich and really, it is so good!”

Hunter Browns shows you the easiest way to elevate your cooking. Check out their Recipe page for more tips, tricks and recipe inspiration! Their brown butter can get you obsessed!! 

Also, check out retailers near you to shop for delicious Hunter Browns Brown Butter Cubes. 

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