Pia Papenfuss and Tim Laferla are using imperfect and rejected fruit to make spirits at their innovative distillery.

Damaged fruit put to good use

They identify what the most wasted foods are and then determine the best way to extract the flavour or ferment the sugars from those foods.
March 21, 2024

REJECTED bananas, left over apple pulp and imperfect citrus don’t normally come to mind when you think of premium spirits, but Swan Valley couple Pia Papenfuss and Tim Laferla aren’t your traditional distillers.

Trained chef Ms Papenfuss and former bar tender Mr Laferla see discarded, unwanted and sometimes downright ugly fruit as the hero ingredients of their boundary pushing spirit business aptly named Damaged Goods Distilling Co.

Now, just five months after launching their small batch, sustainable distillery the duo are getting ready to debut their perfectly imperfect drinks collection at the Perth Upmarket on Sunday, March 24.

They’re hoping their unique ingredients and innovative distilling techniques will hit the right note with the gourmet food and beverage lovers who visit the quarterly design market.

“Usually, a typical distillery will start with a flavour or product in mind before creating their concoctions,” said Mr Laferla.

“At Damaged Goods Distilling Co, we work backwards.

“We identify what the most wasted foods are in society and then determine the best way to extract the flavour or ferment the sugars from those foods.”

Ms Papenfuss who trained as a chef in her hometown in Berlin first realised her passion for sustainable food practises while completing her apprenticeship.

“Very early on in my career we would laugh at our executive chef who would regularly climb into bins to find the produce that we had thrown away that could have been used,” she said.

“We wouldn’t cook with the food that had been thrown away, but it did teach us how foods can be used in different ways.

“There’s so much flavour in the odds, ends and offcuts that are often discarded.”

Ms Papenfuss travelled to Sydney in her 20s and met Mr Laferla while working at Fred’s restaurant in Sydney.

The pair not only became partners in life but decided to build a business combining their expertise in taste and what makes a great drink.

Moving back to Mr Laferla’s hometown of Perth in 2022 – a decision made even easier by the abundance of high-quality produce in WA – the couple transformed an old greengrocer storeroom into a distillery with a custom-made, 100 per cent recycled copper still as the centre piece.

Working directly with farmers, growers and producers to collect supermarket rejects, Damaged Goods Distillery Co have already created a citrus gin and an apple aperitivo, and there are plans to add to the range in the coming months.


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