What is Herbies?
Herbie’s Spices fills a need in the community of cooks and food lovers for one central website to access all those hard-to-find herbs and spices. They also stock the easy-to-find ones, of the freshest and best quality, so that you can stock up on all your spices and herbs from the comfort of your own home. Herbie’s Spices are also available from many selected stockists around Australia. To find a stockist, simply search Stockists by entering your suburb or postcode.
The blends and spice mixes made at Herbie’s Spices contain no fillers, starches, MSG, free-flow agents or additives of any kind, so you know they will be rich in flavour and quality. Using his vast knowledge and experience for your benefit, Herbie has the widest possible range of top quality dried herbs, spices and blends to meet your every need.
Herbie’s also publishes a newsletter every few months, full of handy information about all things spicy. You can subscribe to it and Newsletters are also available here on the website.
You’ll also find spice-related books, and lots of easy to use spice kits to buy for yourself or for a gift.
Who is Herbie?
Herbie has long been the nickname of Ian Hemphill, one of Australia’s foremost culinary herb and spice experts.
Herbie spent his childhood surrounded by herbs and spices, when his parents, John and Rosemary Hemphill, were pioneering the herb and spice scene in the 1950s.
Fifty years of working in the industry, including face-to-face lectures to groups from the general public, industrial brokering, manufacturing and marketing, has made Herbie a well-respected and popular figure among his peers, in Australia and overseas. He now enjoys sharing his extensive experience and knowledge with his customers at Herbie’s Spices.
Liz Hemphill and Ian were married in 1970. Throughout the years while their three daughters were young, Liz worked in the family business, as well as picking and drying lavender, roses and lemon verbena for thousands of her hand-made sleep pillows. It was during this time that she wrote Your First Book of Herb Gardening published by Angus and Robertson. As a proficient family cook, Liz knew that herbs and spices could inspire home cooks and enhance everyday meals. When Liz and Ian established Herbie’s Spices in 1997, Liz took on the tasks of recipe development, writing quarterly newsletters and managing the accounts, along with the myriad of tasks that are involved in running a family business.
Kate Hemphill, Ian & Liz’s eldest daughter, is an accomplished cook, a graduate of Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London, recipe contributor to The Spice & Herb Bible, and developer of most of the inspirational recipes you will find on this website. As a mother of two, Kate’s recipes are family friendly and are on the healthy side. Having grown up in a herb and spice family, Kate remembers playing in her grandmother’s herb garden, and sitting down to family dinners that were always beautifully spiced!
Milestones Since Herbie’s Opened in 1997.
In 2000 Herbie’s Spices was the winner of the Gourmet Traveller Jaguar award for excellence for Innovation in Produce.
Ian’s first book Spice Notes – A cook’s compendium of herbs and spices was launched in October 2000 and was received with wide acclaim.
In 2001 Spice Notes won the coveted Food Media Club Food Writer’s award for best hard cover food related book in Australia. Shortly after at Tasting Australia in Adelaide, Spice Notes was one of eight nominees for the Jacobs Creek award for best hard cover food related book in the world.
In January 2002, the American magazine Saveur listed Spice Notes as number 51 in its list of 100 ‘favorite foods, restaurants, recipes, people, places & things.’
Indian Tourism awarded Herbie’s Spice Discovery Tour to India an Award of Excellence.
In September 2002 Ian’s second book Spice Travels – A Spice Merchant’s Voyage of Discovery was launched and was nominated in the Best Food Book category for the Jacobs Creek World Food Media Awards 2003.
In March 2003 Herbie was awarded the Food Media Club Australia Peer Industry Award for Best Overall Contribution to the Communication of Food, at the Vittoria Australian Food Media Awards 2003.
In 2003 demand for Herbie’s products had increased beyond the Rozelle premises capabilities, and larger premises were required for grinding, blending, processing, packaging and distribution. A factory was purchased at Charmhaven on the NSW Central Coast, where all the production and wholesale distribution could take place.
Herbaceous – A Cook’s Guide to Culinary Herbs, authored by Liz and Ian was launched in April 2003, and has been warmly received by herb lovers around Australia. In September 2004, Herbaceous was awarded a Highly Commended at the Vittoria Australian Food Media Awards 2004.
Spicery – A Cook’s Guide to Culinary Spices, written by Ian & Elizabeth Hemphill with Philippa Sandall, was launched in October 2004. In December 2004 Spicery was awarded Best Single Subject Cookbook – English, in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2004.
In Early 2007, Herbaceous and Spicery were combined into one edition and launched under the title Sticks, Seeds, Pods & Leaves – A Cook’s Guide to Culinary Herbs and Spices with over 150 recipes.
Spice Notes and Recipes – A new edition of Spice Notes with new listings, additions and over 60 new recipes developed by Ian and Liz’s daughter Kate, launched in November 2006. This new edition is also published in the USA as The Spice and Herb Bible Second Edition. The USA edition was joint winner of the Best Reference Book category at the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Awards in Chicago in April 2007.
In October 2007, Ian Herbie Hemphill was inducted into the Sydney Morning Herald Sydney Magazine’s Food Hall of Fame. Herbie & Liz also take groups of tourists to India nearly every year on a Spice Discovery Tour that explores the sights, sounds, flavours and atmosphere of India. To date they have led 16 of these tours to India since opening Herbie’s Spices.
In October 2008, Channel 9’s Fresh sent Herbie to South India to record 10 six minute segments which went to air mid November 2008.
In April 2010, Just Add Spice, published by Penguin was launched. Just Add Spice was co-authored with Lyndey Milan and has been received with critical acclaim by the media.
In July 2011, Ian & Liz Hemphill were presented with the trophy for Herbie’s Spices for winning the Most Outstanding Providore in the ABC Delicious Magazine 2011 Produce Awards.
In 2012 Herbie and Lyndey Milan made a TV series called Moveable Feast which aired in New Zealand in 2012 and in the Ukraine and Croatia in 2013 and Australia in 2015. Moveable Feast has continued to appear on various media platforms around the world.
In July 2013 www.foodandwine.com named Herbie’s Spices in their list of Best Spice Shops in the World, the only Australian spice business recognized. In the same month, Herbie’s Spices was nominated as a Regional Finalist in the New South Wales Business Chamber Business Awards.
In October 2014, the greatly expanded 800 page third edition of The Spice & Herb Bible was launched in Canada, the USA, the UK and Australia.
In 2015 The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition was a finalist in the ‘Reference and Scholarship’ Category of the James Beard Awards, which many consider to be the the Oscars of the food world.
In 2016 Herbie’s Spices, with Singapore distributor Culina, displayed and presented spice information talks at Food Asia 2016 held in Singapore. Although Asia has historically been a spice entrepôt, Herbie’s spices, herbs and unique spice blends are popular in retail stores, and with hotels and restaurants due to their quality and food safety standards.
Herbie’s also made the difficult decision to close the Rozelle store that was opened in 1997, and move all operations to the Spicery at Charmhaven that had been functioning efficiently since 2003.
In 2017 Herbie traveled through country Victoria conducting Spice Appreciation classes with many independently owned high quality specialty retailers. These retailers care about their customers, and the classes were popular and well attended by cooks wanting to learn more about everyday use of herbs and spices.
In 2018 Herbie & Liz led another one of their Spice Discovery Tours to India. Travellers experienced the exotic spice markets in Chandni Chowk Old Delhi, Varanasi one of India’s most holy places, and many other fascinating cities. A highlight was visiting pepper and rubber plantations in Kerala and chatting with the farmers. Spices that grow in this area include pepper, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cloves.
In 2019 Herbie & Liz decided to vary the India Tour to travel in September and October and include some more unusual destinations such as Ladakh, The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Tiger Reserve in Ranthambore and be in Kolkata during the Durga Festival. Naturally a lot of beautifully spiced food was enjoyed by all!
In 2020 Ian “Herbie” Hemphill was to attend and present a paper at the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery in London. Sadly, Covid-19 put a stop to travelling to the UK, however he was able to present his paper titled “The Perils of Popularity” by Zoom, in which be highlights how so many spices and spice blends have been de-valued due to the excessive amounts of salt, sugar and artificial ingredients that are added to many products sold in Australia, the UK and the USA. The paper is published in “Herbs & Spices Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2020.
In 2021 there was no opportunity for travel, so Herbie did what he loves and worked on developing some new spice blends, influenced by past travels. A favourite new blend inspired on the 2018 tour to India was Gunpowder Spice blend. A great combination of rich Kashmiri chilli powder, fragrant coriander seeds, besan (chick pea)flour, ginger, black pepper, salt, amchur and dagar phool. 2021 also saw the launch of a versatile Kofta blend that spices an easy felafel.
In 2022 Herbie’s Spices celebrated its 25th Anniversary. As a special treat for on-line and Spicery-visiting customers, Herbie’s gave away 15,000 packs of silver-coated fennel seeds. Although spices are produced in many countries, India predominates as the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices. Ian and Liz have visited India many times, and so something special and Indian seemed appropriate.
Edible silver leaf (also called vark) is a Moghul invention to add specialness to a celebratory dinner, wedding ceremony or Puja. Vark is made from a nugget of pure silver which is hammered between leather pads by craftsman, until thinner than paper. Mint-flavoured Fennel Seeds coated with edible silver are the most special way Herbie’s could think of to share their Silver Anniversary with customers.
Trusting that travel is now possible, Herbie & Liz are taking another group of tourists to India in February and March. Who knows what spice blends will be next?
Ian is a Past President of Food Media Club Australia Inc. (later called Australian Association of Food Professionals). Ian continues to conduct Spice Appreciation Classes around Australia and at the Charmhaven Spicery. Liz and Kate work on new recipes, and come up with new seasonal Boxes of Ideas each season. Ian’s informative videos can be seen on You Tube, and he is a regular guest on ABC radio and also manages to fit in guest spots on television, various radio stations in Australia and on cable T.V. Ian is currently a board member and chairman of Central Coast Industry Connect, an organisation focused on manufacturing, innovation and employment on the NSW Central Coast.