Nuts over peanut butter

Nuts over peanut butter

Alzari 'Joey' Mahshar is nuts about peanut butter.

While many love the salty-sweet spread packed with protein and healthy fats, Joey, 43, has taken his passion to another level - he produces and sells his own special-recipe peanut butter.

Joey was so confident of his product that he quit his job with a telecommunications company in Singapore after 13 years to take a leap into the nutty world of entrepreneurship.

"It all began when my colleagues issued a challenge. They were from the Philippines, which is quite well-known for homemade peanut butter. They said theirs was the best, so of course I had to try making my own," Joey told The Star Online.

After several months of trial and error, he perfected the recipe - reaching the perfect balance of nuts and salt from India, a specific brand of local cane sugar and sunflower oil - and his colleagues went wild.

Noting the popularity of his homemade spread, Joey decided it was time to take his passion further and make it work for him.

"I love peanut butter, I'm crazy about it. To my tastebuds, my peanut butter is perfect, so I would like to share it with my friends and the rest of the world."

A 350g jar of Joey's peanut butter retails for RM13, with 300g of roasted and ground peanuts packed into each jar.

"Each jar is full of that delicious, rich flavour, without additives and emulsifiers that clog it up and make it stick to the roof of your mouth," he said.

The problem with commercially-made peanut butter, Joey says, is that it is usually chock-full of emulsifiers, flavourings and preservatives.

"That's why it can last for up to three or four years. Can you imagine eating something that's been in your fridge for a year?", he asked.

His homemade peanut butter is fresh and can only last six months - but don't worry, it'll be gone long before the expiration date. And yes, it's halal too!

It comes in two varieties - crazy chunky and awesome smooth.

You can also customise the amount of sugar that goes into a jar.

While many like the strong, full-bodied taste of crazy chunky sugar-free peanut butter; others prefer an awesome smooth on their toast.

"I made the sugar-free option for a friend whose nine-year-old son has diabetes. I can meet dietary demands if there are any," says Joey.

His homemade peanut butter doesn't just go on toast - Joey says that many people eat it on green apples, spread on celery, daubed on roti canai - or straight out of the jar.

"One girl dipped KitKat fingers in it. I was like wow, that is some sweet tooth she's got!"

Many of his customers also use the homemade peanut butter to make Raya cookies like kuih makmur and cakes.

With a two-jar minimum order limit, he delivers anywhere in the Klang Valley.

"Thanks to social media and friends, I've got quite a few orders. I sell about 45 jars a day."

Joey is particular about delivering the peanut butter himself because then he can furnish first-time buyers with "the rules".

"My homemade peanut butter doesn't need to be refrigerated. It's perfectly spreadable the way it is. If you don't use any for a while, the peanuts will sink and the oil will rise to the top, just give it a good stir. And of course, finish it in six months time."

At RM13 - the cheapest artisanal peanut butter in the market, Joey notes - the gooey, creamy peanut butter is substantial and filling.

For those who like their peanut butter chunky, they'll be thrilled with Joey's Homemade - it's full of nut quarters and halves instead of the usual meagre peanut grit you get in commercial jars.

Joey hopes to register as an SME and obtain halal certification soon. Also on the cards is a grape jelly to be sold hand-in-hand with his peanut butter in that timeless combination no one can resist.

A father to two children, Joey's emphasis is on good, nutritious food that kids like to eat.

"My peanut butter makes it easy for working parents to prepare breakfast for kids - whether on plain white bread or a piping hot baguette loaf, the peanut butter works. You can even dip vegetables or fruit in it."

Joey has chosen an eclectic path - with the advent of more and more hip goodies entering the local market at ostentatious prices, preparing good wholesome food and selling it at an equally wholesome price is relatively rare.

"That's not my style though. Good food should be accessible to everyone, not just a certain class of society."

Joey is confident in his product, and hopeful that (like his peanut butter) his future is bright, nutty, and full of flavour.

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