Chrissy Flanagan, a.k.a. The Sausage Queen, is the person behind Chrissy’s Cuts and now The Sausage Factory in Dulwich Hill.
Chrissy, Jim and The Sausage Factory provided me with lunch and a beer when I sat down with them for this interview.
The bistro-style eatery gives equal attention to high quality, house-made sausages and good local beer.
The journey of Chrissy and Jim Flanagan mirrors that of many brewers; starting at home, growing until the point at which it seems logical to go pro. It’s rarely that straightforward though.
“There were sort of two breaking points,” says Chrissy Flanagan. “I had been ageing cheeses in [Chrissy’s partner] Jim’s music studio in the Australian summer and that doesn’t go well. It was a bit whiffy.
“And also I made kombucha which, unbeknownst to me, was a volatile combination of ginger and lemon and it literally exploded and ricocheted around the pantry. So around this time Jim said ‘this is great, if you want to keep doing this food craft stuff though, is it unreasonable that it be beer or sausages?’.”
The seed of an idea was sown.
Sausages Are Terribly Intimidating
Jim is a self-described hardcore beer geek who spent a number of years living in Europe where he fell in love with sausages made from real cuts of meat rather than “eyeballs, lips and arseholes”. Back in Australia he found himself missing quality sausages. Buying Chrissy a sausage making kit for Christmas turned out to be a good idea.
“It sat around for three months because sausages are terribly intimidating,” says Chrissy. “They’re really quite scary. They’re really quite hard.”Sausages are terribly intimidating. They’re really quite scary. They’re really quite hard. Click To Tweet
Jim describes the sausages they made for the first nine months as being “hideous, tragic, horrible things”.
Things started to kick on after hours and hours of practice and a stroke of genius in nailing a pork, bacon and maple sausage recipe which remains on the menu today.
A year after first starting, and following plenty of positive feedback, Chrissy began producing sausages commercially while holding down a corporate day job.
It all started in small batches on a 10kg machine, for fourteen hours at a time. “It was so, so, so fucking miserable,” she says. However, they soon progressed to a facility in Alexandria.
Links To Beer
Chrissy began ingratiating herself with Sydney’s beer lovers. Not only did Chrissy’s Cuts pop up at GABS, she also served sausages to hungry punters at many of Sydney’s breweries.
“There’s definitely a very hardcore connection,” says Chrissy on the crossover between her sausages and the beer scene.
“When we first launched two years ago, I did a series of bangers and brewers pop ups at breweries. We did Young Henrys, Akasha, and Willie The Boatman. We were the first food at Akasha… It was, at the time, a who’s who of Sydney breweries.”
Success on the brewery circuit eventually led Chrissy and Jim to the old butcher’s shop they now occupy in Dulwich Hill.
The Sausage Cellar Door
“We just had this space and we were like ‘what do we do with this? I’ve got an idea, let’s turn it into a small bar. That’ll be easy’,” says Jim.
“‘We’ll call it Sausage Factory, that’ll be hilarious’,” says Chrissy. “Everything we do starts as a joke.”
The Sausage Factory website refers to the venue as a “Bistro / Bar / Cellar Door”. The cellar door concept, which has grown magnificently among brewers, is equally applicable here. Chrissy produces sausages commercially. A bistro is the ideal way to get those into the hands and mouths of the public, just like brewers do with beer.
As well as being an avenue to market and a way of generating additional revenue, the cellar door taps into a growing interest around where food and drink comes from.
“It’s cool to go ‘that’s where the sausages come out’,” says Chrissy. “I think that’s interesting to people and it’s interesting to me… Isn’t it just a function of being alive? And why is it interesting beyond that? But it is!”
This interest seems to have increased in recent times. There’s no doubt that gentrification and rising property prices around Sydney’s inner suburbs have changed how people spend their money. In turn, this has contributed to the growth of the cellar door experience.
“Sydney people have gone ‘I’m never going to own a house so I’m going to live well’,” says Chrissy. “A lot of what that discretionary spending is going on is food and amazing craft beer.”I'm never going to own a house so I’m going to live well. A lot of what that discretionary spending is going on is food and amazing craft beer. Click To Tweet
Beer, Sausages & Provenance
There weren’t many people doing high quality sausages in Australia, let alone in Sydney. That thought led Chrissy and Jim down the path of opening their cellar door but it also led them to curate an excellent beer list that puts local first.
“Initially it was just going to be a simple menu,” says Jim. “We were going to build it around the sausages that we make here but then very quickly I was like ‘we’re on the edge of Marrickville.’
“I was increasingly really, really disappearing down the beer rabbit hole and becoming mates with lots of brewers and getting really geeky.”
Being embedded in the places producing high quality beer meant bringing the beer and sausages together made complete sense.
“Sausages and beers are very natural,” says Chrissy. “But there’s a reason, it’s not just an old school thing. It exists for a good reason.”
The move to only Sydney beers was one they spent a lot of time thinking and talking about.
“We were looking at what we were picking naturally and we were like ‘these are like 80% Sydney’,” says Jim. “And all our favourite ones, at least most of them, are coming from Sydney.”
“We keep things as local as is physically possible but always the quality comes first,” says Chrissy. “We’re not purely using Sydney beers because they’re local. They’re amazing. And we’re not only having obscure beers purely for the point of being obscure, it’s because they’re incredible.”We’re not purely using Sydney beers because they’re local. They’re amazing. - The Sausage Factory Click To Tweet
Moving Beer & Food Forward
Sydney has many magnificent restaurants but too few do beer well. When Chrissy says, “I just don’t know how people are opening now without a point of difference”, she could be talking about either breweries or restaurants.
So why are beer lists at restaurants still lacking? “I have no fucking idea,” says Chrissy. “Because it’s here. Like, just go get it. It’s easy.”
“I think it’s the least you can do… To go to a place that hasn’t done it is embarrassing.”
Chrissy Flanagan and The Sausage Factory are changing that in their own small way.