Franks Fruit Market opened its doors for business in Haberfield in February 1974. Frank was just 22 when he ambitiously took over an already existing business that was in desperate need of attention.
Frank Bonfante was 13 when he arrived in Australia from a little island off the coast of Sicily called Lipari. The islands, along with the rest of Italy were still suffering the effects of WWII and life on the islands was tuff in those post war years. Food was simple and the land and the sea provided them with all they needed. Franks father Gaetano Bonfante was a farmer by day and a fisherman by night, and brought home only freshest of fresh produce for his wife Francesca to prepare for the family.
The fruits and mainly vegetables that are today served up in some of Australians’ best restaurants are what were once served up on the plates of the humble working class in southern Italy. Many of these greens were cultivated, but many grew wild along the roadside and in the paddocks where the few head of livestock grazed.
By the age of 14 Frank left school to work in a fruit shop so as to help his father support what was a growing family. In the 60’s fruit shops where predominantly Italian owned, well in inner Sydney at least, and this is where Frank learned his craft as well as all the names of the produce in English. Working for fruiterers who were already veterans of the industry gave Frank a knowledge and an eye for quality and what the customer wanted.
Those were the days when “Roquet" was but a big tube the Americans launched into the sky, artichokes were from Mars, zucchini flowers were well, pretty, and fennel was that weed that grew along the railway lines. They were these men and women who cultivated the world class produce industry that Australia can today stand proud of.
Now, more than 40yrs on, Frank is still in Haberfield serving the community just as he did when he arrived 1974. Today many of his initial customers have left this world, but today he serves their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren with the same dedication and passion.