The world’s only all-Australian cheesemonger and creator of Melbourne’s famous triple cheese and truffle toastie has been named Melbourne’s Small Business of the Year at last night’s Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards.
RIPE Cheese, one of Queen Victoria Market’s beloved Dairy Hall traders, was recognised for its impressive business vision at the awards ceremony.
Founded in 2019 by Hakim Halim, RIPE Cheese sells more than 50 varieties of Australian cheese from small family-owned artisan cheesemakers – including more than half from Victoria.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our city – making up 74% of all businesses in our municipality and 14% of jobs,” said Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.
“We’re thrilled to be able to crown RIPE Cheese as this year’s Small Business of the Year – a small business which has managed to build a brie-lliant empire of Australian-only cheese.”
Much-loved salad bar CRISP and independent retailer, Mary Martin Bookshop, were finalists for the prestigious award, which recognises an outstanding business dedicated to sustainability, innovation and customer care.
Docklands-based ag-tech start-up Gaia Project Australia was awarded Most Innovative Small Business of the Year – a new award category this year.
Gaia Project was recognised for its ambitious work, advancing technology which enables the growth of 50 plants per square meter without transplanting, offering a sustainable option for growers while supercharging their yields and profits.
The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards also recognised the achievements of 50 Melbourne business owners who’ve been operating in the City of Melbourne for more than 10, 20 and 40 years, including:
- City Basement Books – an underground treasure trove of secondhand books in Melbourne’s CBD;
- Kinki Gerlinki – an ethical fashion boutique filled with ones of city’s most colourful and eclectic collections of clothing;
- American Doughnut Kitchen – a beloved Queen Victoria Market stall serving piping hot, sugar-coated jam doughnuts;
- Treviso Bar & Dining – a historic Italian bar and restaurant located in one of Melbourne’s most iconic laneways;
- Rockit Barbershop – an old-school barbershop offering classic and contemporary cuts;
- Leo McPhee – Master diamond setter and jewellery designer at Whitlow.
The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards acknowledge and celebrate Melbourne’s longstanding independent small businesses, and the people who run them.
“Anyone who has run a small business knows it’s an always-on role, so it’s important we congratulate and thank some of our longest-serving and best businesses,” said Small Business portfolio deputy lead, Councillor Kevin Louey.
“RIPE Cheese has well and truly demonstrated they’re a worthy winner of this year’s award – contributing so much to our city’s culture and building on the vibrant offerings of the Queen Victoria Market.”
RIPE Cheese founder, Hakim Halim said it was “incredible” to be recognised in the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards.
“I’m so humbled because I never could have imagined to be in this position when I first got here,” he said.
“We want to showcase Australian cheese and its producers through more advocacy, outreach, education and government lobbying – and at the same time, create more opportunities for future cheese experts through mentorship and scholarship programs.
“We see ourselves as the catalyst that brings Australian produce to the world. Last year, for example, we brought our cheese masterclasses to Singapore – who knows where to next!”
For a full list of this year’s recipients, visit City of Melbourne.