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Ian Hemphill (1970)

Icon of the Australian food scene and renowned as Australia’s king of spice

His herbs and spices are found in many of our pantries and his cookbooks grace many of our kitchen bookshelves. Nicknamed “Herbie” by classmates at Glenaeon, Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spices is today renowned as Australia’s king of spice. 

Herbie’s Spices, the Rozelle store he launched with wife Liz in 1997, is an icon of the Australian food scene and Ian himself has been described as the herb and spice equivalent of a master of wine.

Liz and Ian now work full-time at Herbie's Spices, dividing their time between the “Spicery”, where their spices are processed, blended and packed, and their retail store in Rozelle, where they love the opportunity to meet and talk to their regular customers.

They 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 10 of these tours to India since opening Herbie's Spices.

In October 2007, Ian was inducted into the Sydney Morning Herald Sydney Magazine’s Food Hall of Fame.

In July 2011, Herbie's Spices was presented with the trophy for the Most Outstanding Providore in the ABC Delicious Magazine 2011 Produce Awards.

Glenaeon

Ian came to Glenaeon in 1965, in one of the first classes to travel through the newly established high school on the Middle Cove campus.

He’d previously spent several years at the King’s School, Parramatta, learning how to “march, pray and play football”, but joined Glenaeon after his parent’s friends persuaded them he’d be happier there.

Ian’s class teacher was one of Glenaeon’s founders, Sylvia Brose, whom the class nicknamed “Brose-aurum” because of her passion for Latin.  She made Ian study two years of Latin in one year when he started, in order to catch up!

Other teachers he remembers fondly include Reinhard Dregenberg, his German teacher, who still remains in touch from Germany, and Reiner Feick, his woodwork teacher, who also lived in Dural at the time, and let Ian drive his car to school while on his L plates.

What are your earliest memories at Glenaeon?

There were girls at Glenaeon!! After an all-boys school, they were a bit of a distraction!

What did Glenaeon give you?

The belief that “if you want to do something, just do it.” And, even if something looks hard, “start it!”

And the ability to communicate effectively. “I enjoyed poetry, drama and communication in all forms; the teachers always encouraged me to communicate what I was thinking.”

Ian particularly enjoyed the school plays and went on to audition for NIDA when he finished school, where he was accepted in to the acting course at the age of 18. Here, he met future wife Liz, then studying production.

Realising acting involved a lot of standing around waiting for things to happen, Ian joined his parents herb and spice business in 1969.

In 1974, Ian completed a Management Certificate course through TAFE NSW and in 1978 he completed the Diploma Company Director course through Company Director’s Association of Australia (now merged with Institute of Company Directors).

In 1997, he and Liz opened Herbie’s Spices, a speciality herb and spice shop in Rozelle.  Ian says he never stops learning about spices, and the small business they first opened now employs 20 people.

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