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  1. Trippy Taco

    November 4, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    trippy taco-11

    ON THE MENU 
    Black Bean Tacos
    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Simon Fisher, Trippy Taco Owner
    “It all started with a love of tacos!” answered Simon. The friendly and mellow owner of Melbourne’s beloved taco joint sat down with us to explain how his passion for fresh tortillas and tacos grew into the bustling business it is today. His shop is nested in Fitzroy, one of the hippest areas of Melbourne, and beacons hungry taco-goers with a bright orange sign set with black lettering. Trippy Taco filled our tummies and our hearts.

    What started out as a one-time taco party turned into a booming business, which has grown in popularity over the last 7 years. Read on to hear about the Trippy Taco’s background in festival life, hippies, and peace. It’s pretty radical, if we do say so ourselves.

     To see how it’s evolved over time and how it’s managed to maintain the essence of what it was when it first started, I’m pretty happy about that.

    collage - trippy taco

    Could you tell us a bit about Trippy Taco and how it started?
    I guess if you go way back, Trippy Taco started in about 2000. I had already been living in California and Mexico for a few years and I was addicted to tacos. When I came home there was nothing like them around but there was a central American community living in Australia who had the flour to make the tortillas. I had leant how to make them when I was living in Mexico and California and just kept making them when I got home. I gave them to friends and they liked them, my dinner parties kept getting bigger. One time, we were up in Byron Bay and my friend, who lived in a bus with loads of hippy types on a caravan park, suggested that we have a party. So we had a day party and I made tacos, from then on it was called Trippy Taco. We put out flyers and everything, it was a real fun party. We had Djs and I had tacos. About 50 to 100 people turned up and from that, me and a couple of mates thought that we should keep doing it. We started to look at festivals that were coming up and that’s when we did our first event. I don’t think we made any money for about 3 years but we just loved doing it. We travelled around to all of the festivals and paid for ourselves to keep going. I did that for 5 or 6 years until we gradually got more popular. It was also getting more exhausting so I thought about getting a shop and making it a bit more stable, that’s when I bought the shop around the corner. We ran the business from there for about 5 years and then moved here 7 months ago. That’s it in a nutshell really. It all started with a love of tacos!

    So the idea originated in Byron Bay?
    Kind of, yeah. It just grew organically.

    What were you doing in California and Mexico?
    I was pretty much surfing and snowboarding. I was doing photographs for surf and snowboard magazines and also working at sporting events. In between events I would go surfing. I had a truck in Mexico and would go camping on the beach. I basically had a surf board and a gas stove, it was good fun. I met loads of people and just loved the food. I love all kinds of street food. I’m addicted to Vietnamese food too. These days there’s a lot of it around, you can even buy tortillas in the supermarkets. It’s pretty interesting to see all of these taco shops popping up everywhere. It’s good because it’s more tacos to eat!

    Do you go out to restaurants and order tacos?
    I don’t have much time. I make my own a lot at home. My place is vegetarian, but I’m not vegetarian.

    Why is Trippy Taco vegetarian but you’re not?
    I was just easier as we were doing a lot of festivals where people didn’t really want to buy meat. It seemed to work better that way so I kept doing it. There’s a different market for it. In some ways it’s kind of limiting but in other ways it works really well.

    What’s the best selling taco that you make at Trippy Taco?
    The black bean one. That’s probably the most popular. We also do a char-grilled Tofu taco and that seems to sell well. I love the breakfast taco with scrambled eggs and salsa. I just like the fresh tortillas! We’ve always made our own and you can’t beat it.

    Is it a Melbourne twist on traditional taco recipes?
    I guess so. I would say there’s traditional elements to it but I never really call it Mexican. I just learnt it while I was travelling and wanted to keep making it.

    Did you grow up in Australia?
    I grew up on the Gold Coast. I’ve lived in Melbourne now since about 1990. For most of my 20′s I was travelling around but would always come back to Melbourne. The Gold Coast is like Miami or something, it’s very American.

    How was it seeing your initial idea materialise in to a shop?
    It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s grown so organically! Basically it came from me borrowing things from my friends for festivals. I’d borrow cookers and all sorts. To see how it’s evolved over time and how it’s managed to maintain the essence of what it was when it first started, I’m pretty happy about that. On both shops, my Dad and I did the whole fit out so my parents are really proud to see how it’s grown too.

    Have you got a hospitality background?
    I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens and I love cooking. I’m not a chef, I just cook a lot. I haven’t got a huge repertoire, just tacos and burritos!

    That’s all you need huh?
    Yep!

    In Asia we noticed that street sellers would only have one item on the menu but they’d do it really well…
    Yeah, that was my idea for Trippy Taco I guess. In Melbourne we didn’t have the concept of ‘street food’. Even when I first opened the shop, everyone would eat their taco with a knife and fork. I gave up after while of saying they didn’t have to.

    Did you advertise the shop at all?
    I hadn’t ever advertised until very recently when I was approached by a couple of people. Before then it was always word of mouth. Back when I had the other shop it was just me in there cooking, people would have to come and wake me up! I would literally fall asleep reading at the back of the shop and people would come in for a taco and be like, ‘Excuse me, are you making food?’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah! What would you like?’. Now I’ve got about 25 staff so it’s totally different.

    Before I die I want to find true peace.

    Do you still cook?
    Sometimes. Not much, only when I’m training people. I like the food to be a certain way so I’m trying to get in there and train people.

    How do you make an authentic tortilla?
    Tortillas are pretty easy. I think the trick is to get to know how the flour behaves. It’s like anything, if you make it enough you just get to know that once you’ve finished mixing the dough it should be wetter than what I need it as it’ll keep soaking up water. It has to be a good thickness and the pan has to be a good temperature. They’re best when they bubble up and separate. When you see them puff up on the grill, that’s when you know you’ve got a good one. We make them everyday and stack them up.

    How many do you make a day?
    I don’t know. It’d be 100 or so.

    How did you go from making no profit at festivals to funding the shop?
    Just gradually I guess. It was made possible through borrowing money from my parents. They don’t have much money and I couldn’t get money from banks as I don’t have any assets. Even when I moved to this place and my books were looking really good they didn’t lend me anything, so I had to ask my parents. In some ways it’s better to self-fund it although it takes longer. If you get other people to invest you can do things more quickly but you’d have to make more compromises.

    Has it been hard work?
    Yes!

    Has it been worth it?
    Yes! At festivals, even though we didn’t make so much money, at one point we did a few weekends of festivals in a row and got a bunch of cash. That’s when I realised that I could make money from it. The next season I got a bit more serious and my friends thought it was too much like hard work. I got other people in to help but it’s always been fun.

    Do you still do festivals?
    No. Now, the hardest thing is managing people. There’s so many elements to keeping it all going.

    Where do you get your ingredients from?
    From different places. There’s Casa Iberica (http://casaibericadeli.com.au/) near here and another place called Aztec Products (http://www.aztecmexican.com.au/). Casa Iberica is a little Spanish deli and they’ve got lots of really good ingredients, they do really big sandwiches for about $5 so it’s great for lunch. You can choose whatever you want on it, they’ve got so many hams and salamis. I get a lot of my hot sauces from there too. That was another thing; nobody put free condiments on the table, it just didn’t happen. You always had to pay 20c for a sauce but I want people to be able to splash around hot sauce all over their stuff. At Trippy Taco I put different hot sauces out.

    Surely it’s a big decision to accompany your food with someone else’s product, how do you choose which sauces to offer?
    I just put my favourite ones out. There’s Tapatio, a chipotle sauce and a couple of others. A couple are hot but won’t kill you like some hot sauces, you can still taste it.

    Are you familiar with Byron Bay Chilli Company in Byron Bay? John the owner is so passionate about chillies!
    That’s how I was about tacos. I was trying to educate people, they had so may questions. People know now, through me and other people pushing it.

    So you’re job is done?
    Yeah! Which is good because it took a lot of energy. Just having to explain over and over. When Mad Mex (http://www.madmex.com.au/) first started, they put up a ‘How to eat a burrito’ guide! People just didn’t know but now they’re street food savvy.

    Why do you think Mexican food has become so popular here?
    It’s a fun thing and Mexican food suits our climate and way of life, it’s appealing. We’ve always liked beer and beers like Corona go hand-in-hand. We’ve got a good beach and surf culture. It’s fresh and has got wide appeal. Even when we were growing up here, our Mum’s would make us tacos from the hard shell packs. We all knew what tacos were but didn’t know what a fresh tortilla was.

    People in Melbourne seem very supportive of independent businesses, do you think that has been a factor in the success of Trippy Taco?
    Yeah, and that’s the reason why Melbourne is such a vibrant place, it’s not exclusive. In Sydney real estate was really expensive in the 90′s and for someone like me to go and start a shop, you just couldn’t! Down here the licencing laws were more relaxed. You could have a little bar, like a few people could get together and open it. I guess a lot of people had ideas, wanted to do them, and it was easy here. That’s the good thing about Melbourne and what makes it really interesting. One area seems to get a bit tired and then another little area will pop up, it’s real hard to keep track of as there’s a new place popping up everyday.

    If you were going out for food, where would you go?
    Last night I went to Izakaya Den (http://www.izakayaden.com.au/index.html) I love it there. There’s so many places, I don’t even know where to start!

    Is that what you do in your spare time?
    I don’t have much. When I do we go out to different places for dinner. We do a lot of cooking ourselves. I go through phases, so I’ll find somewhere that I really like and stick to it. At the moment I’ll have Pho from I Love Pho (https://www.facebook.com/ILovePho264richmond) everyday, it’s real nice. Ahh, Pizza! I love pizza as well. I Carusi (http://www.icarusipizza.com.au/) do the best pizzas.

    What do you cook at home?
    My girlfriend is Chinese so she cooks a lot of Cantonese, but she does anything really. She can get a recipe, cook it and it’ll be awesome! She cooks different stuff all of the time, so that’s amazing. I cook a lot of breakfasts, tacos, sometimes pancakes – I’m the breakfast guy.

    What do you want to do before you die?
    That’s a good question. Before I die I want to find true peace.

    Do you get stressed out?
    I guess I get stressed out as much as everyone else. I’ve been in to Buddhism for years now and they say that the moment of death is the moment of truth. Two things matter when you die; how you’ve lived your life and the state of your mind at the moment of death. They believe in reincarnation, so how your mind is and how you’ve lived will effect your re-birth. I guess my goal is to work towards that and learn to be peaceful.

    You seem pretty peaceful!
    Yeah, I’m doing all right but there’s always room for improvement.

    Do you hope that Trippy Taco gets kept in the family?
    In some way or other, yes definitely. It’s only been me really but I’d like to keep growing it. It’s just a project but I would like to see it keep evolving, like a Pokémon.

    ———————————————————

    http://trippytaco.com.au/

    234 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourne 3065
    03 9415 7711

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  2. Chin Up with Chin Chin

    September 8, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    top photo chin chin

    ON THE MENU 
    “Chin Chin Pork Roll Ups” red braised suckling pig with pancakes, slaw and Asian herbs.
    “Stud City” Jungle Curry with wild boar, pickled garlic and ginger.
    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Ben Cooper, Executive Chef at Chin Chin
    Downstairs in the dark GoGo Bar, we met with Ben Cooper, Executive Chef at Melbourne’s premier Thai restaurant, Chin Chin. We heard about his vast experience in the food world, as well as gleaned some serious tips for living the good life. What struck us most about Chin Chin (other than the incredible food) was the omnipresent sense of fun and gratitude–every employee seemed to be enjoying themselves. We stayed for hours watching the young sous chefs chopping deftly with our mouths agape in awe. By the time we left, all the tables were full and the line outside was snaking far around the corner. Read on for Ben’s wisdom.

    I honestly believe that Melbourne is the food capital of Australia. The guests are so educated about the food scene, they are adventurous and open to new things.

     

    collage - chin chin

    How did you get involved in Chin Chin?
    It was by coincidence really. I had been Exec Chef at another place for 4 and a half years and it was time to move on. I had potentially taken a job elsewhere and Chris had spoken to me before about maybe working together, one thing led to another. I came on board as Head Chef and when the Exec Chef left 3 months after we opened, I took his role.

    So there were two Chefs that started Chin Chin?
    Yes, it was myself and Andrew. I came on board just as it opened. Andrew had written the original menu and whatnot and 3 months after opening he moved to Byron Bay.

    Where are you originally from?
    I started my career in Sydney. I worked with some amazing Chefs there; Neil Perry, Kyle Kwong, Janni Kyritsis. I went from Sydney to London and spent 5 years there. I was Sous Chef at Lobu, worked with David Thompson at Nahm, Smiths of Smithfield with John Torode. I came back here and moved to Melbourne. I was Head Chef at a couple of restaurants, Exec Chef at St Ali for 5 years, and now here.

    How has working in Melbourne kitchens been compared to the rest of your career?
    Each city is different, every city has got it’s own feel. When I started my career in Sydney it felt like there was always Chefs from other kitchens dining in your restaurant. You know, all of the big name Chefs, and because I worked from Neil Perry he constantly dined with other big name Chefs, so it felt like you were always cooking for a special crew. Down here it doesn’t feel you’re cooking for other Chefs that often. I don’t know whether that’s because they’re too busy in their own kitchens or what.

    Was that stressful or did you enjoy the pressure?
    I loved it, it was a thrill! To know that you were cooking for the people that you aspire to be was a real thrill. In here, we do get a lot of industry in. Here at Chin Chin probably more than the other restaurants I’ve worked in. I guess it’s the new kid on the block so everyone’s coming and checking it out. I think that was the main difference. There seemed to be more of a community up in Sydney, but I don’t know what it’s like there now, it might be completely different.

    Are there a lot of differences between the food culture of Melbourne and Sydney?
    Yeah, maybe. I think Sydney is a city going through a lot of changes in it’s industry. There are a lot of restaurants that have closed down, there’s a lot of change happening up there. It has a lot more high-end restaurants but there’s a lot of upper-mid-range restaurants in Melbourne.

    Melbourne seems to cater for a wider range of budgets, which is important when you’re feeding a city. Everyone is using their creativity to create new and exciting things but it’s not too out of everyone’s price range…
    I honestly believe that Melbourne is the food capital of Australia. The guests are so educated about the food scene, they are adventurous and open to new things.

    Do you think a restaurant like Chin Chin would have worked in Sydney?
    Yeah, I think this would work in Sydney. The energy and the effort put in to Chin Chin at the start would make it work anywhere. The reason why a place works is the people who work in it. They strive to make it a place that people want to come, and that’s definitely what happens here; the front of house, the bar, the management team, the kitchen, even the guys that are taking the rubbish out or washing the dishes, everyone puts in 110%. That’s an important part of what makes a business work. People can feel that energy.

    We read about the Thai Sydney versus Thai Melbourne rivalry, do you know anything of this?
    In any country, the top two cities are always going to compete. It’s like Manchester and London, or LA and New York. They will always compete for who has got the best of what. Sydney has always had a better Thai scene, or a bigger Thai scene, like it was natural. Melbourne had a really strong Vietnamese scene, Victoria Street is predominantly Vietnamese food. Whereas you go to China Town in Sydney and there’s a massive Thai area and I guess that’s the difference. I would agree that there’s more top quality Thai restaurants in Sydney than here in Melbourne, but that’s changing.

    Are you leading the frontier?
    I started my career in Sydney, so for me it’s hard as there are so many amazing Chefs there.

    So it’s more that you’re spreading the knowledge of what you’ve learnt along the way?
    Yeah, and as we do more, the ingredients become more readily available. I’m getting things this year that last year I had to chase. Things like green pepper corns, holy basil, the whole range of Thai ingredients. Things that most places in Sydney have got but here you would struggle to find.

    So the market is changing as people are bringing things up here?
    Yeah. Firstly because the volume we are using makes it worth having a supplier come and bring it to us.

    You are creating the demand, which will hopefully encourage people to buy and use them as well…
    I would never want to be as arrogant to say that it’s us causing that, but I think we have a positive impact on it. The suppliers are bringing it to Melbourne, and in doing so other restaurants are wanting to use it. I don’t like to think of it as we’re the leaders, but as we are making it easier for everyone else to get hold of certain things.

    How has Melbourne’s Thai community reacted to Chin Chin?
    The demographic is huge here. From older couples coming in late on Sunday afternoons, to tables of young Asian girls who have come from Uni to have a late lunch, families to businessmen having meetings at lunchtime. Overall, the response to this place has been positive. It’s been very well received.

    How was your one year party?
    It was amazing! I worked with David [Thompson] in London, he’s a genius! There’s no other way of describing him. He’s a genius, with a slightly dark sense of humour and everything else that goes with being a genius. To be able to cook with him again was awesome. To be able to show chefs what I have learnt from them is a really nice feeling, so it was a very special night.

    Success is entirely relevant to what you appreciate in life. If wanting to climb Mount Everest is something that you want to do then success is doing it, and that’s got nothing to do with work or wealth, but standing on top of Mount Everest and looking at the view makes you incredibly wealthy.

    What specific magic moments did David bring to the table? No pun intended…
    It’s an energy. A respect, you can just feel it. He questions everything to make sure that everything is the best it can be. His knowledge is just innate, ask him a question about food and he will answer it.

    Is it just a case of paying attention to everything and being alert to what’s going on?
    Yeah, which is something that I try to teach my staff, especially the senior management crew that work under me, so my sous chef and my junior sous. Nothing should leave without our approval. It’s an attribute that some people are born with, you know, an interest in what surrounds them. The ability to digest that information and use it effectively is something you learn from experience. It’s one of the things that travel teaches you as you are out of your comfort zone. The moment you get off the plane wherever you’ve arrived, regardless of what country you’re in, it’s not yours. I fly to Sydney and even though I lived there once, it’s not my city and the comfort zone is gone. That heightened sense of awareness teaches you a lot about yourself too.

    Do you travel a lot?
    I just had 3 weeks in Thailand with my wife and kids. Bangkok for them was just mind-blowing. The energy is so frenetic and it’s bordering on disorganised chaos. It just works, you feel like it might fall apart at any moment but it doesn’t. The kids were plugged in to it, it was amazing.

    Was it not nerve-wracking as a parent to bring your child to somewhere so crazy?
    My wife and I are very casual. I think if you go in to it with that mentality, you’re not constantly on edge. We did Bangkok down to Phuket, across to Koh Yao, back to Phuket and up to Bangkok. It was really good.

    How often do you try to go over to Thailand?
    We hadn’t been in 11 years. It was our kids first trip.

    Is your wife involved in the food industry too?
    When we were in London, she worked in the industry because otherwise we wouldn’t have seen each other. She’s now a naturopath. We have a 2 year old son, so for the last few years she has been a house-wife, which is a full-time job. We’ve been married 13 years this year and we’ve been together for 15.

    We see a lot of places with very small menus, and in Thailand there were restaurants that did very few things but did each item perfectly. Is there a reason why your menu is so large?
    At first it was a bit confronting to me. It’s a massive menu, partially because we’re so busy and because of the size of the place. It just works. With a menu that size, once it’s up and running, it’s just a case of maintaining it. It’s sort of irrelevant how many dishes you’ve got on there because you’re basically maintaining the prep work that goes into it. Whether that’s for 60 dishes or for 12, it doesn’t really matter.

    So it doesn’t make it more difficult?
    No, I don’t think so. It just works here and it keeps it interesting for the chefs. Every 3 months we change several of the dishes, it’s constantly evolving and rolling through.

    Is it a Melbourne twist on traditional Thai food or do you stick to the Thai recipes?
    I think any time you do a restaurant of a certain culture outside of that culture, it’s going to be a twist on it. Based on the ingredients that you can get to the level of knowledge surrounding a certain cuisine. We try to be as authentic as possible. We’ve got some amazing Thai Chefs working with us and I’ve been cooking Asian food for the past 18 years, so my understanding of it is pretty good. If things are supposed to be made a certain way, then they are made that way. If they are meant to be hot, they’re hot. Sour, they’re sour. We try not to tone things down just to make people happy and with a menu that size you can afford to have few dishes that really challenge people. The duck liver dish on there is ridiculously hot and it freaks people out. We might sell 10 a week, some weeks we might sell 50, but because the menu is so big, it doesn’t matter.

    Do you have warn people before they order hot dishes about what they’re letting themselves in for?
    Generally the staff warn customers about that one. The jungle curry comes with a bit of a warning. I’m not really phased by it. I love chilli.

    Do you think your senses have dulled or have you always loved spicy food?
    I’ve always loved it! I reckon my senses have dulled a little bit to chilli but I have always loved spicy food.

    What’s the spiciest food you’ve ever eaten?
    Ghost chillies. That was offensively hot.

    Where was that?
    At a friends house in Sydney.

    Did you cry?
    There were no tears but I did struggle to breathe.

    Was it the love for Thailand or a passion for food that you noticed first?
    Thailand, Japan, all the Buddhist countries. Asian architecture, philosophy, the whole lot has a peacefulness about it.

    What are the 3 ingredients that you use most of here at Chin Chin?
    Chilli, chilli and… chilli. No, fish sauce is massive too.

    How many people work for you?
    On the rotation there’s 26 chefs and at any one time there’s 9 in the kitchen. It works like clockwork. Everyone knows their place and what needs to be done.

    Do you have a certain person working on a certain dish in your kitchen, how does it work?
    There’s 6 sections in the kitchen; fryer, curry & grill, wok, front kitchen, Gogo bar, and the front pass which is where I work. I taste every dish that leaves.

    The energy and the effort put in to Chin Chin at the start would make it work anywhere. The reason why a place works is the people who work in it. They strive to make it a place that people want to come, and that’s definitely what happens here; the front of house, the bar, the management team, the kitchen, even the guys that are taking the rubbish out or washing the dishes, everyone puts in 110%. That’s an important part of what makes a business work. People can feel that energy.

    You must be full all day?
    Pretty much, yeah. You don’t get to be 6′ 3 and 110 kilos without eating a bit.

    What are the most popular dishes here?
    It depends, there’s a couple. The Massamans definitely, the Barramundi salad, it’s become a bit of a signature dish. The crab curry everyone raves about. They are probably the main ones.

    What makes Chin Chin special?
    It just is. Everything goes together in this place. The staff are all amazing, each section of the building has incredible staff running it. The fit-out is stunning. It’s a beautiful space, so airy and relaxed. The music is great. There’s 3 major car parks within a 2 minute walk making it easy to get to. It’s smack-bang in the centre of the city so there’s an amazing amount of foot traffic. And the food is amazing. It’s the perfect storm, we just have to maintain it. I’ve got to constantly remind everyone that being busy is not a given, you’ve got to work for it. We’ve got to keep the quality up and be consistent. We don’t let any of the details slip, it’s when they slip that the cracks start to appear. As I said before, if everyone is paying attention then we pick up on it before anyone notices.

    What do you want to do before you die?
    I’m already doing it. I couldn’t ask for more.

    That’s why we’re doing this project! We want to meet people like you who are doing what they love to do. What do you think is the key to succeeding in something you love?
    You’ve got to listen to yourself. You’ve got to know who you are. I’ve got the most beautiful wife, she’s incredible. I was married at 24, which is crazy young these days. Most people asked why I was getting married at that age, it was because I was fortunate enough to meet the woman of my dreams at a young age. I’ve got 3 beautiful kids who are amazing. If I’d have doubted myself then none of this would have been possible. Plus, I’ve got the dream job. This is an amazing restaurant where I get to have fun at work everyday. The management here are amazing and Chris, who owns the place, makes sure that you take every opportunity and it’s up to you to make sure you succeed. I like that.

    <blockquote>You’ve got to listen to yourself. You’ve got to know who you are.</blockquote>

    Were the early days as a chef testing for you?
    Yes and no. It was a bit of a shock. the first hour as a chef, walking into that kitchen felt like the right thing to do. You go without a lot of things but life’s a journey. You don’t just walk up to someone who hands out money, you’ve got to create those situations. So on the one hand you’re not going out when everyone else is, but on the other hand my wife and I travelled around the world 5 times. We did 29 countries in 5 years and I couldn’t have done that without this industry. No matter where I turn up I can pretty much walk in to a kitchen and chop. It’s a universal language. I did a talk to some kids a while back and one of the questions asked was about success and wealth. I said to them that success is entirely relevant to what you appreciate in life. If wanting to climb Mount Everest is something that you want to do then success is doing it, and that’s got nothing to do with work or wealth, but standing on top of Mount Everest and looking at the view makes you incredibly wealthy.

    bottom photo chin chin

     

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    For more information, please visit:

    http://chinchinrestaurant.com.au/

    125 Flinders Lane Melbourne
    03 8663 2000
    eat@chinchinrestaurant.com.au

    If you like this post and The Eat Team, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  3. The Hungry Workshop

    September 1, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    top photo hungry workshop-5

    ON THE CANVAS 
    The Hungry Workshop
    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Jenna & Simon Hipgrave, Designers

    I whizzed down High Street on my borrowed little white Toyota “Toyosha” bike for the third time that week on my way to Melbourne’s city center, glancing to see if there was any movement inside. The lights were off, no one was there, and I let out a little sigh of impatient anticipation. Damn.

    Fast forward one week, and almost two months after I initially emailed The Hungry Workshop, we were all finally in the same place at the same time. They had returned from a trip to Europe, and Hannah and I were staying just up the road from their studio in Melbourne.

    We met Simon and Jenna on a sunny and crisp winter’s day. Its never advisable to go into a situation with high expectations, but damnit, I couldn’t help myself. After seeing their beautiful prints and designs on their blog and reading their inspiring story about quitting their jobs to finally pursue letterpress full time, moving a huge printing press from one side of Australia to another, I just imagined them being people I’d really get along with. Luckily, my high expectations were met and exceeded.

    Simon and Jenna were extremely warm, incredibly talented and knowledgeable in my favorite form of printmaking, and full of great ideas to help us on our own paths.

    “Our enthusiasm for the craft of letterpress combined with our expertise and love of design, typography and illustration ensures that every project, big and small, is imbued with heart and soul.”

    Their studio is big and bright, with a sign and shopfront window welcoming passersby to take a peek inside the studio while they slave away on The Beast, their classic Heidelberg Windmill printing press. Pale grey high school gym lockers keep the inky bits stowed safely, and framed prints from their Trophy Lives exhibit line the walls. The interior of their bathroom is covered in handmade illustrations. A colossal bookshelf stacked high with design volumes (and “trashy novels at the top”) peppered with bits and bobs they’ve collected is a stunning highlight and my favorite part of their studio (though of course the video arcade game is a close second).

    Their incredible work and talent aside, Simon and Jenna are just genuine folks and we can’t speak highly enough of them.

    Read on to hear words straight from the Hungry Workshop’s mouth.

    12.6 hungry workshop collage

    It’s a really cool work space!
    Yeah, sorry for the smell, we’ve been painting! The back is storage, but the bathroom in here is fun. We got an illustrator to come and do it. These two illustrators called Tom Claxton (Aka Tom Tax Return) and Gabriel Woodmansey (Aka Gabriello Woodmandez) of SPEW CORP., they painted our bathroom. It’s very interesting. They are very clever guys. Gabe is an Art Director who works at JWT and Tom is a copywriter looking for love.

    What are the presses that you have in the studio?
    We’ve got the two presses at the moment.

    Do you do both design and print?
    We do design for our direct clients, then we do printing of our own designs, experimental projects and things like that. We also do printing for other design studios. We run our own projects and like to mess around a bit. The prints in the studio at the moment were all part of an exhibition that we organised. They are all of the stuff-ups and test prints that we do. The real ones are on the wall. We’re looking at doing more stuff like that.

    Do you sell the finished prints or are they just for fun?
    We sell them. It’s just an excuse to have an exhibition and a party. They are 5 illustrators that we’ve met in Melbourne. We did the invitations.

    What do clients come to you wanting?
    Design and print. We do identity stuff, people often want letterpress wedding invitations, so we do a lot of that. We’ve got a website that’s being built at the moment that we’ve designed. We do all sorts!

    You make cards as well, right?
    Yeah, we sell them online and they’re stocked in a couple of shops here, and in Japan and Canada.

    Are you working everyday?
    Pretty much, yeah!

    How long have you guys been here?
    We quit our jobs last June and we’ve been in this space since Christmas (2011).

    Was that big leap to quit and start doing this full-time?
    Well, we were already doing this alongside working for a while. We wanted to move to Melbourne and found this space through an estate agent after 4 or 5 months. We had to renovate it as it was an upholstery shop before. It was covered in carpet and curtains. The whole thing was carpeted from the front door all the way to the back. There were make-shift walls made out of bits of wood, upholstery straps and a whole lot of staples.

    Where do you find and buy machines like these?
    They sort of find us. We were printing up at the place where we learnt and this guy came along, knew a guy that was selling one [a Heidelberg Windmill] and asked if we wanted it. It was from a commercial printer who didn’t need it any more. The other press came from a guy who found us online and was getting rid of his stuff. We are getting another one too which came to us the same way. We don’t shop for them, they find us. You see them on eBay for crazy amounts!

    I guess these people want to get rid of them but make sure they go to a good home?
    Yeah, well the theory is that if it comes here, we’ll keep it oiled and in good working condition. We’re not going to scrap it, it’s not for display purposes, it’s actually going to get used. The guy that sold us one of the presses was a big believer in that printing was a fraternity and how it’s a really important part of society and that it needs to be maintained. He believed that printing was crucial to human development and it can’t be lost, it must be passed on and continued. He also used to hold the world record for Gallagher, the arcade video game. Printing people are weird!

    How do people find you usually, is it through the internet or from the street?
    It’s probably word-of-mouth and the internet. We make sure the website is up to date and use things like Instagram.

    Your shop front is one huge window, is it off-putting when people peek in?
    We specifically chose a place with a shop front. There’s a message on the door about having to book an appointment to see us so it doesn’t bother us much. If it were a cafe or we set up a retail store in the front, we would have to be here all the time, we didn’t want that. We open whenever we feel like it. We did have a doorbell but someone stole it.

    That’s a weird thing to steal!
    Yeah, they took all of the doorbells along High Street.

    How is it living in the same place that you work?
    It’s good, especially when it’s raining. We don’t have to go anywhere in the mornings and when you know you’re not going to be out in the front here, you can totally wear your slippers to work.

    For more information on Simon & Jenna or to collaborate on a print project with them, visit The Hungry Workshop online.

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  4. 13 Reasons Australia Kicks Ass

    March 8, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    van times australia-53

    For sixteen days in June, we roadtripped in a Wicked van across the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Brisbane. Hannah and I teamed up with her old roommate from university in Leeds, Tom, for two and half weeks full of debauchery, dick jokes, beans on toast, if anything TOO many perfect beaches, fighting over who had to sit in the middle seat, perfect weather half the time and torrential rains and epic storms the other half, crazy Darwinian animal life, showering in public places, and couchsurfing and interviewing some of the most unforgettable, inspiring folks.

    You’ve already read about a lot of the people we met along the way, including a night of wine and parrots with Mamabake, tasting sweet and spicy homemade chilli sauces with John at the Byron Bay Chilli Company, admiring the beauty of collected oddities with Maria at Real Creative Design, chatting entrepreneurship and giving design students a platform in the real world with Frankie Ratford and The Design Kids, dreamy surfer seascapes with Christie Rigby, eating our hare krishna hearts out at Heart & Halo , ogling all the local goodies at the Byron Bay Farmers Market and meeting and being interviewed ourselves by food writer Victoria Cosford.

    So there’s the meat of the matter. But what tied all these incredible stories together was the fact that we had our own set of wheels for the first time on the entire trip. And the van was unforgettable for numerous reasons..

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    We visited Tom who was living in Sydney and tore up the city for a week while planning out our next moves. We knew we wanted to see the coast, and we also knew we wanted to do it as cheaply as possible since none of us were rolling in the dough.

    We decided to go with Wicked Campers because they were young and vulgar like us, and because they gave The Eat Team a sweet discount (thanks John!). Wicked has a special where if you show up to pick up your van naked, they give you an extra day for free. Try as we might, Hannah and I couldn’t convince Tom to join us in clothes-free savings, much to the dismay of the Wicked employee who helped us with our paperwork that day. Marcus told us that not enough people came in naked. We comiserated. Then we hopped in the van and headed straight to the Blue Mountains.

    We don’t know if Wicked chose our specific van because of The Eat Team’s foodie project, but it really couldn’t have suited us any better. One side read “FORK YEH!” with a graffiti mural of a fork and spoon. We soon discovered the fork and spoon were actually depicted copulating, which although may have embarrassed us at times when passing by schoolchildren, primarily added to our enjoyment of it because we love dirty jokes almost as much as we love food. So, a perfect fit.

    Australia is MASSIVE and so a lot of our trip was driving through empty stretches of nature, not passing a single car. And the route we took was only a tiny portion of one coast. It continually blows my mind how massive the country is.

    So that was our trip. It was wild, beautiful, sleep-deprived, smelly, intense, and unforgettable. Should you do it? Most certainly without a doubt motherfuckin’ YES.

    van times australia-7

    van times australia-9

    van times australia-39

    It would be hard (read “boring”) to try and recap every day’s details for you, so I’ll give you a short and sweet list of my favorite memories from Roadtrip Australia:
    1. Seeing Koala and Kangaroo signs along the roads
    2. Stopping at 7-Eleven every day for $1 coffees. Getting angry when we were in the boonies without any 7-Eleven’s about to sustain our addiction.
    3. Spotting crazy Darwinian wildlife all over the place–giant sea birds, small fat sea stars, flying foxes hanging from the trees in obscene numbers, and yes, wild Kangaroos!
    4. Learning about why so many koalas have chlamydia at the Koala Hospital. Oh and seeing insanely cute koalas up close and personal.
    5. Watching our tour guide at said Koala Hospital, who I swear was actually Betty White
    6. Not getting bitten by sandflies and mosquitos since we were there during winter (was fucking cold though, you probably wouldn’t imagine!)
    7. Getting my nickname “Fat Mel” because I was always a mile behind Tom and Hannah on hikes. “It’s like having a fat friend!”
    8. Too many perfect beaches to count. It was literally boring selecting photos for this section because I just took 400 pictures of the same landscapes, trying and failing miserably at getting across the real beauty of Australia. It’s pretty much exactly like California’s coast, only on steroids times 100 and for much longer stretches at a time.
    9. Couchsurfing: with our friends of friends Shorty, Sam and Paleo Pete, the cameraderie of good people and tasty cooking. With Ella in Bellingen, roasting marshmallows with her granddaughter and warming up with soup by the fire; with Hamish, making homemade sushi; wining and dining with Chris and his kitty in Port Macquarie;
    10. Dipping our toes in Never Never Land (no seriously that’s what its called), the most pristine hidden lake I’ve ever seen, chatting about how traveling has evolved with Ella, how couchsurfing shapes our experiences and how hitchhiking shaped hers when she was our age.
    11. Dragging Tom to artsy things and interviews, and just annoying him in general all day every day.
    12. Van cooking. There’s going to be a whole segment with our van recipes in the book. I’m excited. You should be too. Basically we ate a lot of beans and eggs and toast. Be prepared for resourcefulness.
    13. Coming back to civilization after 16 days on the road.. surreal and disorientating to say the least.

    Lessons learned: A group that travels together is like family–you’ve gotta stop thinking “me” and start thinking about the big picture of “us”. What’s good for the whole? I also learned that a hot shower, a warm meal, and a friendly conversation go a long, long way when you’ve gone a couple days without. I do solemnly swear to pay it forward to couchsurfers!

    van times australia-65

    van times australia-113

    van times australia-124

     

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  5. Dinner With Aboriginal Dietician: Robyn Delbridge

    February 7, 2013 by The E.A.T. Team

    top photo robyn delbridge-20

    ON THE MENU 
    Sweet Potato Salad, Almond Lemon Butter Cake
    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Robyn Delbridge, Aboriginal Dietician
    After 16 days on the road driving up Australia’s east coast from Sydney to Brisbane, we waved goodbye to our Wicked rental van and hopped on a plane to Melbourne. We couchsurfed with perhaps the coolest group of people in the whole city. After learning about The Eat Team, our fearless Melbourne leader, Nathan, introduced us to his sister Robyn, a dietician for the aboriginal population in Victoria.

    We met Robyn on a blustery winter’s day where she was finishing her shift at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Center and headed out together towards her home into the suburbs of Melbourne. We popped by the friendly local butcher before heading back to her place to cook.

    Nathan and Robyn’s parents joined us for an evening chock full of incredible Australian cheese and wine and we picked Robyn’s brain together after a mega-meal of sweet potato salad and lemon butter cake.

    We were fascinated to learn more about the aboriginal culture, and Robyn has an incredible firsthand look into the lives of the aboriginal population in Victoria. We learned about some of the effects that the trauma inflicted upon much of the aboriginal population by the Australian government in the very recent past, and how modern day Australia is trying to move forward in a positive direction.

    We were fascinated to hear about some of the projects Robyn has undertaken through the Victorian Aboriginal Health Center, such as an original cookbook, running community kitchens, a radio show to educate people on food, a kids’ fitness program, and a diabetes awareness group. We were blown away by her efforts. Read on for her story.

    I’m a Dietitian because I love food. I love people and I love food. If people are cooking then I’m pretty happy.

    collage - robyn delbridge

    What does a Dietitian do?
    Lots of different things. We can work in community centers, hospitals,
    privately, or in industry. Aboriginal health is a niche.

    Did you always want to work with Aboriginals?
    I wanted to work in food from the age of 16. Everyone I knew who was a chef
    was hooked on speed to help them get through the long hours, so I went to
    Uni instead to become a Dietitian. It was during my studies that I
    discovered that I wanted to work with Aboriginal people.

    You help them achieve what they want to achieve?
    Yes, which is good but it can be really challenging because the Aboriginal
    Health Service is raised up out of Aboriginal people not getting adequate
    health care from hospitals and GP’s. They advocated to the Government for
    years and years to start their own health services. The one in Sydney was
    the first, Melbourne is the second.

    How long ago was this?
    40 years next year.

    Everyone can be healthier than they are but no one is ever going to be perfect.

    It’s a fairly recent thing then?
    Well, Aboriginal people only got the vote in 1969. Before that they were
    counted as animals. The board of directors of the Aboriginal Health Service
    are voted in by the wider community, all of the managers are Aboriginal and
    about 80% of our staff. Obviously when you need the expertise, for example
    doctors, there are plenty of Aboriginal doctors but there’s more that aren’t
    so you have to hire other people as well.

    How do you find your clients?
    The Health Service is part of the community, it’s the heart of it and is
    owned by them. People just know about it.

    Is it free for people to get involved?
    Yes, totally free.

    Is it Government funded?
    Yes, along with other organizations. We get Government funding for specific
    things. When we wrote a cook book last year we got $8,000 from the local
    council and this year got another $16,000 from a foundation to reprint it.

    What’s the cook book about?
    Oh, it was really fun! There’s a lot of cook books made for people in
    Western Australia but when I used them here people said, ‘That’s really
    great, but they’re not from here!’ We wanted our own and ownership of ours
    so we wrote them. We invited the community from the whole of Victoria to
    submit their favorite family recipes on a budget, plus we put in a few of
    our own, and we wrote lunchbox ideas and fun sandwich fillings. Some of it
    has a traditional twist and some of it is just healthier versions of meals
    that are really easy to cook on a budget. The challenge in Melbourne is that
    not many Aboriginal people actually eat traditional food because they tend
    to eat what everyone else does. Whereas, up North, in Western Australia, and
    parts of Queensland people eat traditional foods all of the time. For us
    it’s part of peoples identity but it’s not part of their everyday.

    What was your role in it?
    We had a project manager that I worked alongside and checked for
    healthiness. We cooked all of the recipes and took photos of them.

    Is it available to look at anywhere?
    Well, it was for the community so we gave them away. We printed off
    1,000 of the first edition, which we gave away. Then got the money to print
    2,000 copies, which we want to give away, and also make available to sell to
    other organizations. We’re in the middle of editing for edition 2.

    What are the Community Kitchens that you run?
    It’s groups of people who come together with a facilitator, who is usually a
    volunteer. We meet weekly and cook. The principal is that participants put
    in for the amount of serves that they want, so if you just want to put in
    for your own lunch it might be $2, or if you’re wanting to take some home it
    might be $10. Then we design what to cook and go shopping together and cook
    it all up. We were doing it a little bit differently as we were paying the
    facilitator to provide employment and we were paying for the food. We ran
    those for two years. There was a young peoples group for kids that had
    dropped out of school. We had a Dads group who went on to start their own
    company doing catering for events. Then we did a Mums group too. I oversaw
    all three of these kitchens and they all got opportunities to cook for
    different community events and we did the food handlers safety
    qualifications with them. It went really well. It was really intense but
    really good. There’s still positive talk about it now but the funding we had
    wasn’t going to be renewed so it stopped.

    We invited the community from the whole of Victoria to
    submit their favorite family recipes.

    How about your radio program?
    Yeah, that was really fun! We did a program on the local indigenous radio
    station with the breakfast show host. He also worked for my organization and
    he said to come along. Every Monday morning we had a different theme. We’d
    talk about nutrition and how to cook. We had a recipe that we spoke about
    which then went on the website where people could download it. It was mixed
    media, which we hadn’t ever done before but it meant we could track how many
    hits the recipe page was getting, and it got heaps every week! We were able
    to do surveys online and [due to the radio show] people actually made
    changes. More fruit, less soft drink. Anthony, the host was really cool as
    he knew nothing about the topic and so he asked such good questions. Usually stupid ones that no
    one would ever dare ask but everyone thinks, but if you’ve never cooked you
    wouldn’t know the answers to them. Things like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know an onion
    was a vegetable!’ One time we were talking about salt and how it raises your
    blood pressure, and he said, ‘So, if you’re in the ocean and you drink the
    sea water, does that mean your blood pressure will go up?’ If you’re in the
    ocean and you’re drinking the water you might be drowning, in which case
    your blood pressure would definitely go up! …And then from the salt as
    well! He wasn’t even being smart and sometimes I could see how it could
    apply. Unfortunately he passed away.

    The radio host?
    Yeah, it was really sad. He was only 44 or something.

    Another Aboriginal person dying extremely young…
    Yes. The station lost their manager, their breakfast host and their most
    popular person.

    Could you tell us about circus too?
    There’s a company called Westside Circus. (www.westsidecircus.org.au) They
    do social circus dealing with confidence skills and fitness. We play lots of
    healthy eating related games with kids. For example, we do what used to be
    called ‘Sausage rolls’ as you’d lay out and roll down the mat, now we call
    it the ‘carrot roll.’

    Is it kids from an Aboriginal school?
    They’re preschoolers from families that go to Aboriginal play groups.

    Are there any other projects that you’re working on at the moment?
    We have Diabetes Club, which is a support and education group for people
    with Type 2 Diabetes. It’s every fortnight for the whole year, most of the
    groups are every week for six weeks but ours is all year.
    People kind of ‘do life’ together so that’s pretty cool. Last week we did
    label reading, which is super important. Breakfast cereals was the example
    so every one had a different one and we went through the nutritional
    information panel and wrote the ones with the best energy or fat content. It
    taught people how to compare the foods they eat at home. One time I brought
    in sugar-free candy, sweetened with Xylitol.

    Is that good for you?
    It’s like Diet Coke.

    Is that good for you?
    It’s still a ‘sometimes food’ but it’s better for you than Coke! It’s
    sweetened with aspartame.

    Is Aspartame better?
    Yes.

    We’ve heard that if you have too much of it it’s harmful, is that true?
    It’s the most heavily investigated food additive in history. It’s still
    considered safe for human consumption. However, people still believe that
    it’ll give you lung cancer, brain tumors, etc.

    Why, because it’s not sugar?
    Yes, but we eat the most ridiculous additives! I especially love it when
    people say they won’t drink Diet Coke while smoking a cigarette!
    I’m like, you know there’s all sorts of horrible things in your cigarettes?!

    What’s the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
    A Dietitian is more highly qualified. The issue is that people can do a 6
    week course and call themselves a Nutritionist. Although, as of last year,
    there’s an Accredited Nutritionist Qualification, which is more like a
    degree. A Dietitian has either done a 4 year degree or a masters and we can
    do what’s called Medical Nutrition Therapy, which is therapy for diseases
    and conditions.

    What is your food philosophy?
    Wow, that’s very Master Chef! I’m a Dietitian because I love food. I love
    people and I love food. There are other Dietitians that come from different
    perspectives, they might love science. If people are cooking then I’m pretty
    happy. Everyone can be healthier than they are but no one is ever going to
    be perfect. Some Dietitians get worried about eating food in front of
    people.

    I don’t get worried about
    getting too bogged down in the detail, I just meet people where they’re at
    and help them with the thing that they need at that time.

    They feel that they’re not allowed to eat?
    Yeah. In my job, we cook and eat together. I have clients that bring me
    doughnuts to appointments! I think they figure that if I worry about my own
    weight then I don’t have to worry about theirs. I don’t get worried about
    getting too bogged down in the detail, I just meet people where they’re at
    and help them with the thing that they need at that time.

    Would you say that when you’re cooking with somebody it makes them more
    willing to talk about their problems?
    Yeah!

    And obviously it’s not always about food, it’s a buffer to lead on to more
    things?
    Yes. A Dietitian should have a co-degree in counseling! It’s amazing what
    comes out when you’re just talking about food with clients. It’s more about
    the psychology of food. People eat for a reason and obviously hunger is one
    of them, but there’s so many more. Especially the dieting mentality of women
    who are desperate to weigh themselves, they are so much more than just a
    number on the scales! Whatever they tell you you have to just go with it.
    Sexual abuse, rape, assault, domestic violence, being removed from your
    family, being in foster care, being food deprived, all sorts of horrible
    things. A lot of these people are victims of the Child Removal Program,
    which was running in Australia until the 1980′s.

    Where did they put them?
    In white families.

    That’s shocking! It’s interesting that anytime you have a problem it effects
    every area of your life and obviously that would include food.
    Exactly. If there’s been a change in someones eating, there’s got to have
    been a reason. Anything from moving house to a relationship breakdown,
    there’s pressure and anxiety. You have to keep in mind that I don’t work
    with the majority of Australia, I work with an extreme pocket.

    What’s your favorite ‘sometimes food’?
    Lemon meringue pie, Atomica Caffé Lemon and Pistachio cake
    (www.atomicacoffee.com.au), pancakes with lemon butter.

    What’s your favorite ‘everyday food’, bananas?
    I hate bananas! They’re really good for you and I recommend them to lots of
    people but I hate them. I’d say that bell peppers and pumpkin are my favorites.

    Are there certain foods that people often assume are good for them when
    really they’re not?
    Nutri-Grain.

    A Dietitian should have a co-degree in counseling! It’s amazing what comes out when you’re just talking about food with clients. It’s more about
    the psychology of food. People eat for a reason and obviously hunger is one
    of them, but there’s so many more.

    Oh, like the bars?
    It’s an Australian cereal. It’s advertised as this amazing food for energy.

    It’s just sugar, right?
    It’s just sugar! Muesli bars are another one, it’s just sugar and oats.

    Are they better than Mars Bars?
    Marginally.

    bottom photo robyn delbridge-11

    For more information, please visit:

    http://www.vahs.org.au/

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  6. Cubic Goodies: in.cube8er

    November 29, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    in.cube8er gallery
    ON THE GLOBE
    Brisbane, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Vicki Sinclair, franchise owner

    From kitsch to couture, in.cube8r ® has it all under one roof. We stumbled upon this mini mecca of handmade goods on a walk in Brisbane, just a couple blocks shy of where we spotted Harajuku Gyoza.

    Enticed by the sign outside “90 Brisbane artists under one roof,” we ducked in, hoping we might spot some more great art. The handmade goods were lovely but it was the business itself that captivated us that afternoon.

    Glass boxes full of creative goodies shone like diamonds in the late afternoon sun. Curious, we wandered inside. Brisbane franchise owner Vicki Sinclair welcomed us in with a warm smile and explained the in.cube8r model to us.

    “Each in.cube8r® is home to more than 90 of australia’s top crafters. in.cube8r takes no commission on sales. Each gallery is divided up into glass cubicles, shelves, racks and partitions which artists can lease for a small cost, from as little as $21.00 per week over a 3-month period. in.cube8r is the first and original model of this concept. It is open to anyone who makes things by hand and for anyone who loves buying one-off unique items. There is no commission on items sold; when an item is sold the artist receives 100% of the retail price. in.cube8r® runs like a long-term market; this gives its artists and hand crafters the power over display and price.”

    Isy Galey, creator of in.cube8er, woke up one morning (after another nanny contract had ended, due to children growing up and going to school) and calculated that she had changed close to 25,000 nappies over the last 20 years, so perhaps it was time to fulfill the dream.

    We love the idea of having an affordable platform for both emerging and established artists to display and sell their work.

    For more information, please visit:
    http://www.incube8r.com.au/

    Quotes by incube8er.com.au

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  7. Save The Date: LA Dinnerparty

    October 21, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    We’re throwing a dinnerparty in LA! California, save the date: November 17. Be there or be square. RSVP here.


  8. Harajuku Gyoza

    October 17, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Duck Gyoza, Pork Gyoza, Edamame, Japanese Beer
    ON THE GLOBE
    Brisbane, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Andy Jeffreys, Manager

    A dumpling smiled at me.

    “Look at that logo Hannah! It’s so f#@$ing cute!” Strolling around Brisbane on a sunny afternoon, we doubled back on ourselves to see what was inside this big, sleek, wooden-paneled building with a giant happy dumpling on the front.

    As it turns out, the rest of Harajuku Gyoza is as charming as its cleverly silly logo. Sleek black tables, rows of shiny red barstools, lamps that say “HAI!”, decorative plates designed by a myriad of renowned designers such as our friends at The Hungry Workshop (interview coming soon!), and of course the omnipresent smiling gyoza–the centerpiece of the restaurant, commanding attention and soliciting smiles.

    Luckily, manager Andy Jeffreys had time to meet with us that same day. He told us about Harajuku Gyoza’s beginnings and how it came to be one of the hippest spots in town in under a year. We were hardly surprised to learn that this place was created by two designers, Steven Minon and Matthew Bailey, who are also the founders of Junior design and advertising agency. The way every detail is considered, and the extremely aesthetic nature of it all was not just a happy accident. In my opinion, that’s what makes good design good–it appears seamlessly easy and natural, but in reality it takes planning, experience, and confidence to create such elegant simplicity.

    Fusing their love of charming and playful Japanese harajuku culture with the clean interior design of Japanese gyoza bars, they let their aesthetic and food speak for themselves, and people happily spread the word.

    We also weren’t surprised to learn that Harajuku Gyoza didn’t pay for any formal advertising, yet on their opening night, they were and are still regularly exceeding their seating capacity, with an intense waiting list. How did they get customers lining up for something they knew very little about?

    Again, it’s all about the design. For 7 months prior to opening, they were constructing the inside–pedestrian traffic could see the big smiling logo on the outside, and the inside remained a mystery. It’s like smelling Thanksgiving dinner roasting in the oven all day, your hunger growing stronger and more unbearable by the minute, yet you must wait. And when that bird comes out of the oven, your plate full of steaming vegetables, buttery stuffing, and glistening turkey.. you’re in heaven. They gave the customers a glimpse of good things to come, and kept them waiting. When they finally opened their doors after the better part of a year, people were incredibly eager to see exactly what was behind those doors.

    The staff is another integral part of the success of this place. Andy himself spent several years in Japan teaching English and was a no-brainer when it came to choosing a manager. The friendly waitresses who served us greeted us with big smiles, and welcomed arriving customers in Japanese.

    Harajuku Gyoza still has yet to pay for advertising, but the success only builds. Again, it’s the design. It’s self-propagating. The whole place is just so damn photogenic, people are always tweeting, instagramming, facebooking, and so on–without any incentives or contests or asking on the owner’s part. They simply combined a stunning design with simple, great dumplings. Fusing their love of charming and playful Japanese harajuku culture with the clean interior design of Japanese gyoza bars, they let their aesthetic and food speak for themselves, and people happily spread the word.

    They focused on doing one thing, and doing it well. In design and in dumplings, they executed both flawlessly in our opinion.

    For more information, please visit:
    Harajuku Gyoza
    394 Brunswick Street
    Fortitude Valley, Queensland 4006
    Australia

    www.harajukugyoza.com
    +61738524624

    Thanks to Andy and the Harajuku Gyoza team!

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  9. By The Sea With Christie Rigby

    October 5, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    A chef AND a painter.. my heart be still!

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Surfing seascapes
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Christie Rigby, Painter

    She opened her antique suitcase and out spilled layer upon layer of dreamy waterscapes. Women in the sea, overflowing with power and grace reminiscent of Greek goddesses. Christie Rigby’s paintings are mellow and feminine, yet portray immense confidence and strength.

    Christie was the guest of honor at our dinner with Mamabake, and she graciously invited us to stay with her in Byron Bay. We accepted, and we’re so glad we did.

    We caught her at a very busy time–prepping for an extended trip to Europe, working almost full time at Heart & Halo, curating and framing her paintings and prints for buyers and a group exhibit, painting daily, and trying to squeeze in surfing in the mornings.. her life was packed. Yet somehow she still found time to cook us an incredibly tasty quinoa stir fry (did we mention she’s a trained chef?), show us her studio, and send us in the direction of the industrial estate, where we met Real Creative Design and The Design Kids. Christie was an integral link to our epic Byron Bay experience and we are eternally grateful!

    Christie’s paintings are just like her–calm, expressive, honest, energetic, and all about the sea. The daughter of a fisherman and an artist, it all makes perfect sense to us.

    For more information, please visit:
    http://christieleebythesea.blogspot.com/

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  10. The Design Kids

    August 27, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Graphic design
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Frankie Ratford, Designer

    A stone’s throw away from Real Creative Design Studio, we moseyed over to round 2 of Byron Bay’s industrial estate and to another heaping spoonful of inspiration. Maria of Real Creative walked us there herself and introduced us to Frankie Ratford, the creator of The Design Kids.

    Frankie is all over Australia’s design scene, having worked with Frost in Sydney, studying in Melbourne, managing the Design Kids in Byron Bay, and lecturing in Brisbane. Which is no small feat considering how huge Australia is and how many of those gigs she does simultaneously.

    The Design Kids is a platform for emerging designers and creatives in Australia to sell their work. Frankie helps facilitate real world opportunities for design students to get a taste of what the industry is like outside of the classroom, and she’s doing a kick ass job of it. Their most recent exhibition, the Terrible Twos paired each student with an established studio to collaborate, and the sale of each canvas went to a charity of the student’s choosing. More on the win-win scenarios that Frankie’s created below (and a photo of Frankie’s collaboration from the Terrible Two’s exhibit.. the one with the kitchen stove.)

    Frankie’s fire fueled our own. She’s got a fantastic mix of the necessary design skills, intuition, and business sense to create some serious damage (the good kind, that is). Finding my favorite business book the 4-hour-workweek on her shelf didn’t surprise me in the slightest.

    Keep your eye on this girl. Read on for more about The Design Kids and Frankie’s background.

    I have ‘Frankie Fridays’, I don’t work Fridays. You need time away to do what you want and refresh.

    How did you fund the show?
    I got the space for the show for free and got a drinks sponsor. Desktop magazine got involved too. Sales of the art went to charity and the studios and student got exposure.

    Do you make money from this?
    I lecture 2 days a week in Brisbane.

    When did you move to Australia?
    10 years ago I moved from Bournemouth. I lived in Canada, then studied in Melbourne for 4 years. I worked for Frost in Sydney for 4 years and have been in Byron Bay for 6 months. As soon as I had the resources and had learnt about everything creative, I moved here. I made sure to learn about blogging, teaching, and marketing. Once I had the skills, I moved here to set up the business. As soon as you say you’re looking for work, it snowballs!

    Do you have any tips for emerging designers?
    I would say to stay true to yourself. I have ‘Frankie Fridays’, I don’t work Fridays. You need time away to do what you want and refresh!

    For more information on the Design Kids visit:

    http://thedesignkids.com.au/

    https://www.facebook.com/thedesignkids

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