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‘Australia’ Category

  1. Featured in The Echo

    August 6, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Hannah and I are so excited about our feature in this week’s issue of The Byron Shire Echo. We happened to meet the lovely and oh-so-talented Victoria Cosford at the Byron Bay Farmer’s Market and we’re very pleased to share her article. (Click the images to enlarge and read.)

    Big thanks to Victoria and The Echo for your wonderful feature! What an honor!

    Victoria Cosford is the author of the gastro-memoir ‘Amore and Amaretti’ and is a writer for the Byron Shire Echo, Sample magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and 2011′s inaugural SMH ‘Good Pub Food Guide. To learn more about her and what she does, visit her website La Vittoria. Her book is available for sale online at Wakefield Press.

    Visit and read the rest of this week’s issue of The Byron Shire Echo online at The Echo Online.

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  2. MamaBake

    July 24, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Hannah bonded with the MamaBake parrot.. maybe.
     
    ON THE MENU 
    Beef Stew
    ON THE GLOBE
    Lennox Head, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Michelle Shearer, MamaBake founder

    Working together benefits our friends, our families, and our children.

    MamaBake is a community of mothers who cook big batches together so that, at the end of the night, each mama goes home with a few ready meals to serve her family that week. At a most basic level, it saves a busy mom time and frees her from relentless kitchen duties for a bit. On another level, it’s about bringing women together and building a community, experiencing a strength in numbers, and bonding over food. What started as one small group on the east coast of Australia has exploded into pop up communities worldwide.

    We found MamaBake via facebook during our 17-day campervan trip up the east coast, and messaged them asking if there were any MamaBake meetups going on. Within an hour, we had an invitation to dinner and a home to sleep in from MamaBake’s founder, Michelle Shearer.

    “WHAT?!” thought Hannah and I in amazed unison. Overwhelmed, once again, by the kindness of strangers and the wonder of the power of the internet, we quickly closed our gaping mouths and worked out a time to meet.

    After two cold and stormy nights sleeping in our campervan, walking into Michelle and Steve’s home was a true treat. It was also an entertaining circus! One of their parrots swiftly landed on top of my head and made itself at home, nestled in my hair and bit my ear. Their sweet baby boy ran around screaming, throwing puzzle pieces, and force-feeding us tortilla chips, and his older sister happily modeled my glasses while recreating a truly superb LA valley-girl accent.

    We sat down to Michelle’s gorgeous Beef Stew dinner with them and a couple of friends, including the lovely and talented Australian surf artist Christie Rigby. We learned a bit about what it takes to be a mum, MamaBake’s history, and how to harness the power of “strength in numbers”. Read on.

    What was the idea behind MamaBake?
    It all started when I was given a lasagne and that made me think immediately of wanting to reciprocate the gesture. I thought about mothering and how we don’t really like to receive help. As mums we like to give the impression that we’re OK, so it’s more like a transaction than a ‘Thank you very much’. There’s not much of a community around motherhood, there’s no real connections. If you look at how the tribes are doing it, women are always working together. In today’s society the numbers of mothers with depression and mental issues after childbirth is surprising. MamaBake is bringing community home and back to where it needs to be. When mothers bring that home they actually find themselves liberated. It’s so simple, try it and see what happens! It’s group big batch baking and it’s gone bonkers across Australia.

    How did you come up with the name ‘MamaBake’?
    I guess it was fairly self-explanatory. It really was the first thing that came to mind.

    Do you do it here in Lennox Head?
    Yes. We do it here in this house. We’ve got groups all over.

    When was the first one?
    The first one was in February 2009.

    What was the first strand and how did it spawn in to such a huge movement?
    It started in real life with a group of 4 people. Those 4 people told their friends.

    How did the idea of MamaBake spread?
    It started here. I posted a group on Facebook and it grew from there. I guess people just thought it was a good idea and talked about it.

    Did you intend to start such a big movement?
    Not really. I’m just a small part of something that represents a much bigger picture. I think we’re all looking for a new way of doing things. We’re sick of striving for the wide screen TV.

    Do you enjoy cooking?

    It started in real life with a group of 4 people. Those 4 people told their friends.

    I do enjoy it and I enjoy raising my kids but there are days when you just need a break.

    I can imagine it’s isolating to be at home so much of the time taking care of children?
    Yes it can be. Many mothers have moved away from family and friends and we tend to bunker down when we have small children. MamaBake brings much needed community and support where it’s needed most as well as lightening the woman’s domestic burden.

    Do you make sure all of the food you’re making is natural?
    We [MamaBake] get together groups of women and they work out between them what their food values are; it might be a group of women who are really passionate about organic produce, then there might be another group whose main goal is to cut costs.

    Its hard to really know what a mum does until you are one. How do people know how to be before motherhood happens?
    Exactly! We should be telling people now and forming communities. I believe that it’s my generation who is bringing mums together. The next generation will bring the previous generation in to it too. What MamaBake is doing is demonstrating how community can work together. Sometimes we have over 40 women come together plus all of their children, they are there seeing their mothers working as a group, that’s a really powerful legacy.

    Sometimes we have over 40 women come together plus all of their children, they are there seeing their mothers working as a group, that’s a really powerful legacy.

    So the idea of MamaBake is not about food but about the sense of community it brings? Working together to make something greater than the individual part?
    It’s bringing the meaning back to mothering. It’s absolutely essential to every point in our society. It’s bringing it home. We’re focusing on the cooking as food is a chore that mothers have to think about all the time. You can’t quit just because you’re tired or sick, you have to keep going, you need community and other mothers to back you up. Working together benefits our friends, our families, and our children.

     

     

    For more information on Mamabake, visit:

    The Mamabake website.

    The MamaBake on facebook

    And don’t forget to check out MamaBake’s Big Batch Recipe e-book Cookbook

     

    Special thanks to Michelle, Steve, the Shearer kids and Christie Rigby.

    
    

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  3. The Raw Sisters

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

    ON THE GLOBE
    Melbourne, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Yui Yamashita of The Raw Sisters

    Yui got in touch with us about her new project, The Raw Sisters, after our friends at the Hungry Workshop letterpress told her about The Eat Team. We sat down to chat with her at Nothern Soul cafe in Thornbury, Melbourne. Yui and her partner in crime Missy started the Raw Sisters vegan and vegetarian pop-up and catering duo with a bang–they served over 100 folks at their first gig which only whet their appetite to serve the Melbourne community. They’re brand new and the future looks bright ahead. Check out their beautiful video (see below) from the event at St. Kilda Organic Food Co-op and read on for Yui’s insights on the Raw Sisters project, eating raw, and life as an occupational therapist.

    Raw SistersC from Yui Yamashita on Vimeo.

    How did the Raw Sisters start?
    We did a raw food demo at a vegan festival that my friend and her partner organised. We did raw sushi and raw avocado juice. Some guy came up to us and asked if we wanted to do a catering event. We had no idea that we wanted to do catering but thought it would be fun, so we said yes. He didn’t get back to us for ages and then a few weeks ago he said that the event is happening soon and asked if we were still interested. We quickly made up a business card and menu for our meeting with him. We bought everything and cooked for a whole day. We’d love to do more catering, or even cooking classes. We love food and want to share our passion.

    What was the event that you did the catering for?
    St Kilda Organic Food Co-op. Unfortunately they were closing and wanted to have a big ‘Thank you’ event for all of the people who had been involved. Everyone was invited so we had to cater for kids and adults. We did raw salads, hummus and beetroot dip, garlic bread, ‘mac and cheese’, home made wedges, roast veg, sweet potato soup, Moroccan stew, carrot pilaf, and for dessert we did chocolate brownie and caramel apple cake with banana ice cream.

    Do you, and your business partner Missy, both lead a raw lifestyle?
    Missy is maybe 80% raw. In winter I’m 50% raw. We’re both vegan and we try to eat organic.

    Have you ever eaten meat?
    I used to when I was in High School. I stopped after I turned 17 or so. I went on this school trip for a month and every meal was meat! After that I said to my parents that I didn’t want any more. These days my reasons have changed to environmental issues and how eating meat consumes a lot of energy and uses water.

    Are there any meals that you used to eat that you now miss?
    No. There’s a lot of fake meat products on the market now. I went to Gasometer at the weekend and had a chicken parma. Some of the products you can buy are really processed though, so I would rather eat beans, quinoa or grains.

    Is Missy your actual Sister?
    No. I met her through a mutual friend. She went to New Zealand for High School and then came over here for Uni. She’s a photographer. We got really close and started talking about food. As you know, food connects people.

    How did you think of the name ‘Raw Sisters’?
    At work we call all the girls ‘Sisters’ and thought that ‘Raw Sisters’ would be fitting.

    What’s your job?
    I work as a Community Mental Health Worker, I’m an Occupational Therapist. It’s a totally separate thing.

    It’s not just about chopping and eating a salad, it’s about dehydrating it or making it a smoothie or thinking up new combinations.

    How did you get in to raw foods?
    I’ve always been into health and healthy foods. I found out about raw food through blogs and I’ve been eating raw since spring of last year. This will be my first winter.

    Have you noticed a difference in your health?
    Definitely! I’ve got so much more energy and feel really good inside. The general idea of raw food is that because you don’t cook it, the enzymes aren’t broken down so it’s in it’s most natural form. You get the most benefits from all of the vitamins that way. There’s different views on it, some people find it easier to digest, and some harder because it’s so raw. It depends on how you prepare it. It’s not just about chopping and eating a salad, it’s about dehydrating it or making it a smoothie or thinking up new combinations. Personally I get a lot out of eating raw food. I find it works best for me if I eat a portion of raw food and then cooked food as well.

    What would you eat on an average day?
    This might sound weird but I don’t have breakfast. For lunch I’ll make a green smoothie to start my digestive system going. If I’m working I’ll have a sandwich of sourdough bread with lots of raw food on top, maybe sliced pumpkin, beetroot, kale, avocado, with a bit of hemp seed butter. For dinner would be a salad, lentil or bean soup, or quinoa patties or something.

    Is it hard to find restaurants that cater for your diet?
    Whenever I go out I do my research. I think Melbourne is quite good with vegan food and places seem happy to take the cheese out, or whatever you ask.

    What’s your favourite food to prepare or eat raw?
    I really like my kale salad with a nutty dressing and for dessert I love raw cheesecake.

    Are you hoping one day to have a cafe or a shop?
    Yeah, a cafe would be amazing. Missy and her partner are going to move house soon and hopefully open a cafe.

    Will this become a full-time thing then?
    I’m passionate about my work so this is good as a side project for now.

    Would you like to continue to do events?
    Yeah! They’re really fun. The event that we did last time, we got to meet a lot of people and they had so many compliments. To see them making that connection with food, and talking to them about it, was great.

    Have you converted anyone to the raw lifestyle?
    I have a massive influence at work. I’m really passionate about organic eating as well so I tell all of the girls. Organic farming is so much better for the environment too. Through the events we have a little blurb about how it’s so much better for us.

    Where do you get your ingredients from?
    I get a box delivered from Ceres. They do a fair food co-op. It’s not that they grow everything there but get it from local farmers. Also, Naturally on High on High Street . We got most of our catering ingredients from there, they’re really good.

    Did you have a foodie upbringing?
    Not really. My Mum is such a ordinary cook. That’s maybe why I’m about experimenting and making new things. I don’t like to cook two of the same things twice. I love baking as well.

    If someone was wanting to get involved in the raw food diet, what’s an easy recipe to start them off?
    I think the juices and smoothies are a really good place to start. You just throw everything in; vegetables and green leaves. Just give it a try!

    What’s the one thing you want to do before you die?
    Travel. Build my own house. I watch a lot of Grand Designs and England and France seem open to the ‘eco’ style of living. Somewhere in Europe would be nice.

    To get in touch with Yui or book The Raw Sisters, email rawsisters@live.com.au

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  4. Heart & Halo

    July 10, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Curry & Chai
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Tusta, Head Chef at Heart & Halo

    On a bright and sunny Byron Bay day we sat down with Tusta, head chef of Heart & Halo, a hare-krishna inspired restaurant. His tangy home brewed chai awakened our senses (and tastebuds) and the beautiful curry really did remind us of family cookin’. It was hearty, wholesome, and downright delicious. We’ll let the photos, his description, and the interview speak for themselves.

    It’s basic human nature to look after each other.

    “Heart & Halo offers a wide variety of global vegetarian dishes with distinct Indian Ayurvedic influences. Tusta, the head chef brings over 20 years of experience and adds his own flavour and style to all meals he prepares. Tusta has travelled to many places of the world but it is his love of India that has influenced his cooking the most. All meals are vegetarian and will tempt even the most fussiest of eaters.
    Heart & Halo sources only the freshest spices, beans and grains to ensure the fullest of flavour. Only healthy oils are used for cooking and Himalayan salt is used to help improve your wellbeing.

    The best local & organic produce is used when and where ever possible to make our fabulous vegetarian meals.

    Heart & Halo offers an amazing range of great value Curries, Vegetable Baked Dishes, Hearty Lentil and Vegie Soups, Rice, Bean and Grain Dishes, the freshest salads and a selection of mouth watering drinks, sweets and snacks.

    All that we prepare and offer contains only the best ingredients including Himalayan Salt. With 84 trace minerals, your body will benefit even long after your meal is complete.

    Heart & Halo only uses oils that are good for you, not the common oils that may leave carcinogenic residue in your body.

    But above all, Heart & Halo food is prepared and served with LOVE to benefit you and our beautiful community.”

    They are always wholesome foods that remind you of home.

    Why did you decide to open a restaurant here in Byron Bay?
    I realised that local people want down to earth, quality food. There are a lot of health shops offering organic produce but they tend to be very expensive. I opened Heart & Halo to offer the local people exactly that but at affordable prices.

    Could you name some of the produce that you use here at Heart & Halo?
    We use organic Himalayan salt and cold press oils to improve my customers well-being.

    Why do you think it’s so important to use organic produce?
    It’s basic human nature to look after each other, and by growing foods organically, it’s simply looking after something that looks after us. It’s really nurturing through food. Festivals and celebrations are based around feasts and sharing, food is so important to so many cultures so it’s only right that we respect it.

    Are you vegetarian?
    Yes, by the time I was 17 or 18 I was over meat. I had worked in cafes and restaurants in Sydney and was sick of the smell, oil, and fat. There’s a huge disconnection between people and meat these days. They only see it in cellophane.

    What inspired you to open Heart & Halo?
    The idea came together after I had travelled. I’m a believer in indigenous cooking and the way it’s made with love. They are always wholesome foods that remind you of home. Backpackers come here and say that ‘it tastes like home’, which is great. I loved how diverse the diets were in India. How they live is just amazing! Too many people live on land that’s half the size of Australia, and they manage it in harmony. I believe it’s because they are all working for the same reason, whether it be a group or family unit. I was looking for something real to do, so naturally I thought of feeding people.

    So you teamed your beliefs and travel discoveries together to create Heart & Halo?
    It’s not about me, it’s about the food. There’s no ego here, not like MasterChef! I didn’t create it, I’m just passing the message on through the love and appreciation of food. I’m so thankful of the opportunity I have been given to spread the love through the food I serve.

    For more information on Heart & Halo, please see:

    Heart & Halo Good Food Bar

    Shop 4/14 Middleton Street
    (Corner of Byron Street & Middleton Streets – underneath the Budget Motel)
    Byron Bay NSW 2481

    Ph: 02 6685 6685

    Email: love@heartandhalo.com

    Special thanks to Tusta & Christie for making this happen.

    
    

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  5. Byron Bay Chilli Co.

    July 1, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Byron Bay Chilli Sauce on OzyMex Tacos, Nachos, & Burritos
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    John Boland, Co-Founder of Byron Bay Chilli Co. & OzyMex Restaurant


    If you grow chillies you realize that the sunnier the season or the sunnier the place where you plant them, the hotter the chilli. It’s converting sunlight in to heat – like a little packet of sun.


    John “The Chilli Dude” Boland moved from California to Australia many moons ago and, together with his wife Lynne, helped pioneer a movement in Australia for chilli sauce and Mexican food. He generously invited us to come to his OzyMex shop to sample his line of epic sauces (our favorites were Fiery Coconut and Smokin’ Mango) on fresh home-made tortilla chips, tacos, quesadillas and a big heapin’ burrito. These classic culinary “hole-in-the-wall” delights reminded me of the traditional Mexican food from my hometown of Los Angeles, with a twist of that California and Australian love for fresh, healthy ingredients.

    His infectious energy and positive vibes spill over into everything he does–the sauces and food are scrumptious to say the least and the fact that he loves what he does after so many years makes us love his products that much more.

    He range of sauces range from mild and sweet to tangy and burnin’ hot. He’s a strong believer in being able to taste the ingredients of the sauce and not just a feeling of “HOT HOT HOT!”

    We loved hearing his story and we think you will too.

    Do you have any advice for anybody wanting to get into the sauce business?
    Don’t give up your day job. No, but seriously, there’s been an awful
    lot of things done in the last ten years so you have to try! There’s a
    great show in Albuquerque, New Mexico called The Fiery Foods Show and it’s a great place to meet people in the industry. Everyone is there. We’ve been a whole bunch of times.
    It’s a good starting point. You could meet with a fellow called Dave
    DeWitt, he’s the Pope of Peppers and runs the show. You just talk to
    people. It depends whether you want it to be a niche product or a main
    stream product. So long as you have a plan for your sauce.

    Did you have a plan for your sauce?
    We didn’t really know what we were doing, we just started making
    sauce. Then all of a sudden we get a call from this supermarket, so we
    were faced with the prospect of being in the shops. We had to make a
    sauce that was fairly competitive price-wise, ours is premium but
    we’re still in the mass market, not the niche market. I think in
    Australia it’s harder to be in the niche market because there are not as
    many delis – there just isn’t as much of anything. There’s fewer
    people and the distances between them are greater.

    What brought you from California to Byron Bay?
    My Mother was Australian, I came down here to meet my Grandmother and
    just loved it! All of my cousins suggested that I go to Byron Bay,
    saying that it was the top spot. Twenty-five years ago there was a real estate
    agent right across the street, I walked in there and she spent the
    whole day looking around at places and ended up buying a little plot
    in the hills. I grew up in California in the 50′s and 60′s and in many
    ways saw the best times there. Byron Bay felt like that to me. It’s
    getting busier all the time, but not too busy. The beach lifestyle was
    too attractive, plus our kids were young enough to bring over and had
    no choice! [Laughs]

    How did it develop in to the business it is today?
    We saw an opportunity at a local food market to open a Mexican food
    stall. That’s how we got started.

    Are there other Mexican restaurants in Byron Bay?
    Byron Bay had the first Mexican restaurant in Australia, ‘Mexican
    Mick’s’ it was called. It was started by an Englishman. So for a long
    time that was here and then he moved away.


    We’re hoping that a lot more
    people get to try our chilli sauce.

    Where do you make the sauces?
    We have a contract bottler which is up near the Gold Coast, about an
    hours drive away. We looked at having our own factory here but it was
    impossible; Not only too expensive, but the council limitations
    brought all sorts of issues to have a building like that here. You’ll
    find that so many sauces have contract packers.

    How much does the factory make over there, is there a certain number
    of bottles per day?

    They are made to order. We sell about 50 tons a year. Last time I looked
    that’s what it was anyway. Still small but not real small. We get
    about 2 tons made at a time.

    Did you expect Byron Bay Chilli Company to get as big as it has done?
    No, I call it an accidental business. We’re hoping that a lot more
    people get to try our chilli sauce.

    Us too, they’re delicious!
    A few of them are so different that I reckon they should be in every
    Whole Foods supermarket. There’s a place in Texas that would love to
    have our sauces but we don’t have an importer.

    For me there’s a few rules of food. Number one is that the first
    bite is taken with your eyes.

    What’s in store for the next few years for Byron Bay Chilli Company?
    We’re working with people to start a series of these Ozy-Mex stores. The good
    thing about this kind of thing [the hole in the wall shop] is that
    it’s affordable. People can pop in and buy something tasty to eat.
    What we like about this arrangement is that people get to see their
    food made so you get to know exactly what’s going in to it. I was
    inspired by one of my favorite places, I grew up very close to Tijuana on the Mexican border. We used to travel around, mainly
    for the cheap beer. There was a little hole in the wall place and in
    order to get in you had to lift the bench up and squeeze in, it was
    big enough for one person. The owner would make tacos and things while
    you waited on the side walk. I was inspired by that idea – literally a
    hole in the wall. It wasn’t so much about going to sit down and
    spending $50 to eat, it was just something for the people.

    With a hole in the wall style place you’re still close to your vision
    and closer to your customers. When restaurants get too big it becomes
    very impersonal. Maybe they lose sight of the vision a little bit…

    Well, for me there’s a few rules of food. Number one is that the first bite is taken with your eyes. There’s also a feeling that a person
    gives off, you know, the very best food is always served by mom,
    there’s love there. In some small way that’s what we try to convey
    here, even when we’re busy we still try to make people feel like
    they’re not a hassle to us – we’re here to feed them. Then, of course
    once it’s in your mouth it’s got to be good too! It should be
    reasonably healthy, and the ingredients should be ethical.

    Are chillies good for your health?
    Absolutely! I certainly reckon they are and there’s a lot of
    literature about it. They’re a digestive aid, a circulatory aid, they
    make your food taste good, and they make you happy. There’s a lot of
    vitamins in chillies. Chilli is an interesting fruit. Most people
    don’t realize this but it came to Asia after the explorers went to the
    Americas. There were no chillies in Asia prior to that time, so in the
    past 500 years these cultures have totally absorbed the chilli. To me
    it’s packed with sunlight. If you grow chillies you realize that the
    sunnier the season or the sunnier the place where you plant them, the
    hotter the chilli. It’s converting sunlight in to heat – like a little
    packet of sun.

    You make your own corn chips too?
    Yes. We make 10 products in total. We’re looking at a few other
    things, for example combining some of our sauces with other things to
    create new flavors. There’s a bunch of things we hope to do in the
    future. I think we’ve captured a good range of chilli sauces and added
    our own signature to them.

    We love your bottle labels. What inspired them?
    It’s a little bit of paradise. It’s fun and clean.

    Which sauce is your favorite?
    I probably reach for the hottest one these days. I really like it on
    so many things, like poached eggs. I don’t have a favorite child, I
    like them all. Sweet chilli, I reach for that a lot. It just depends
    what I’m eating.

    Do you have a sauce with every meal?
    I’ve always got a basket with one of each sauce in it. We just leave it out.

    Where can people living outside of Australia buy your sauces?
    Come to Byron Bay! We do sell online but postage is very expensive.

    Huge thanks to John for this interview and generosity. For more information and recipes to use his delicious sauces, check out:

    http://www.byronbaychilli.com/

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  6. Life’s Simple On The Flower Farm

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

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Flower Farming
    ON THE GLOBE
    Cradoc, Tasmania, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Sam Calvert

    You don’t have to have a degree to succeed so long as you put the effort in and make it work.

    For three weeks, we had the extreme pleasure of living on the farm in Tasmania with our dear friend from Leeds University, graphic designer Jess Nicholls and her boyfriend, flower farmer Sam Calvert. If we’re being totally honest, we spent a lot more time playing with Sally “Fish” Fisher the sheepdog, drinking copious amounts of latte round the fire, and sampling culinary delights around this foodie island than we did working. But we did spend a couple days creating bunches and bouquets for Mother’s Day and our time there was a one-of-a-kind experience we’ll never forget.

    As a huge computer nerd and internet entrepreneur, I’m on my computer almost all the time (well, when I’m not traveling that is!) and though I love it and don’t want to change, it was refreshing to see and experience this lifestyle. It’s hard work but its straightforward, and when the weather’s good, you’re outside with the dirt and the wind and the sun really experiencing the beauty of the place. During winter, you zone out and get into the pattern of creating bunches, listening to Triple J, Australia’s unbelievably good radio station, and having a ton of laughs with the rest of the farm hands. You’re up and at it at 8am, no need to shower, dress fancy or wear makeup, just head out the front door and into the farm shed out back. Warm up with a hot cup of tea and a fresh buttered crumpet every few hours and the work day ends at 4:30. It’s a great space to rest your mind and work your body. A couple of the workers came to do just that after experiencing a burnout in more mentally challenging working conditions, such as nursing and teaching.

     

    What’s the history of the Bloomin Good Flowers farm?
    Dad was a forester so he spent a lot of time away from home. Mum was a dental nurse so she was out of the house a lot too. They both wanted to do something closer to home. They researched some options before recognizing a gap in the flower market. Dad grew trees and Mum loved gardening so it ‘bloomed’ from there. This must have been about 23 years ago now.

    So, in the beginning they both worked and ran the farm on the side?
    Yes, until they decided to expand, that’s when Mum quit Dental Nursing. Dad never completely quit: he still does his forestry.

    What’s your favorite part of running the flower farm?
    The outdoors, being out in the open air is good. I get to work to my own hours sometimes. It’s really satisfying growing something from nothing and seeing the end product. I find it really rewarding.

    Is this what you wanted to do when you were little?
    Growing up on the farm I knew I would always have the opportunity to do this. When your family has a business, a kid can feel forced in to it but for me it was the opposite. If anything my parents made sure that I explored other avenues rather than going straight from school into working on the farm. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until well after I left school. I thought that I wanted to get involved in the hospitality industry, but after a couple of years I realised that it wasn’t for me, so came back to the farm.

    Are you known locally as ‘Sam the Flower Man’?
    No, just Sam. Although most people know me as Calv.

    Does running a flower farm compromise your masculinity?
    When I was little I used to get teased quite a bit about the farm, kids can be cruel! Now everyone appreciates it.

    Did you bring your teachers flowers in school?
    No.

    How about girlfriends?
    Yeah, a bit of that went on.

    Which of your flowers are the bestsellers?
    The most popular would have to be tulips or lilies. We grow tulips for 8 months of the year. You are able to control them making them easy to force and manipulate. I can know to the day when tulips are going to be ready to pick, whereas lilies can range.

    It has taught me that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, you can achieve anything.

    Do you feel that forcing flower growth out of season might be ethically wrong?
    No. It’s all about trying to produce flowers out of season. Customers can’t get access to them out of their natural season so the demand becomes higher. There are a lot of farms that grow flowers in their natural season as they don’t have the facilities to force the growth. The process of freezing the bulbs and placing them in hot houses is known as ‘vernalization’.

    Is there a lot of competition in the flower farm business?
    There’s only us and one other farm in Tasmania that produces flowers out of season.

    Can you see yourself doing this forever?
    I guess so. I enjoy it but it’s very hard work. It’s a 24/7 job so it can take its toll but if all goes well, I’d like to think that I would carry on for a while yet.

    I love Tassie! I think it’s the lifestyle and people, it’s very relaxed. We’ve got the beaches, mountains, national parks, the weather – it’s all of Australia’s best bits in one state.

    Do you hope that the farm continues to be passed down through the family?
    That would be great! At the moment though it’s tough in all industries due to the global crisis. If I can keep the farm successful long enough to be able to pass it down, that would be ideal.

    What does it take to run a successful flower farm?
    Hard work. Long hours. I’ve found that you need a good crew, you can’t do this by yourself. You also need a lot of luck as there’s so many little things that could go wrong.

    Why should customers buy your flowers over anyone else’s?
    A lot of flowers these days aren’t fresh. At florists or supermarkets the time from picking to being sold could be anything from 10 to 14 days. Here you know they’re fresh. We guarantee them so if people aren’t happy, we offer to replace them. Over the years we’ve built up a good customer base, they know ours are the freshest and tend to last the longest.

    Do you think there will always be a demand for fresh flowers?
    I like to think so. There will always be Mothers Day, Valentines Day, etc. As much as people like to buy other things for these occasions, there will always be a demand for flowers. Weddings and funerals will always happen, I doubt flowers will ever truly be replaced.

    Have you had to make many sacrifices for the farm?
    Well, there’s no such thing as a day off. I don’t get any of the public holidays off. It always seems like I’m at work so I feel like I sacrifice a lot of my personal life. I’m passionate about sport but can’t always find the time to play. It’s a lifestyle choice. You have to be prepared to give up what other people working in 9-5 jobs might take for granted, like weekends and public holidays. There’s always something on the farm that could or does go wrong, so you’re always at work. Flowers don’t know when it’s Christmas Day, I haven’t had one of those for about 8 years!

    If you want to start a small business you’ve got to be willing to go through the ups and downs. You’ve got to be passionate about the business too. If you don’t enjoy it you don’t put the effort in, so you won’t get anything out of it.

    Have the flowers taught you anything?
    I was self taught. I had no qualifications in horticulture or agriculture. They’ve taught me that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, you can achieve anything. You don’t have to have a degree to succeed so long as you put the effort in and make it work.

    What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on the farm?
    A few things I guess. A while ago we had the drug helicopters land here looking to do a drugs bust. They did searches for Marijuana in the hot houses. There’s been a few funny injuries too. I remember when Dad and Ben were building the hot houses, Dad nailed his hand to the wood. Looking back that was pretty funny.

    Are you running the business side of things as well as the farm?
    I do the day to day processes. The management side is also run by me but my Dad oversees it and gives me ideas. So I guess I’m running it, yeah, but with a bit of guidance.

    Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a business?
    If you want to start a small business you’ve got to be willing to go through the ups and downs. You’ve got to be passionate about the business too. If you don’t enjoy it you don’t put the effort in, so you won’t get anything out of it.

    Who has been the most inspirational character in your life so far?
    Denzel Washington.

    What is it about Denzel that you admire?
    His talent. He was one of the first African American actors to win an Academy Award too, he’s a pioneer! I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without Denzel or Michael Bolton.

    Have you got a preferred song that you like to listen to whilst bunching a bouquet?
    Put on anything old school, up-beat and 80′s and I’ll be happy!

    What hearty food do you eat daily to make sure you don’t go hungry whilst working?
    It depends on the season. In winter I like a good pie or noodles – anything hot. In summer I tend to eat a lot of salad rolls.

    Could you please explain what the job involves for anyone wanting to work on the farm whilst in Australia?
    Our farm is great for travellers wanting to get visas. The time of year to apply would be October to March/April. It’s dirty work, so you have to be prepared for that. We’re always on the lookout for keen people wanting to help out.

    What makes a perfect employee here on the farm?
    You have to have common sense and a lot of it! It helps if you’re practical and the outdoorsy type, it’s a dirty job.

    What do you think makes the Cradoc area and Tasmania in general so special?
    I love Tassie! I think it’s the lifestyle and people, it’s very relaxed. We’ve got the beaches, mountains, national parks, the weather – it’s all of Australia’s best bits in one state. For some reason it’s got a bad reputation so people stay away but it’s got so much to offer.

    If you’re in the area, Bloomin’ Good have a flower stall at the Salamanca Market (7am-3pm).
    You’ll find them opposite the Republic Café on the corner of Montpellier Street.

    http://www.bloomingoodflowers.com/

    Tel: + 61 (0) 439 681 654
    Email: bloomingoodflowers@hotmail.com

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  7. Tasmania’s Controversial Museum

    June 18, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Tasmania is, despite erroneous myths of inbreeding and being overrun by hillbillies, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Generally a peaceful, quiet rural island full of great fresh food from local farmers and stunning natural beauty, you wouldn’t expect to find one of the most shockingly un-vanilla art museums in the world on the island. Chock full of penises, macabre, and unexplained homages to pop stars, this museum is an odd-for-its-setting but refreshing and intriguing place.

    MONA was officially opened on 21 January 2011. $100 million museum owned by David Walsh, it is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. The impressive building in Berriedale took more than three years to complete and is as interesting as the art it contains. At the end of the vineyard-lined driveway, visitors are greeted with an amazing view of Hobart and the first surprise – a rooftop tennis court speckled with giant Mickey Mouse-esque glove shaped seats.

    The building itself, designed by the Melbourne architect Nonda Katsalidis and built by Hansen Yuncken, is an engineering feat – three levels underground, carved into the sandstone cliffs of Berriedale Peninsula. Inside is a labyrinth of spiral staircases, lifts and foot bridges. There are concrete floors, beautiful wooden benches and beanbags offering guests a place to sit and digest the works on show.

    At the bottom of the staircase sits a bar serving Moorilla wines and Moo Brew, which are both made onsite. Walsh positioned the bar here stating that, “You’re here to have a good time”. He believes that the understanding of many of the museum’s artworks is assisted by increased alcohol levels.

    Upon arrival at MONA, you are given an iPod and headphones. Using clever software and GPS, the devices automatically detect where you are standing in the museum and offer information about nearby artworks. You can hear interviews, music, and even rate whether or not you like each piece of art. All data is uploaded randomly, making the information you are reading different to everyone else around you. At the end of your tour you can opt to receive an email telling you how long you spent at each piece and offering links to more facts about the work.

    Among the 400 pieces on show, a couple really stood out to us. ‘Cloaca Professional’ by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, is a machine that imitates the human digestive system, producing waste at regular intervals. This intriguing mad scientist approach to such a natural bodily process really interested us. Inspired by his belief that everything in modern life is pointless, the most useless object he could dream up was a machine that serves no purpose at all, besides the reduction of food to waste. Despite the unavoidable stench in the room, the intricately constructed pods with digital displays of temperature and pressure entice you to take a closer look. The work seems to make comment on the art world and how it has been so far consumed it has almost ‘come out the other end’.

    In a room resembling an over sized light-box, 30 Madonna fans sing renditions of her Immaculate Collection album, each one on their own TV screen. This exploration of idol-ism and super fandom is sure to make anyone smile. They all sing like no one is watching with dramatic gestures and the glimmer of hope that Madonna might one day see the footage, making it a refreshing and lighthearted installation in an art collection heavy with dark subject matters.

    That's a whole lot of poop.

    Another piece that got our attention was an installation called ‘Fat Car’ by Erwin Wurm. The bulging red body work of the Porsche Carrera seems to make comment on consumer over-indulgence. Wurm takes one of the world’s most desirable objects and totally defaces it, almost beyond recognition. The perfect red paintwork stretched uncomfortably over the bloated body turns a once beautiful object into a beautifully shiny, but ultimately useless pile of car. The detail is impeccable, even the interior is ballooned – the seats bulge at the seems and the wing mirrors are covered in swelled red metal. Well known for the use of humor in his works, Wurm has been quoted saying: “If you approach things with a sense of humor, people immediately assume you’re not to be taken seriously. But I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. You don’t always have to be deadly serious. Sarcasm and humor can help you see things in a lighter vein.”

    http://mona.net.au/

    655 Main Road | Moorilla Estate, Berriedale, Tasmania, Australia

    T: (61-3) 6277-9900

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  8. Taste Testing Tasmania’s Only Sheep Cheesery

    May 20, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    80 sheep

    10 years

    9 organic sheep cheeses (along with a range of yoghurt, frozen yoghurt and cows milk cheeses)

     

    Grandvewe is a family run Sheep’s Cheesery, and it’s the only one here on Tasmania.  Diane Rae, along with children Nicole Gilliver and Ryan Hartsthorn keep the business operating as smoothly as their indulgent, creamy cheeses.

     

    Diane and her partner Alan took a holiday to Tasmania in 1999 and found that they had an immediate connection with the land. The family moved from Brisbane to the 16-odd hectare plot with dreams of creating an organic vineyard but the demand for sheep milk produce quickly became apparent. After researching the market they noticed a niche opportunity to launch a range of sheep milk products.

     

    “There’s only four of us in Australia with dairy sheep and only two that extend to tourism.”

     

    They bought the farm and established a flock of East Friesland sheep, a dutch variety bred for their high milk yield. Within two years of production, Diane won ‘Best Organic Product’ at the 2003 Tasmanian Fine Food Awards. More recently their chosen breed of sheep is Awassi as they are robust and drought-tolerant, ideally suited to the Tasmanian climate. Grandvewe is the only producer of its kind to be certified organic.

     

    We got the chance to taste several of their cheeses, and here’s what we thought:

     

    1. Friesland Fog – Soft cheese with a blue/grey rind. Smooth, creamy with a hint of blue cheese taste.
    2. La Mancha – Classic sheep cheese made in the Manchego style. Rubbed weekly with organic olive oil and aged for 20 months. This cheese won gold at the 2012 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show.
    3. Sapphire Blue – Named champion by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. This led to Grandvewe applying for the President’s Medal, the country’s highest produce accolade.
    4. Pinot Paste - Grandvewe’s equivalent of quince jelly. Perfect accompaniment to the tasty cheeses on offer here.
    5. Mutton Sausage – A cured meat sausage with a smoky rich flavor.

     

    Visiting Grandvewe was a treat in itself–an elegant, cozy cafe overlooking lush rolling hills covered in their sheep, with a stunning body of water shimmering in the background.  We bundled up in some fleece, browsed the huge collection of magazine and newspaper articles published about Grandvewe, and had a great chat with Diane’s daughter, who is also one of the owners of Grandvewe, Nicole Gilliver.

     

    Our favorite treat of the day (other than the sheep’s puns and jokes that lined the walls of the bathroom) was the Sheep Milk Ice Cream–intensely creamy and a perfect, rich chocolate flavour.

     

    High quality products, relentless commitment to their dream, and a great sense of humor to boot.. it’s just one killer combination for a business.  Grandvewe, you rock our woolen socks off.

    For more information on Grandvewe Sheep Cheesery, please visit their website or in person at:
    59 Devyns Road, Birchs Bay, South Hobart

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  9. Eat Meet: Chef Michael Elfwing at Hilton Kuala Lumpur

    May 14, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE MENU 
    Smoking Allowed, Seafood Soup, LERØY Salmon Trout, Chocolate Tart “Michel Chaudon”
    ON THE GLOBE
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    Master Chef Michael Elfwing

    I’m quite disciplined with myself and what I want, if there’s something that I want, I make it happen.  You just have to stay focused.

     


    Chef Elfwing is the head chef at Senses Restaurant at Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Originally from Sweden, he studied the culinary arts in Australia from age 16 after being inspired by his father, who was also an international chef.  He’s worked with the legendary Chiong Liew at Grange in Adelaide, and at the world-famous Fat Duck restaurant with Heston Blumenthal, among others.  He’s published his own cookbook, which features his gorgeous photography.  His Senses restaurant has won several awards including the prestigious 5-Star Diamond Awards as one of the Best Restaurants in the World and Hospitality Asia Award for Best Western Cuisine.

    But he’s so much more than a pile of fancy titles and accolades.  He’s warm, innovative, passionate, creative and inspiring to say the least.  He’s humble about his extraordinary feats and talents, and willing to admit there’s always more to learn.  He has an infectious energy and he continues to work hard to earn the fruits of his labor.  Tasting his culinary creations assured me of that.  He was kind enough to let me interview him, snap some photos, and prepare some of his classic dishes for me.

    Needless to say, I was blown away by Chef Eflwing’s food as well as his character.

     

    ~ What I Ate  ~

     

    Smoking Allowed………..  

    Table smoked Tasmanian ocean trout, Nordic deep sea shrimp with sour cream & chives

    Unbelievable texture, melt-in-your-mouth trout.  The presentation is so unique–watching the smoke seep out as the jar is opened, smelling the soft wood chip smoke as it makes its way towards you, and the unbeatable taste.. top-notch combination.  Truly delights your Senses. 

    Seafood Soup  

    Seared cod, slipper lobster, Scottish diver scallop, saffron potato & roast roma tomatoes

    Another brilliant presentation–first you’re served the cod, lobster, scallop and potato so you really see what’s in the soup.  Then they pour the soup over it all, piping hot, as the aroma fills your nose.  A perfect, hearty soup for winter.

    LERØY Salmon Trout

    Organic salmon trout from the pristine fjords of Norway served with a sea garnish of edible sand, fresh clams & Dutch grey shrimp, smoked potato purée

    Another fantastic presentation.  Bursting with fresh ocean flavor.  ”Edible sand” concoction unlike anything I’ve seen or tasted, paired perfectly with the potato purée.  A sophisticated harmony of delights from the sea.

     

    Chocolate Tart “Michel Chaudon”  

    Exclusive to Senses by Parisian chocolatier Michel Chaudon.

    This handmade chocolate simply transformed into a light & warm  chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream

    Extremely innovative dish inspired by a larger traditional tart.  Smooth, silken molten chocolate and creamy light ice cream.  A classic.

     

     

     

     

    How long have you been living in Malaysia and working at Senses inside Hilton Kuala Lumpur?

    Eight years, it was the 1st of July, 2004 that I started here.  I’m Swedish but I worked 7 years in Australia before coming here.  I worked in Adalaide before with Chiong Liew, and Kuala Lumpur wanted to “bring papa home” because he’s Malaysian, so they asked me and Kelly Brennan to open and run Senses, based on legendary KL chef Chiong Liew‘s themes.  It has changed a lot since opening, because of the clientele: people go to Chiong Liew’s personal restaurant to eat Chiong Liew’s food: he cooks about 20 dishes and it has been that way for 10 years.

    But here, the Malaysians request new meals.  You have to listen to your customers.  That was something I had to learn, I came from the very stubborn, determined Chiong Liew mentality because I learned from him, that “this is my dish, nothing can change.”  The Malaysians are very loyal in that they like coming back to a place, but they don’t want the same thing time and again–they want different dishes from the same chef.  We might think we know how things work based on previous experince, but its always changing.

     

    What are your favorite ways to integrate aspects of local Malaysian food or culture into your creations?

    I think I learned a lot about Malaysian food, and its integration of Malay, Chinese, Indian aspects while working with Chiong Liew in Australia.  We opened Senses with the concept to cook gourmet Malysian food, but the locals were saying, “I don’t need you to cook shark fin or bok choi for me here, I can go to the local Chinese restaruant for that.”  We had all these beautiful lychees and mangosteens, and they’re saying, “I’ll just get that at my corner market, can you please give me some rhubarb? Something special from your culture?”

    Smoking Allowed, my signature dish–the one served in a smoke-filled jar, is certainly Scandinavian, but it uses ocean trout from Australia.  I wouldn’t be allowed to use a Norwegian salmon for this because of the texture and fat content, I had to test and try to find the right fish.  So that’s why I integrate different foods from different places, to get the best ingredients from where they are in the world.  I buy local, but I don’t buy the typical Asian vegetables.  My fish is imported from Japan or Australia, but a lot of this is because of customer demand, because they want something special, something they cannot find on the streets.

    Cheong’s food is very modern Malaysian: if you’re Malaysian, you might understand where his food is coming from, but you might not like it because it’s not prepared in the traditional ways.  The locals are very protective about how a laksa should be, but every single person makes it a different way.

    My food is a bit more straightforward, it might be refined, but the flavors are very recognizable and familiar.

     

     

    What do you eat when you’re not at work?

    I tend to cook at home on my day off.. I lock myself in my home on my days off.  It’s taken me years to be this relaxed.  Some chefs are all over the place, every two years a new place.

     

    What will you do after you’re finished at Senses?

    Right now Senses and the Hilton here is my plan and my life.  We’re going to renovate, we’re actually going to have a new restaurant and new bar.. this is a hotel that doesn’t stand still.  We’re going to move more towards a western, European restaurant.  When I want to leave again, I will move back to Australia.  I have citizenship there as well.

     

     I never planned to stay this long but I like it and I’m happy so.. why move?

     

    We met an Executive Chef in Thailand, and he is in charge of managing the chefs but no longer cooks.  Are you cooking still?

    Yes,  we have 160 chefs and 8 outlets at this hotel, so we have an executive chef here too–but I said to myself.. I don’t want that job, I don’t want 220 headaches.  I am spoiled, lucky even, that I am just one head chef in one restauarant.  I never planned to stay this long but I like it and I’m happy so.. why move?

     

    Was it your dream to become a chef when you were younger?

    Yes, I would say.  I’ve always loved reptiles and fish, so I was interested in marine biology and the like, but cooking was more instantly gratifying and when I was 15, 16 it seemed like an easier choice to study cooking than marine biology.  Since I was young, my  father was an international chef, and I would visit him wherever he was and it was always a kind of holiday to see him cooking on those big cruise ships.  My dad was working as a chef at Carnival cruise ships company when Hurricane Katrina hit.  The company offered to house people for free but they had a huge problem with criminals on board, so he quit and moved to Australia.  I visited him there, just thinking it was a vacation, and I was wowed by all the sunshine.. endless sunshine!  So it made me think, maybe I should study here, so I studied at culinary school there from age 16.  Most of my inspiration came form seeing my dad, working all over the world, traveling.  It all started from there.

     

    I saw you featured on Molecular Gastronomy, can you explain what molecular gastronomy is and how you use it?

    Your basic french training is always in the background in your mind as a chef.  My food, in terms of molecular, is definitely.. well, I spent a month at the Fat Duck with the legendary Heston Blumenthal, and that showed a side of molecular gastronomy that really appealed to me.  Heston’s style is more about time and temperature, and he is very precise with this.  You’re not adding foreign ingredients for a texture that’s not there–the Spanish chefs change a lot of texture: you have a familiar flavor but the texture is strange.  I would love to go and eat it, but it’s not the kind that I enjoy cooking.  Smoking Allowed is vacuum cooking, which is old-fashioned already, but its very precise, and so very fool-proof, so you get a very consistent product every time you do it.  But we haven’t made a trout into a shaving foam texture, so it’s still a fish.  The edible sensibilities comes form my inspiration from Heston.

     

    Who are some of the coolest people you met here?

    Mel Gibson, Louis Hamiltion (he had two-well done tenderloins, french fries and heinz tomato ketchup) because we have the Formula 1 races.  Sebastian Vettel who won Formula 1 for the past two years, he comes every year, I was lucky enough to give him one of my books.

     

    Have you ever had any failures that you felt you could not overcome?

    What can I say.. cooking is very personal, because YOU are the one choosing the ingredients, serving the dish.  Sometimes you care if the guest doesn’t like it because you might believe in it so strongly and like it so much, but after 15 years in the kitchen, I think you learn to be humble.  Not everyone can like what you like.  You have a lot of failures testing recipes, but you test it–if its not good, you don’t serve it.  Testing is a different type of failure–it doesn’t hurt as much.  Being very much hands-on you eliminate a lot of that.  I haven’t had any serious failures I think.  I’m quite disciplined with myself and what I want, if there’s something that I want, I make it happen.  You just have to stay focused.

     

    For more information on Chef Elfwing and Senses Restuarant, please visit:

    Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel

    3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur

    Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    03-2264-2264

     

    Special thanks to Chef Elfwing, the Senses staff, and Sabrina Loh for making this happen.

    
    

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