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  1. 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.

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    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!

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  2. 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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  3. 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.


  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. Real Creative Design

    August 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Custom surf board covers, graphic design
    ON THE GLOBE
    Byron Bay, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Maria Nilsson, Real Creative Design Studio

    What do you get when you mix a world-famous surf scene, beautiful beaches, hippies, hipsters, a lush region for fruit and veg and a whole lot of sunshine? Answer: a booming hub of creatives working and living in the same tiny space. In our eyes, Byron Bay lived up to all the hype we heard about it and then some.

    Surf artist Christie Rigby tipped us off about an industrial estate full of art and design studios just outside the buzzing hum of Byron’s core, and what a treat it was.

    We set off in our campervan in the late morning, the sun breaking through the rain clouds for the first time in days, a double rainbow filling the sky, as if to say.. this day is gonna be fucking awesome.

    This is the first installment of a small series of the people we met that day.

    Maria welcomed us in with a knock-out smile and showed us around their big, bright new studio. Brilliantly curated antiques and op shop goodies collected over the last six years peppered the entire space. Colors splashed all around, old mixed with new; the art and design created in the studio blending seamlessly into their collected treasures.

    We chatted to Maria about the design scene in Australia, her immigration from Sweden, and the gorgeous custom surf board covers that she sews. Read on.

    Everyone gets together and hangs out, we all have a unique style, so we work together. We put on creative nights all the time where we have parties and do art.

    When did you move to Australia?
    I moved from Sweden in 2006.

    Did you study in Sweden?
    Yep, Media. Then I studied design in New Town and moved to Byron Bay in 2009. I spent the holidays in Byron Bay and loved it. As soon as I had the chance I moved here and started Real Creative.

    How did it all start?
    Real Creative started in internet cafes. Diva and I worked as a team, we called ourselves ‘Real’ and grew from there. For a while we were sharing a studio with The Design Kids on one computer. It wasn’t long before we realised we needed one each as things were taking forever to get done. It hurt our brains! We earned some money, bought another computer, moved in to a new unit, and got going!

    How did you find your clients?
    We got our initial clients through friends as we had our previous portfolios of work to show. We visited art shows too and got work from those. We’ve also been asked to do Byron Bay Surf Festival.

    Is there a lot of competition within the design community in Byron Bay?
    No. In Sydney I found it was quite competitive but here not at all! Everyone lives and breathes for each other. Everyone gets together and hangs out, we all have a unique style, so we work together. We put on creative nights all the time where we have parties and do art.

    Do you sell the art that you make?
    We make most money through design. People don’t like to pay too much for art, especially if you’re not a well-known artist. We get clients from the shows and markets that we do. We sell prints and photo blocks. We find that people just want a little memento from Byron, so the smaller pieces do well. It’s something little, like $20, not a big investment piece.

    You have quite a few surf boards here too, do you paint them?
    Yeah, we paint them, send them off to get waxed and there’s a company that sells them.

    For more information visit:

    Real Creative Blog
    https://www.facebook.com/realcreativedesignstudio

    http://real.lagr.se/

    realcreativedesignstudio@gmail.com

    6/12 Tasman way, Byron Bay, New South Wales, 2481, Australia

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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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