I actually heard Nancy talking to Genevieve Jacobs on the local radio before I met her. She was being interviewed as part of the @666Canberra “Walter Burley Griff-phone” series and was being asked all sorts of foodie-related questions by the ABC presenter.
Nancy runs the well-regarded Foodlovers Shop at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. Her shop specialises in specialty gourmet food products that taste as good as they look. Nancy and her team hand make over five hundred gourmet food products. Their self-labelled range includes savoury sauces, mustards, dressings, chutneys and relishes and sweet dessert sauces, jams, jellies and marmalades.
Being based in the Belconnen Fresh Food Market allows them to source fresh ingredients from local suppliers. Nancy and her team purchase, chop, cook and bottle all our products on site. In addition to FoodLovers products, they also stock a huge range of gourmet food products from many of our favourite Australian foodie icons – Maggie Beer, Peter Watson, Charmaine Solomon just to name a few.
So it was fitting that we had our interview in one of the Belconnen Market’s own restaurants: Tee’s Trading House, which serves great authentic Asian food with a smile. I enjoyed a great-tasting Laksa while Nancy had some delicious chicken noodle soup.
Recently Nancy added to her stockline after a personal request for Mustard Apricots from none other than Maggie Beer! Now there’s an endorsement that any foodie can admire!
And if you can’t quite make out what Maggie Beer is using, here’s a photo of Nancy with one of her many proud creations.
So Nancy, who are you? I am who I am. My name is Nancy Harrison – to my two daughters, I am Mum. To my friends I am Fancy Nance, and to others I am the woman that makes food like their grandmothers used to! I have been a teacher of kindergarten children, a youth group leader, an avid Unionist. I have been a public servant (a procurement and contracting specialist no less!). Most recently I was known as the Coffee Lady when I established and ran Coffee’s On Coffee Cart outside the Discount Pharmacy in Macquarie and at Kings Swim School in Macgregor.
I currently own FoodLovers at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and spend most of my days in front of the stove cooking up jams, pickles and chutneys, sauces and dressings in the old-fashioned way and without any additives – just the way Nanna used to make them. There are about 500 different products that we make, which also includes the baking of Anzac biscuits, Melting Moments, fruit loaves, almond bread and meringues.
Of course, I try to source as much as I can locally. Most of our quinces, cumquats, lemons and Seville oranges are grown on local trees and are picked especially for us while they are in season. I would like to expand this a little, but need to be careful about provenance etc. It is getting really difficult to find fruit and vege commercially (eg frozen, dried or tinned) that is grown in Australia. The only way I know how to ascertain if it is grown in Australia is to go and pick it myself, and I don’t really have the time to do that!
I am trying to find a balance so that we bake some gluten free products too. Most of what is in the bottles is gluten free – it is not thickened and I don’t use anything that may have allergens lurking. I spend some of my week playing with recipes so that I can develop special diet foods that are readily available. We are very tuned into allergies because I am allergic (and anaphylactic) to many foods including seafood, pork, eggplant and mango…
Age? I am in my 50th year.
Where do you live? Currently in Page (for 8 years) but am about to move to a new unit in Macquarie.
Have you ever blogged about food? Ha! I have never BLOGGED. I wouldn’t know how to! <Nancy does however do many amazing cooking demonstrations and is full of helpful advice for her customers!>
Other hobbies? My job is my hobby. I just love cooking and being around food. I love making others happy by providing them with good, nutritious, wholesome goodness! I love helping people create imaginative and interesting things to eat from what they have available to them..
I am a volunteer for TEDx Canberra this year, which keeps me out of trouble – I am the Food Experience Manager, which means I organise the food for the day for the 650+ attendees. It’s a challenge, but good fun at the same time!
Apple or Android? Android – only because I didn’t know what a good thing Apple was all those years ago when I should have stuck with them!
Car/bus/bike? I own a car, but am hoping we will bike much more when we move.
Favourite TV show? t stay awake long after I am home usually. However, I have become a bit obsessed with Game of Thrones (a friend loaned me the DVDs), Miss Fisher and I really love anything Australian.
Favourite devices? Devices??? What does that mean? <Yes, she does have a great sense of humour> In the kitchen, I couldn’t do without my jut-jut (stick blender) – been the best investment I have ever made! I also have an amazing food processor which juices citrus in a snap! I love it!
Can we take a peek at your home screen? My home computer screen save is a beautiful photo I took in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland – a huge blue and black butterfly landed just in front of me and I couldn’t help but take a photo of it!
Most-used app? Probably Facebook. Basecamp? Not sure.
Favourite social media? Facebook – it’s the only one I really know how to use to any effect!
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? My emails – usually have links to Facebook and Basecamp.
What do you worry about at night? If I am awake – I worry about the lack of sleep! Lately its been about the house and all the stuff that goes with that – mortgage and insurance etc. Sometimes it’s FoodLovers and how we can get more people to visit – there’s been a marked drop-off since the budget was announced.
Most exciting recent news? Have you heard – I am buying a house! I guess there was also the talk with Genevieve Jacobs on 666 Canberra the other morning. I am going to my school reunion on the long weekend as well. It’s in Bundaberg. Haven’t been ‘home’ for more than 30 years, so it will definitely be interesting.
Ideal career? I am living my ideal career – I have done lots of things in my life, but what I am doing now is just wonderful!
Recent book you recommend? I have a huge personal library (which is going to be culled during the moving process). I bought lots of children’s books over the years that I was training and teaching in Canberra primary schools…most of them are Australian authors who have much to offer adults as well. My favourite author is John Marsden – he wrote the Tomorrow When the War Began trilogy in seven parts! My kinda bloke really!
Recent online video you laughed at? A TEDTalk from Texas – a builder who designs homes from scrap was describing how he uses hens eggs and nuts as decoration for his houses – how using what everyone else has in their foyer in a bathroom or a toilet is much more interesting…very funny talk!
I listened to Sting speak on line at TED in March 2014 – I think it may have been in Vancouver. He was saying how when he forgot his roots – back in the ship-building town he grew up in – he couldn’t write anymore. Once he returned to his roots, he found he could write again and has written some amazing songs since then – Dead Man’s Boots…I will never hear SOS (Message in a Bottle) and not think of his TEDTalk!
Favourite food? Like I said to Genevieve the other day – there is nothing like baked beans on toast for me – it takes me back to my childhood I think.
However, I love a good roast with crispy, creamy potatoes.
And for lunch, any time – Chicken Noodle Soup (or if I make it – Vitamin C Soup) – a Vietnamese inspired soup with thick rice noodles, bok choy (and any other green veges I have in the fridge) and a rich chicken stock that has been steeped with ginger, lemongrass and coriander. My almost 10 year old loves it!
and here’s a slightly better photo of the tasty lunch we enjoyed together at Tee’s Trading House 🙂