Meet a #Canberra Foodie
It’s been a while since I added to the list of awesome Canberra Foodies who have graced this website over the past 12 months. It was a great adventure meeting them all last year so I’m determined to start again and hope to share at least one interview a month.
Today’s entertaining interview is with a rare man who as well as being an amazing husband ((I’m told) and musician, also publicly and proudly embraces a very long-standing passion for food and wine. Sorry ladies he’s already taken! I first met Paul through his lovely better half but unlike her his professional passions lie away from public communications. Paul Drake is the part-owner and Manager of the hidden Gem Plumb on Tennant (which I checked out for lunch last year in this earlier post). I’m not the only one who thinks this place is a hidden gem – check out Tara’s review here.
So Paul, who are you? I’m a long time Canberra boy who arrived here as a ten pound pom in 1967. My passion has always been food really, and good wine, but I’m a trained carpenter/ builder and can do most things hospitality related. I never really wanted to be anywhere but Canberra but I guess the clincher was when I met my wife Angie and we decided to make our lives here together. We now have two teenage boys and a spotty dog and my first foray into business was finding my business partner Rob and buying our first cafe Plumb on Tennant in Fyshwick back in 2011. Owning a cafe has been an interesting experience. I can’t say that we’ve done everything perfect but we put love and passion into what we do. It’s hard work and I can say that we’ve only just begun in cafe world, with many more ventures ahead of us I’m sure.
Age? 48, but don’t feel a day over 47!
Where do you live? Fadden
How long have you been blogging? I don’t. Well perhaps if I did blog, more people would know about our cafe. <That’s OK Paul, we’ll try and let them know!>
Other hobbies? I love ironing (my wife is editing this for me) I play bass in a band Kartel – probably my other serious passion, we have fun and play a few gigs every month or so.
Here is evidence of Paul’s musical talent!
Apple or Android? Apple
Car/bus/bike? Love to ride my bicycle but I’m petrified of magpies. It’s grown more irrational every year.
<You’re not alone on that front!>
Favourite TV show? There are many – Peaky Blinders is prob my fav right now.
Favourite devices? I’m old fashioned, still on an iPad but it’s the first ever edition so it’s kind of retro now (are they still trendy?)
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? the afl game score app, and Iview
Favourite social media? Facebook <Paul runs a small business so he is extremely busy, without much time for social media, but you can find Plumb on Tennant on Facebook here>
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Facebook
What do you worry about at night? There is a lot at the moment – have been working on getting mum secured in a new aged care facility so she can be properly looked after and will Hawks win the grand final.
Most exciting recent news? We went on our first cruise at Christmas!
Ideal career? Something involving early retirement and travelling a lot
Here is a picture of Paul as he is about to dine at la jules vern restaurant in Paris
Recent book you recommend? The adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
Recent online video you laughed at? ALS ice bucket challenge by Les Claypool http://youtu.be/Tjd_hLtaQxA
Favourite food 🙂 Bacon bits (from Pizza Hut of old are the best), grated cheese and thousand island dressing.
Do yourself a favour and try out Plumb on Tennant for breakfast or lunch (or brunch) next time you’re in Fyshwick – you won’t be disappointed!
In a recent post I opined about “what makes a foodie?” and concluded that it is usually someone who has a passion for good food and enjoying life. Foodies can be anyone from students, to food professionals to politicians! One person I have known for a long time through work and who I know to be very passionate about food and wine and entertainment in Canberra is Andrew Barr, who also happens to be the ACT Deputy Chief Minister. As a busy politician Andrew often doesn’t have the time to pursue all his passions and is often served food he hasn’t ordered, but he only ever seems to have good things to say about the food and entertainment scene in and around Canberra.
Here’s a photo of him recently enjoying a guest appearance next to a world-famous Italian Chef at Canberra’s Capital Region Farmer’s Market.
So Andrew, unlike previous foodies you probably don’t need to tell me much about yourself. Because you’re the Deputy Chief Minister I think you may be the first Canberra Foodie I have interviewed who has their own Wikipedia page and Personal Website with a very detailed bio!
Where do you live? Dickson
How long have you been blogging? 7 years of social media addiction
Other hobbies? travel, movies, sport, wine, music
Apple or Android? Apple
Favourite TV shows? Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Alpha House, Looking and Betas
Favourite devices? iPad and iPhone
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Music
Favourite social media? Facebook
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Email and social
Recent book you recommend? Barracuda – Christos Tsioklas
Favourite film of 2014 (so far)? The Grand Budapest Hotel
Favourite food? 🙂 avocado
Here are some culinary highlights from our Deputy Chief Minister’s twitter feed:
— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) July 26, 2014
— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) February 7, 2014
And here is his recent announcement regarding the new “Westside” pop-up project in West basin, which will feature live entertainment, streetfood and pop-up bars. It’s scheduled to kick off at the same time as Floriade in just over a month!
— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) July 23, 2014
I was delighted to hear last week that Helena and Vikki, who competed in the 2014 series of the 7 Networks, My Kitchen Rules, will be honorary Canberrans for a day later this month when they host a dinner/masterclass at the Hellenic club in Woden.
The cooking sensations will talk about their Greek heritage, their inspirations and their reality TV journey. The popular TV personalities will demonstrate how to prepare and cook some of their favourite meals just for you. You may also hear about their brand new cookbook project and share a few laughs while you enjoy your three course feast.
Thanks to the geniuses marketing this special event I’m honoured to have been offered the chance to blog about it and interview these two lovely women. Like all Canberrans I was very disappointed to watch our two local representatives Andrew Hinge & Emelia Vimalasiri bundled out in the first elimination. I’ve since had the opportunity to meet Emelia through the HumanBrochure program and she is a lovely person and great cook. But the two young Greek-Australians from Melbourne stole the show as far as I was concerned. I loved their honest Mediterranean banter as well as their cuisine. There’s a lot of similarities between Greek and Lebanese cuisine, so maybe that explains part of it. I also have a habit of always barracking for the new-Australians on reality television, probably still scarred from growing up in Australian suburbia in the 70s & 80s 🙂
I’m looking forward to asking Helena and Vicki some tough questions about their cooking, the frenemies on the TV reality show, as well as their views on Canberra and it’s growing sophistication as a cultural and foodie destination. In the meantime, I have to brush up on some facts and figures about My Kitchen Rules.
When: Saturday 30 August 2014
Where: Hellenic Club, Matilda Street, Woden ACT
Cost: This is a ticketed event for the public. Tickets are $100 and include a 3 course meal and wine match, and a masterclass by Helena and Vikki.
Full menu a info: http://www.hellenicclub.com.au/events/enjoy-dinner-helena-vikki/
Enemies or Frenemies? 🙂 so where My Kitchen Rules ‘rivals’ Chloe and Kelly and Helena and Vikki frenemies or clever TV mates? You might have to come along to the dinner to find out.
Some background on Helena and Vicki:
Helena and Vikki, the “sassy twins” as they call themselves, ooze confidence. Multi-talented; Helena with a background in radio was a host with Adelaide’s FRESH FM, and Vikki employed her sharp eye for aesthetics to study graphic design. These identical twins not only look alike, but think alike – one, an extension of the other – and nothing quite represents that like their love of food. They thrive on elevating fresh, clean flavours into next level cuisine. Their passion for cooking – in particular authentic Greek food – has been an inspiring journey that has been passed down from their Mother and Grandmother.
Family means the world Helena and Vikki, having lost their father when they were just 12, the ambitious twins matured quickly and possess and strong pull to connect with relatives in Greece as often as possible and forever strive to make their mother proud. The twins made more than just their mother proud with their recent stint on Channel Seven’s ‘My Kitchen Rules’, the audience darlings not only brought incredible food to Australian screens, but a sense of humour, fun and enviable style.
Greek culture and the sharing of food through generations play an important role in their cooking style today. “I love food, as it has been a huge part of my life since I can remember. Growing up in Adelaide; South Australia as a Greek girl I have learnt that food is your home” says Vikki. Helena shares the same sentiment “My Koula took me under her wing and taught me the essentials of Greek food, which I will carry on through generations. The best memories I have are of food bringing the family together as one”. Currently working on their debut cook book with Hachette Australia Books, the journey is far from over for Helena and Vikki; in fact this is simply the beginning of their careers in food.
Here’s a post from facebook about the event as well Elias Hallaj Facebook
I recently met Michele Walton on the local Canberra Foodie circuit. She’s a food professional and unlike me has a great expertise in healthy eating habits. Yet she still manages to sample and enjoy a huge range of food both in Canberra and during her (yes I’m a bit jealous) amazing overseas adventures. A short browse through her food blog Fine Eating makes me wonder how she finds the time and how she maintains such a healthy figure. Well, she explained to me over a lunch we shared at Flavours of India in Woden – “Strategic ordering”, which is basically just ordering what you need and sharing most of your food. It made a lot of sense. I’m now closely studying their on-line menu for my next visit.
So Michele, who are you? A Canberra loving foodie dietitian, with a keen appreciation of Canberra’s fine food opportunities, coming back home, after spending half my life working in a small rural town in southwest NSW. ‘Deni’ is a great community for raising kids, famously known for it’s ute muster and but not so much it’s many dining opportunities.
But enjoying life in Canberra, I’ve quickly worked out that it’s hard to eat out often without gaining weight, if I continue to approach the menu thinking restaurant opportunities for ‘fine’ dining are few and far between. And having spent my working life helping people enjoy the food they love but stay healthy, it just seems natural to start looking for ideas that work, writing about them and sharing them.
Age? 50 (which is kind of like being being in your twenties again, but with more money, more sense and more taste).
Where do you live? In Campbell, where I grew up. I love inner Canberra. It feels so like home to me. And it’s so great to see all the new eateries popping up so close to home.
How long have you been blogging? My friend Kaye (transformingkidsministry.com) got me into blogging down the coast last new year and I love it. I started with michelesindia.wordpress.com and branched into lovetravelwithfriends.wordpress.com, but it’s fineeating.wordpress.com that has my heart at the moment. It really got going in April this year. So I’m a real newbie on a steep learning curve.
Other hobbies? Foodie travel in Asia. Especially India. I’m about to go back. It’s my absolute favourite. But I enjoy it even more when I’m taking friends with me. Ten trusting friends came with us last year to Rajasthan, a special 50th birthday trip that was such great fun. And this year there’s eight of us heading to Cambodia and Laos.
Apple or Android? Apple everything
Car/bus/bike? Car, an orange Cruise hatch. (It was all that was in stock, but I’m a bit hooked on the colour now).
Favourite TV show? ‘At the Movies’ at the moment (I did love ‘Rick Stein’s India’ when it was on though… Here’s a sample!
Favourite devices? i anything. They are amazing! The Apple Store is so helpful – I’m always in there to get new tips.
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Probably the email app. It’s my filing system as well.
Favourite social media? Facebook is great for sharing life with friends especially photos but I’ve just discovered Twitter and it’s amazing. I’m hooked!
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Online it would be my emails.
What do you worry about at night? Whatever is my current project, will wake me up about 3am (very annoying). I love planning anything with food and friends – trips, parties, dinners, lunches… but there’s never enough time in the day so it seems to take over the night as well.
Most exciting recent news? Just recently another four lovely friends told me they’re coming for a foodie trip to Asia later this year, boldy trusting my recommendations.
Ideal career? I liked the idea of being Quentin Bryce when she was Governor General. Looked like lots of stylish, well resourced travel and hospitality opportunities there. But as that’s no longer an option, a TV host for an Asian Foodie travel show looks great. I’d even settle for Margaret Pomeranz’s job on ‘At the Movies’.
Recent book you recommend? That would have to be The Penguin Food Guide to India. It’s brilliant and my ‘go to’ book at the moment for planning our foodie itinerary for India.
Recent online video you laughed at? Bollywood movie clips! You can’t help but feel good when you watch them. One of the best recently for a smile was: http://youtu.be/qL9JmbRZiGI
Favourite food? Even though I love Asian food travel, visually beautifully presented interesting flavours in modern Australian food is my absolute favourite. It is a treat for all the senses. In Canberra I think Courgette does that best. And I can never say no to great ice-cream.
Category (e.g. food/eating (especially social eating/dining out) + health/weight management, dining reviews, travel eating, some cooking and recipes):
Other blogs (a bit related): michelesindia.wordpress.com, lovetravelwithfriends.wordpress.com
Natalie is an accomplished food blogger who recently moved to Canberra from Perth. Although I’ve been following her on Twitter, Facebook and reading her blog for months, I recently got to know her a little bit better through the Canberra foodie scene, in which she is an active contributor. With a Middle Eastern background, Natalie grew up immersed in the cultural love of food and socialising. Having travelled around the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, she says she is grateful to have enjoyed a range of traditional cuisines in their cultural settings.
Who are you Natalie? I grew up on the south coast of NSW and moved to Perth in my teens. While in Perth, I developed an interest in food and wine, mainly those which were local to the area. I started a blog, Perth Food Journal, to document my foodie experiences but recently converted that content to Capital Food Journal, seeing as though I relocated to Canberra in August 2013. I’m now endeavouring to learn all about Canberra produce and the producers.
Where do you live? Downer
How long have you been blogging? 3 years
Other hobbies? Reading and cooking
Apple or Android? Apple
Favourite TV show? At the moment it’s Suburgatory but just found out it’s been axed
Favourite devices? I am in love with my ipad mini. It’s the perfect little device.
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? My gmail app.
Favourite social media? I’m newly addicted to Instagram. I’ve only just started and love how easy it is to create content.
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? My emails.
What do you worry about at night? Nothing. I’m able to easily ‘switch off’.
Most exciting recent news? Hmm… I have a few exciting things currently underway …including being a delegate to the 2014 Eat Drink Blog Conference!
Ideal career? Book editor or publisher.
Recent book you recommend? Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Recent online video you laughed at? It’s not a video but these pics had me giggling like crazy – http://aplus.com/a/dog-texting-messages
Favourite food? Ice cream. Nothing compares…
Natalie’s blog is Capital Food Journey
I’ve been invited by Dr Gary Lum from yummylummy.com to join in a writer’s blog hop, along with another Canberra food blogger Michele Walton from Fineeating. The blog hop is a chance to gain a little insight into the motivations of bloggers and an opportunity for the blogger to reflect when answering the questions.
What I am working on?
Probably too much. Between work and family commitments I don’t get a lot of blogging time and I do wish I had more time for blogging! As well as the food blog CBRfoodie which I started earlier this year, I am in the early stages of putting together a blog about political campaigning, which is closer to what I actually do for a living. Down the track I hope to be able to do a bit of both without upsetting my partner or children!
How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
Probably not by much, although every blogger I have met recently has a different approach. I think good writing is essential in any form of communication, but food blogging also relies on a sense of aesthetics as well. The good bloggers (or those that take it a bit more seriously or have been doing it for longer) seem to have a more elaborate approach. Their equipment is usually a bit more serious (DSLR, WordPress, Instagram and tricky apps for quickly manipulating and posting images). I like to take a positive approach to the writing as well. I usually don’t post negative comments and devised a rating system whereby even the lowest rating was still basically a recommendation to try the restaurant, but I use “Canberra Beanies” instead of Chef’s hats or Michelin stars.
Why do I write?
I write primarily for the creative outlet it provides. I also enjoy searching for and eating affordable food. Last year I decided to resuscitate an abandoned research/writing project on political campaigning via a blog, however it quickly became apparent that blogging is not as straight-forward as it might initially seem. I realised I would need to teach myself some basic WordPress skills and that it would take some time before I felt my technical inability would not hamper the writing and blogging process. Having worked in the city for a few years I was aware that there was a lack of information about affordable food and thought a “cheap eats” style list for Canberra would be an achievable blogging project to develop the skills for a more elaborate blog. That said, the food blog has been more fun than I expected and has developed into a hobby all of its own. If you’d like to read a more intelligent and considered explanation about the motivations and challenges of food blogging, here is an awesome article from Zoe at Progressive Dinner Party. It has some very interesting and helpful links for new bloggers.
How does my writing process work?
Realising I needed a critical mass of content before I started the WordPress blog, I made an effort to start Tweeting and posting on Facebook to build a supply of content a couple of months earlier in November 2013. My initial approach to the micro-blogging was very simple: I’d get hungry. I’d look inside my wallet, to find a few notes and coins. I’d buy food and usually take a couple of iPhone shots with the camera. I eat and pay for my meal. If I have a few minutes to spare I often tweet something that day and if I remember post it on Facebook that night or next day. Once or twice a week I blog about the lunch and try and promote the blog again through twitter. As I progressed however I remained more comfortable with Twitter, which is where I still share most of my tips and conversations. I’ve developed a comprehensive twitter-based list of Canberra foodies. I’ve also developed a couple of aspects to the blog which I hadn’t anticipated: a comprehensive list of Canberra food blogs and a series of interviews with other foodies. The list of blogs has been a great source of ideas and conversations, particularly with visitors to Canberra who want to know about food experiences from local foodies. I think the interviews have been popular because they represent a very human aspect of the blogging and foodie experience and have been a great way to meet more experienced food bloggers and learn from them.
Now I get to pass on the blog hop baton to two other bloggers who I will briefly introduce:
Tara Cheyne is one of the proudest advocates for Canberra I have met in recent years. Her well-regarded blog ”In the Taratory” started as a creative record of her adventures discovering Canberra’s hidden tourist gems but has evolved over a few short years into a reliable source of information for locals and tourists alike. Tara is also a community activist and is Secretary of the Belconnen Community Council and also on the Board of the Belconnen Arts Centre. If you want to know ANYTHING about Belconnen she’s one of the best sources you can find! Make sure you follow her on Twitter! I love this photo of Tara stomping on grapes at one of Canberra’s many regional wineries.
James Tew moved to Canberra late last year through his work in the Navy. In his spare time (or what little he has) he blogs at “ three daughters” and also runs @TweetCanberra which he has turned into a fantastic news source and blog about events and people across our city. James also ran the highly successful SMR2014 (Social Media Revolution) Seminar a few months ago and has single-handedly raised the bar for social media networking in Canberra, bringing together professionals, amateurs and aspiring newcomers into the exciting and evolving world of social media in the most well-connected city in Australia. The photo below was taken by me when James and I decided to treat our daughters to a day of toffee apples and cider (non-alcoholic of course!) at an apple-festival near Canberra!
Thanks to Gary for inviting me to be part of the blog hop and thanks to Tara and James for agreeing to participate and accept the batons!
Someone asked me if I could collate all the amazing #Canberra Foodie interviews I have done into a single list so that they can easily share them. Here’s the list so far. Enjoy! I’ll come back sometime soon and add some profile pictures and short bios.
Did you know there’s a world-famous foodie in Canberra with an amazingly popular blog and about 13,000 followers on twitter? Don’t feel embarrassed because until I started this blog a few months ago neither did I! What really shocked me though was that I knew her. Anna Johnston is the friendly face that many people in Canberra who attend big events at the Australian National Press Club know and love as their awesome Events Manager. I’ve recently had the good fortune to get to know Anna even better after I started subscribing to her blog AND after having the pleasure of her company at a few Canberra Human Brochure events over recent weeks.
For those of you who may not know Anna (where have you been?) here are a few of her social media details. I strongly advise that you follow them all. As well as being a very entertaining writer she has a real eye for great photos and tells a great yarn!
Hey Anna, who are you? Events Architect – Yogi – Beer Connoisseur – Coffee Tester – Chef – Boozy Foodie – Blogger
My chefing career started at the National Convention Centre where I trained as an apprentice & fell in love with function work. The thrill of running multiple events at the same time & working in big teams to bring everything in on time is, without a doubt a total buzz!
Working with a huge team of burley Chefs who managed to describe most mouth-watering, taste tantalising and exquisite dishes prefixed by a four-letter word or two was a little challenging, but loads of fun & an experience I’ll treasure forever, I think my time in the kitchens kicked the Princess right out of me & taught me all about food.
After a decade in the kitchen & a bit more study, I packed away my cheffies & followed the sweet lure of Hotel & Event Management. Cooking professionally was a great experience & it certainly opened the door to lots of fun working holidays abroad but I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to dress like a girl again, my love affair with hospitality & function work cranked up to the next level.
Now, as the Events Manager at the National Press Club of Australia, if I’m not spending time with clients designing their dream wedding, live broadcast or gala event, you’ll find me hanging out ‘behind the scenes’ creating stories for my website – http://www.shenannagans.com
Where do you live? I am a Kambah-ran… #SouthSidePride
How long have you been blogging? This time around I’ve been blogging for 4 months, but on my old site The Hospitality Guru, a site that was very much food centric, about 3 years. With shenANNAgans I decided to move away from the strong focus on food and share more of my passions in the events arena. It is my brag book, my journal, my (occasional) ranting space and my creative corner of the interwebs.
Other hobbies? Bikram Yoga
Apple or Android? Apple
Car/bus/bike? Car – I own a mini, super fun and zippy.
Favourite TV show? Mood pending – How I met your Mother, Sons of Anarchy, Chicago Fire, Pretty Little Liars, Smash, Suits, Gilmore Girls, Sex in the City…. The list goes on. Currently I’m watching Vampire Diaries.
Favourite devices? IPhone & MacBook Air
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Favourite social media? Facebook & Instagram
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? I have this weird ritual, in this order I check my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email & then watch my fav YouTubers to kick off my day.
What do you worry about at night? I often think about what I’m going to wear or eat, or who I might meet tomorrow, or great blog post ideas. For the most part I’m not really big on worrying, I figure the problem will still be there tomorrow, so might as well get a good nights rest and deal with any issues with fresh eyes.
Most exciting recent news? So much awesome-ness happening in my world at the moment! Work wise, we won Best Event/Conference Venue at the ClubsACT Awards, and we are up for Best Wedding Venue at the Restaurant & Catering Awards on Monday.
I am one of the lucky locals to participate in the Human Brochure, I’ve been named as a ‘Champion’ for the St Vincent de Paul Community Sleep Out, and I’ve booked an amazing month long holiday abroad over the Christmas / New Year period. Life’s Good!
Ideal career? Right now, I am working in it, I am involved in some pretty spectacular events, it is seriously the coolest job. Just last week I met both John Howard and Bob Hawke, I’ve assisted in planning massive gigs like the Bill Gates Press Club Address, had a cup of tea with Ita Buttrose, I get to eat some of the most amazing foods, try wines from all over the globe and work with the best team. Not only am I spoilt with all that, I get to meet great people like you. <She is sooo nice! 🙂 >
Recent book you recommend? Haven’t read a book in yonks, but one that has stuck in my mind, Born to Run. It’s about a small group of the world’s top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) who make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn about the secrets of the mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, and then take them over a course 50 miles long.
Recent online video you laughed at? Dear Kitten – Adorable and funny too.
Favourite Food? Whhhaaaatttt??? How the heck do I answer that question…. I love food!
A stand out meal this week was the La Ionica chicken breast with cauliflower puree, seared Hervey Bay scallops, sugar cured speck and fermented black garlic. Followed by a Saffron Brulee, citrus segments, Aperol (A blood orange Aperitif) sorbet. Spectacular! The Chefs at the Press Club are some of the most talented and clever cooks I have ever met, every meal served is a culinary masterpiece, I am utterly spoilt, they often make an extra plate for me so I know exactly what I am selling. Brilliant right?!
She’s cool and she’s one of many wonderful Canberra foodies. Follow her now 🙂
Also, Anna forgot to mention an important upcoming event at the national Press Club, BUT I WON’T … attention foodies!
National Press Club Annual Wine and Food Spectacular!
Meet the makers, sample the wares and order direct!
Friday 11 July 2014 5.30pm – 9.00pm
Our famous Wine and Food Spectacular returns on FRIDAY JULY 11, 2014! 20 plus stalls of fabulous beverages and fine foods for you to sample, and you can order direct! Meet the merchants, sample their wares and order some for home.
Just $15.00 for members and $25.00 for your guests.
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 🙂
I recently tracked down Natasha Rudra after hearing she had become the new editor for the weekly Canberra Times Food and Wine Magazine – a gig many Canberra foodies would give their right arm for!
As well as looking after the weekly food and wine supplement, Natasha is the Life and Entertainment editor at the Canberra Times. She’s a regular tweeter on all sorts of news (follow her @NatashaRudraCT) and has a great sense of humour for an overworked journalist. If you’d like to share any food or lifestyle tips drop her a line firstname.lastname@example.org .
So Natasha Rudra, who are you? I grew up in Malaysia, I came to Australia for uni and stayed to pursue dreams of working as a journalist. And that dream came true with bells on. I love my job and sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to write about food, entertainment and lifestyle for the Canberra Times.
Age? I am way too immature for my age.
Where do you live? In an apparent vortex in the Woden Valley, where my friends keep getting lost looking for my house.
How long have you been writing about food? I’ve been writing about food ever since I could write. When I was a child, I would allegedly compose stories in a tiny notebook and read them aloud to my teddy bears. Does that count?
Other hobbies? Sport! I love going to the Brumbies, watching premiership football (when I can stay awake to 3am – bloody Australian timezones), listening to trashy college a cappella and sometimes knitting badly. I also love eating. My partner’s a fabulous cook and there’s nothing better than watching him conjure a magical meal (and then hoeing in ungracefully).
Apple or Android? Apple
Car/bus/bike? Canberra forces us all into the car. I hate it.
Favourite TV show? Game of Thrones or Veep. I think they’re pretty much the same show, except Veep has less twincest.
Favourite devices? Sometimes I think that instead of having a baby, I had an iPad.
Most-used app? Twitteriffic and Facebook.
Favourite social media? It’s going to be Facebook like everyone else. But I am also addicted to Longform.org, which isn’t social media but just a website – it’s a collection of the best feature journalism around. Stories, wonderful stories, pour from it.
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? I check canberratimes.com.au for a recap of the news, the weather, to see what’s going on and whether there’s a traffic snafu near me. We have an amazing team at the Canberra Times who really dig out the best stories from our city, from things that are lighthearted and fun to things that might not be click bait but are important stories to tell.
What do you worry about at night? What that suspicious noise was from downstairs? I also quite like thinking about what I’m going to eat tomorrow.
Most exciting recent news? We managed to score tickets to the Queen and Adam Lambert concert. The 80s love child in me is SO EXCITED.
Ideal career? I only ever wanted to be a journalist so stick a fork in me, I’m done. Unless there’s an opening for “extremely lazy luxury travel writer with hardly any deadlines” going somewhere – in which case hit me up on LinkedIn, asap.
Recent book you recommend? Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.
Recent online video you laughed at? This poor cat. It’s running like the wind, wild and free, down a cobblestone street in France. You won’t believe what happens next. (Well, you will. But it’s unfortunately extremely funny.)
Favourite food? 🙂 This is a cruel question! A fluffy, freshly cooked roti canai and a Malaysian chicken curry. Or a thin slice of bittersweet Valrhona chocolate cake. Or a creamy spinach Milanese risotto. Or Heston Blumenthal’s perfect BFG cake. Or a forkful of Momofuku-style ramen noodles with bright ginger and spring onions. Or a 65-degree egg that’s gorgeously gooey. Just stop me, Elias. Just stop me now.
OK Natasha, we’ll stop now. I’m really disappointed that you didn’t mention Lime-flavoured milk, although technically it’s not a solid food, so I will let it pass! 🙂