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.