Meet a #Canberra Foodie
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! 🙂
Anyone who follows social media in our fair city would be aware of the popularity and success of the HerCanberra website. This website is “written by Canberra women, for Canberra women” and it is written extremely well. Although the website has had a couple of guest posts from token males (like this one) it has become another good example of Canberra’s amazingly smart, hard-working, talented and outspoken women and is highly-recommended reading.
HerCanberra features the voices of local writers, the website posts daily about topics of interest to the Capital’s female population. From ‘what’s on’ to reviews of places to eat; social commentary to health and fitness; beauty and nutrition to books and movies; fashion and motherhood to recipes and home style; if it’s part of ‘her’ life you’ll find it on HerCanberra. If you’ve ever wanted to know who’s behind it, well that would be Amanda Whitley. Amanda jokes that she manages HerCanberra in any ‘spare time’ she might have amongst all her other responsibilities and pursuits yet she manages to attend and investigate an amazing array of Canberra events, openings, celebrations and community festivals, sharing her love for our city with her growing readership both here and interstate. I recently met with Amanda at one of her favourite places in Canberra, Manuka. She shared some secrets about what interests her and what keeps her busy life on track.
Amanda Whitley, Who are you? I founded HerCanberra in January 2011 after the premature birth of my youngest daughter led me to leave the public service and start dabbling in the odd blog or two (including being the first site moderator for Mamamia – but I gave that up after refereeing one two many argument over c-sections and childcare). These days, I manage HerCanberra in any ‘spare time’ that’s not spent wrangling two gorgeous little girls, instructing Zumba, or eating. I’ve also done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign!
Amanda Whitley with some of the HerCan team at the 2013 Christmas party – 100 people attended (it was sold out).
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing HerCanberra since January 2011 and had a personal blog before that as well as contributing to MamaMia. I worked as Mamamia’s first site moderator and met many Canberra women while I was doing that work. The idea for HerCanberra was something I came up knowing there was a real growing market and demand for stories and news that would be of interest to Canberra women.
Apple or Android? We are a dedicated Apple family!
Car/bus/bike? Well, we have two kids so it has to be the car most days to ferry the kids around.
Favourite TV show? MasterChef Australia
Favourite devices? iPhone, MacBook Air (which is my mobile office)
Can we take a peek at your homescreen?
Most-used App? Facebook without a doubt.
Favourite social media? Facebook.
What’s the first thing you check online each morning? Facebook notifications, emails, website, Canberra Times.
What do you worry about at night? All the things I have to do the next day, because there’s only one of me.
Most exciting recent news? I was selected as one of the 100 #Humanbrochure particpants by VisitCanberra and am really looking forward to showcasing our beautiful city to the rest of Australia and the world.
Ideal career? I’m doing it! Websites are the new magazines and I always wanted to work in a good magazine. I published my first magazine when I was ten years old – it was called “Wombat”! 🙂
Recent book you recommend? I love crime novels and really enjoyed A dark and twisted tide by Sharon Bolton.
Recent online video you laughed at? Can’t really think of a video I laughed over…but the ‘DYAC’ blog gets me every time…on the first one, I kinda smile, then by the 10th I’m rolling on the floor. Damn you auto correct!
Favourite food? 86 is my current favourite place to eat in Canberra. I recommend you take your wife their on a date night Elias! Make sure you tell them you’re on a date and ask to be seated at the kitchen bench where you can watch the chefs, cooks and staff work and interact, you will be entertained.
Now for something completely different! This interview is with an amazing Canberra couple whose life together has been full of unpredictability, adventure and a shared love of their family, work and food. Ginger Gorman would be a name familiar to anyone who listens to ABC 666 in Canberra as she is a regular broadcaster, producer and writer. She is also passionate about social media and lectures on social media at the University of Canberra. Her husband Donnie Gomez is also a fascinating man (I’ve just become a fan of his science fiction movie blog). After reading this great story written by Megan Doherty in the Canberra Times I wondered if Ginger and Donnie were destined to meet and fall in love and marry and have kids through some sort of cosmic destiny that brings people who love food together. After this interview I’m starting to become certain of it. Anyway, read the story here first, and then enjoy the rest of the interview (which unlike all the other interviews so far, is in stereo, with Ginger’s and Donnie ‘s matching answers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Ginger and Donnie: Who are you?
Ginger: I’m an ABC radio presenter, reporter and producer, based in Canberra. During my media career I’ve worked for ABC Local Radio, Triple J, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Fairfax Community Newspapers. I also occasionally write freelance articles. I specialise in creative boundary-pushing radio and social justice journalism and have won multiple awards for my work in print and radio journalism. Another passion is social media, especially its integration with traditional media.
Donnie: I’m a husband, father, civil servant and former postdoc with 10 years research experience in microbiology, invasion biology and population genetics. I’m currently undertaking a Masters degree in Science Communication at the Australian National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science.
Don loves a good yarn and is interested in how fiction and narrative can shape public perceptions and attitudes towards science. He is currently writing up his research on the influence of the television show Breaking Bad on public attitudes towards science. How cool is that?!
Age? Ginger: 37. I usually forget my age. Honestly, I do. I inadvertently told The Canberra Times I was 37 when I was 36. It never seems like the most important or relevant information about a person. Donnie: 36.
Where do you live? We live in the inner north. Last year we bought a cute little ex-Govie near the shops, a lovely school and the park. And we have four sets of amazing neighbours next door and across the road. All the kids play together and we (the street) hold Happy Hour for the parents about once a month on a Sunday. You just could not ask for a better street or community.
How long have you been blogging? Ginger: I’ve been writing for more than a decade and it’s one of my great passions but the truth is life is so busy with our two little girls, it’s rare I actually get to write print articles or blog in the way I’d like to. In a few years when our girls are a bit older, I’ll get back to it. I often write whole articles in my head, but never get to write it down. Donnie: I’ve been blogging (sciencebyfiction.net) since 2012, but took a one year hiatus after the birth of our second child in 2013. I really should get back into it.
Other hobbies? Ginger: Outside work I’m a wife and mum, junk collector, op shopper, fabric hoarder, writer, talker, reader, cook, eater, retro frock and art lover. Donnie: Gaming: PC, PS3 and PS4.
Apple or Android? Ginger: Apple. My husband converted me. Donnie: Apple 🙂
Car/bus/bike? Ginger: At the moment we have two children under four. Therefore it’s often easiest to drive. But in an ideal world it would be tram, train, bike or walking. In Amsterdam I biked everywhere and it was a joy. City planners, where are our trams and safe bike lanes? Donnie: Bus – a great way to catch up on some reading and/or sleep.
Favourite devices? Ginger: My tablet. Donnie: iPad and iPhone
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Ginger: Social media and traditional media apps are the ones I look first thing in the morning and regularly during the day. I might also sneak in a look if the kids wake me up at 2 or 3 am and I can’t get back to sleep. Whenever I can I squeeze in podcasts too. My favourites are from public radio in the States. They make some of the best radio in the world: This American Life, Radiolab and 99% Invisible. Donnie: Safari.
Favourite social media? Ginger: Twitter. I’m interested in the incredible ideas-generating force Twitter has become. If you follow smart, informed people from across the spectrum you can essentially collate your own newspaper of breaking news and ideas. At its best, it can be an exciting and dynamic platform. At its worst, the trolls are vicious and persistent. You can follow me @freshchilli Donnie: Facebook user and Twitter consumer (@hairycanary).
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Ginger: Social media and traditional media. Donnie: It’s a tossup between The Age and the SMH. These are also the last things I check online before going to bed.
What do you worry about at night? Ginger: I always worry about social justice issues. I’m concerned about those of us who are not treated fairly and perhaps don’t have the resources, education or advantages that others in society have. That’s what I tend to focus on in my radio work. On a more personal level, I worry about climate change. If the planet is set to warm four degrees in my kids’ lifetime, what will life be like for them in the decades to come? Will there be food and water security? What kind of health issues and civil unrest will arise because the planet is warming? What kind of world am I – are we – leaving our children? Donnie: Getting through the evening without the kids waking us up. Ginger and I are much nicer people when we have enough sleep.
Most exciting recent news? Ginger: In 2006 I was the first ABC person to ever go on a World Press Institute fellowship in the United States. In June WPI holds its 50th anniversary celebrations in Minnesota. Former fellows from all over the world are returning for a four-day conference focusing on covering conflict and reporting in restricted zones. Some of these folk are extraordinary. For example, they may have risked their lives in non-democratic countries to report on power abuse and corruption. I’ve got plenty to learn and discuss with them. I can’t wait. Donnie: We have just moved our children into the same bedroom. We have been putting it off for a few months of fear of more interrupted sleep, but the transition has excelled our expectations. Better yet, we have our spare room/study again!
Ideal career? Ginger: I’d love to present a weekly national radio show based around collaborating with the community using social media. Donnie: I’m really interested in in science policy and engagement and would love to be involved in work understanding how to influence policy and public perceptions about science issues like emerging technologies and engaging young people in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Recent book you recommend? Ginger: I didn’t read it recently but my favourite book of all time is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I also love Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Donnie: Michel Faber’s Under the Skin. A dark, satirical story of an alien that seduces and abducts men to feed her own kind. I can’t wait to see how Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast and Birth) interprets the text on film and captures the novel’s satirical narrative on identity, gender and humanity.
Recent online video you laughed at? Ginger: I’m an issues-based media consumer, so I don’t really spend time watching light hearted videos. For example I’ve been thinking about why photojournalism is an important part of telling a story and I came across this powerful piece, which says it all: http://media.smh.com.au/system/ipad/kate-geraghty-herald-photographer-3036882.html Donnie: www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6tKZ-cg4RI C’mon…it’s funny! Right!?
Favourite food? Ginger: We make Vietnamese pho at home. We cook the stock in a slow cooker for 12 hours. With thinly sliced high-quality steak and fresh garden herbs, plenty of lime, chilli and fish sauce, it’s wonderful. A close second is Thai mango sticky rice made the traditional way. Lately I’ve also been binge-cooking mini vanilla cupcakes with fluffy icing. I found a British recipe that is simply perfect. Donnie: Sushi, sashimi, steak tartare, oysters natural, and a lush panacotta.
Cool interview! Such a wonderful and interesting couple. I’ll finish off with a lovely picture of a salad Donnie created from tomatoes and herbs in his own home garden: a stacked insalata caprese!
Many Canberrans will recognise Carmen from her family’s “Honey Delight” stall at our local Farmers Markets and shows. I first met Carmen a few years ago online as she is a prolific social media user who spreads the good news about bees in and around Canberra with passion! I recently met her in real life when I ambitiously volunteered to host an urban hive in our family backyard. Sadly for various reasons, including dogs, cats, too many small children and my desire to re-arrange and re-design our whole backyard and gardens meant I went back to the bottom of the waiting list for new hives. Bees need a little bit of private space and some relative peace, both of which are in short supply in our household!
Carmen recently agreed to be the subject of another regular Canberra Foodie interview and I hope to join her soon for a breakfast during her never-ending quest to find Canberra’s best Eggs Benedict, and she has found some very impressive samples already!
A photo of Carmen standing proudly in front of her award-winning honey at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
So Carmen, who are you? I am a third generation beekeeper. I grew up in a large commercial beekeeping family in northern NSW – the Walker Family. At times we were the largest beekeeping family in Australia and during our most productive years we employed up to 10 men.
My family has exported bees and honey to a number of countries including, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and the middle east. We practice a natural beekeeping method and while we have met the criteria for organic produce for over a decade it is only recently that the family as a whole has agreed to commence the organic certification process.
We sell our family produce under the label of Honey Delight at Capital Region Farmers Market. It is an excellent, raw, untreated honey and recently won 3 gold medals and champion commercial exhibitor in the National Honey Show at The Royal Easter Show, Sydney.
I moved to Canberra 20 years ago (mainly due to lack of opportunity in the small country town where I grew up). I’ve continued to spend large periods of time in the country and now consider myself a rural-urban hybrid. I keep my own bees and the majority of my equipment belonged to my grandfather.
My family and I started Canberra Urban Honey in 2012 as a response to the many requests we were getting to help people pollinate their backyard fruit and vegetables. The project began as a community project that my family and I managed on a volunteer basis. We financed the project using donations from our extended family and also raised a small amount of money using crowd funding. Our project used Pozible to raise $2,000 and was the first Australian agricultural project to use crowd funding.
The immense community support for our project and the demand for bees as pollinators in the city meant the project had to evolve in order to remain viable into the future. In 2014 we changed Canberra Urban Honey to a not-for-profit venture and it now employs my son Mitchell as a trainee beekeeper. Our Canberra bees struggled in the drought but our tender loving care meant our bees produced excess honey during the 2013 spring and summer. We finally had our first significant honey harvest at the end the summer of 2014.
Canberra Urban Honey has subsequently been recognised for significant urban agricultural excellence and won Champion at Canberra Show. Canberra Urban Honey is the first urban honey to be awarded a medal at the National Honey Show at the Royal Easter Show. We are incredibly proud of the Canberra community for making this all possible and we hope they feel part of the significant recognition Canberra Urban Honey has achieved over the past two years.
Age? Ha ! – not disclosed!
Where do you live? Gungahlin
How long have you been blogging? 3 years
Other hobbies? Gardening
Apple or Android? Apple
Favourite TV show? I have three – Walking Dead, Vikings and Downton Abbey
(I have been heavily influenced by my teenage children)
Favourite devices? My phone camera and Gopro
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Twitter
Favourite social media? Twitter
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Twitter
What do you worry about at night? Mostly nothing but otherwise – bees and the weather
Most exciting recent news? Medals at The National Honey Show for Honey Delight and Canberra Urban Honey
<And here is the photo to prove it!>
Ideal career? Beekeeper
Recent book you recommend? MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood – look for me in the acknowledgements.
Recent online video you laughed at? didn’t get one so I’ve taken a bit of licence here and added an interesting bee clip… is that ok Carmen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTLgSqu4r3E
Favourite food? Honeycomb with brie and crackers – I have it every day !
To learn more about Carmen’s amazing award-winning work with bees go to her website: Honey Delight
Carmen and Mitch have also done plenty of interesting media about their adventures with bees, like this recent story on ABC Rural: Australia’s youngest urban commercial beekeeper