Thirty four years ago I spent nine months living in Tokyo. I consider that this has had the greatest and most lasting influence on my life, how I cook and how I treat food. I studied macrobiotic cooking in Tokyo and revelled in all aspects of their exquisite culture. Tomorrow I shall return to Japan, just in time to celebrate with millions, the first day of spring and the start of the cherry blossom season. Whilst I will be essentially on ‘holiday’ no chef is ever truly at rest; with every bite I eat, every ingredient I glimpse and each waft of a scent that wanders my way I will be looking for, what is ancient and what breaks new ground; to inspire who knows what creations to come? I have a very special interest in Japan’s many ways with fermentation and I will returning with whatever I can, to put to good use in the book I am writing on this topic.
Fair warning my Instagram followers, bountiful blossoms and drunken daikon in barrels a plenty, will be coming your way.
When I return I will be head down and into the book, except for a quick trip to teach in Perth in early May. Inspired, as I expect to be, I have included a workshop for making ferments that fit everyday life and of course, a couple of Japanese cooking classes, I am also running a two day workshop for how to cook for the intolerant at your table, this is sadly become the norm at so many tables. I have just added the details of these classes to the online booking page here. These are classes hosted by my compatriot and dear friend, Jude Blereau of Wholefood Cooking and all bookings can be made through her.
I will keep a diary whilst I travel and make note of anything I think you might just love, I hope to see you here or there anon.
I’m rushing but before I go, here is a very quick pickle recipe, that if you don’t already know, you might just love? It is celeriac season in Sydney, they are coming in as large as your head. You can cook them in many ways and they are divine but you might try this, peel them carefully (then make a cut, to create a flat area to sit it on its side, so it can’t roll) slice in thin roundish disks, sprinkle with sea salt, a little lemon zest and some pepper, rub those in and leave to sit an hour or a few, use these now flexible, crispy disks, as a wrap or as a platform or vehicle to transport a delicious topping or two.
LOVE and JOY, both beautifully expressed here.
This is my beautiful goddaughter Tess Angophora Cullity with her new husband Lucas Maddock demonstrating love and joy. Tess’s aunt Dolly baked the most sublime fruit cake and I did it justice by making real vanilla marzipan and golden butter icing. My daughter India made the marzipan couple and we added the blooms together. This was a cake that got eaten and despite the glorious alternative offerings, many returned for more
Tess and Lucas brought their large families and friends together in the Grampian mountains, for a week of celebrations. Words escape me in describing the beauty and depth of honouring of this event. Tess’s relations include two of Sydney’s finest caterers and many fabulous foodies. Together we spent the week eating and drinking marvellously and catering a feast for 150 guests. This was a feast which will be recalled and discussed for decades to come. Joy was alive and well, this event powerfully demonstrated the value of ‘pulling out all the stops’ and going beyond the ordinary.
Apart from icing the cake I was given the supreme honour of marrying Tess and Lucas in sight of their most beloved community; I am not a celebrant, the legals were performed prior. The service was held on a bush property, between large pear trees which rained confetti petals upon us, as we spoke. It was a profound experience I will treasure a lifetime. I am catering another wedding in February in Avalon; I am currently enjoying dreaming up an equally exciting menu for 70. I am so grateful to do the work I do. Thanks to all who value that work and support me in my life’s purpose, to feed people love.
I am available to cater from early January in Sydney and in Northern NSW; which, as soon as I find one, I shall be calling ‘home’. I will continue to teach and cater in Sydney and other places around Australia. I will be back in the UK to spend time with my talented sister Jo, for work and a European Spring.
Christmas in Australia means cherry season and cherries mean pie and munching fresh, in champagne with a little mango, for drying, juice that stains, making my sourdough Christmas cake and lots and lots of sunshine. I save my cherry eating until just before the celebrations, this increases my delight in them and gets me in the mood. These beauties were purchased last week, presented in dear newspaper baskets at the Mullumbimby farmers market, I love this market, soon to be my local!
I have become a partner of this fantastic resource for living a more sustainable life at home, www.liveability.com has been founded by the LJ Hooker Sustainability team, headed by the visionary Cecille Weldon. Liveability is focused on providing the highest level of information on sustainability. Go to the red Do it yourself tab and recipes to see some more of these cherries and the Christmas cherry cacao truffles I served them with. It’s a fun site with masses of small, doable, practical solutions you can implement now. My ideas for stocking or freshening up your pantry for the season are on the site too and more to come soon.
Keep an eye out for these folk, you might find them anywhere in Australia, New Zealand or Canada, perhaps establishing a cutting edge wholefood cafe or restaurant, food writing or barracking politicians about food policy and regulations, biodynamic or organic farming, consulting on nutrition and anywhere else in the Wellbeing industry.
Above are 8 of the 13 graduates of Jude Blereau’s Natural Chefs Training Program. The photo was taken at Jeff Pow’s beautiful property Southampton Homestead near Balingup in Western Australia; during the week we spent there teaching public classes and meeting producers. Jeff is reinventing and rebuilding his biodynamic farm, after a devastating fire early this year. Western Australians can purchase his beautiful multicoloured eggs (each box comes with one of the layers feathers) at Taste of Balingup and other suppliers of local sustainable produce. His ducks should come on line in 2014.
I spent October and November teaching public classes and the sourdough baking, lacto fermentation, poultry, meat and fish units of the Natural Chefs Training Program, which is held at Don Hancey’s fabulously professional Paramount Catering Kitchen, in Perth.
I will be back in Perth from early September 2014 to continue this work. You can find out more and apply for the Natural Chefs Training 2014 prospectus here. This is an exceptionally good course, not for the squeamish or of faint heart. I am thrilled and honoured to know I am part of a program, which is developing people with a deep grounded and rounded understanding of whole foods and the wholefood industry. You will find many images of the food the students learned to make and many more; on my instagram account wholefoodee
I have a few Workshops and Classes planned for February, March and April, more to be announced soon.
For now you might like to join me and Real Food Projects at Vaucluse House on February 23rd. I will be taking a small group through a 2.5 hour, hands on class of Capturing Cultures, the colonial way, click here for more information and to book. This class includes lunch and tours of the Kitchen and Kitchen garden.
For an all day, more in-depth exploration of Capturing Cultures, including dairy curds and whey and lacto fermented vegetables and fruits join me at The Lost + Found Department on the Northern Beaches March 1st
There will be two classes, with a delicious lunch at the exquisite long table in the tented barn in-between . For more information and to book please click here
When I co founded Iku Wholefood with Willem Venter in 1985, it was to demonstrate how the use of traditional wholefood ingredients could result in inspiring and delicious meals, free from the usual reliance on nightshades, dairy foods and animal products. 28 years later with a whole lot of very hard work done by current owner Ken Israel and his staff, there are 15 Iku’s in Sydney and it is still a place to find excellent food.
When Iku began our innovative creations attracted people from far and wide. Much of my inspiration came from the months I spent studying Macrobiotic cooking and teaching English in Japan. During the past year I spent 10 months in London and my love of Japanese whole food ingredients was reinvigorated. I have created a new class to show people how many traditional Japanese ingredients can be put to use with ease and fabulous results. My cooking now includes the use of fish and other animal products and this class will include these, dairy is not a tradition Japanese food and as such will not be included. Products will be sourced through suppliers such as Spiral Foods whose integrity and monitoring I have trusted for 30 years. I ran a 3 hour class in Perth and recognised this topic requires a more in depth format. I am delighted to be offering Everyday Japanese Wholefoods this as a 6 hour workshop with lunch at the long table included, this workshop will be held at The Lost + Found Department, on March 2nd for more information and to book click here.
I have just arranged to teach at the beautiful Mondo Organics Cooking School in Brisbane. I shall be teaching a two day workshop on Lacto fermentation and Sourdough baking, click here to go direct to booking, via Mondo Organics. It seems these are incredibly popular classes. After more than 40 years of capturing cultures it seems the time is now, for sharing. Please let any Brisbane folk, you think might enjoy this weekend know. Many thanks for your continued enthusiasm and support.
If I do not see you at one of these events I do hope I will soon.
My warmest wishes for the festive season when giving to others is perhaps the greatest gift to ourselves.