Locally grown produce at its seasonal peak and valuing those who grow it, a curiosity with culinary heritage, the context of time and place and most importantly, care for those for whom I cook. These are the guiding principles that run through the back of my head when I think about what to cook.
Complete and utter sensory escapism through the pleasure of eating and tasting absolutely delicious food that excites and nourishes is what I aspire to and what runs through the front of my head when I think about what to cook.
To me, cooking is an intense expression of creativity and culture, an opportunity to gather people together to share a moment in time and one of the very best ways to bring yourself closer to a place and with the people who are there with you.
I was born and raised in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. After loosing a battle at the age of 17 with my parents who felt studying art would not eventuate in a promising career I began my training as a chef under Maggie Beer.
Training with Maggie was an awakening that started a journey with food that has taken me all over the world that paused in Western Australia, where I settled in Fremantle in 1990.
At the beginning of 2005, my husband Chris and I moved our family to Pemberton, in WA’s Southern Forests region. We wanted a country childhood for our kids with the type of connectedness that only comes from living in a small regional community. Chris wanted to leave the rat race of running a busy cabinetmaking business in the city and I wanted to cook again in the country. An 18 1⁄2 acre smallholding complete with holiday cottages, 2 old horses, a gigantic steer called ‘Jerry’ with terrifyingly long horns, a lopsided old Jersey cow called ‘Ally’ and a flock of chooks became our new home.
In 2011 we shed the skin of the old business and opened Foragers Field Kitchen & Cooking School. The region’s fresh produce, the culinary heritage of the early families and giving visitors a taste of what makes the Southern Forests a truly wonderful place forms the core of our approach here.
The residential cooking school and calendar of seasonal and wood-fired dinner events at Foragers allows us to showcase these local treasures. We also attempt, although not always succeed at husbanding a small tribe of rare breed animals and grow heirloom herbs, vegetables and fruit varieties on our property.
Writing, Teaching and Events
In 2002 my first book, PicNic: Outdoor Feasts in the Australian Landscape was published by Fremantle Press. It was about how food can taste even more amazing when eaten outdoors, with recipes from 12 different picnics shared with 12 different people with lives in the food industry in different locations around Australia. I was fortunate to be short-listed for a number of food media awards as a result.
In 2003 I also started contributing a weekly recipe to The West Australian newspaper’s Coffee Break section. My recipes have also been featured in Homes and Living and Delicious magazines and in regional newspapers.
My second book, Food of the Southern Forests (UWA Publishing) was published in 2014. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate the food, producers and traditions of this wonderful region I currently call home.
I’m lucky enough to be invited to teach, judge and participate in various food events around Western Australia and sometimes beyond, along with my work at Foragers. You’ll find details of these events, plus classes and dinners in the Gatherings section of this website.
This site has been created to allow me to continue sharing my new recipes, stories and other creative meanderings with you. I hope you’ll join me in sourcing, preparing and above all, enjoying wonderfully fresh and absolutely delicious food.