When I think broadly about cooking, this is what’s important to me:
- If possible, use the freshest produce available either cultivated or wild that is at its peak. It’s going taste alive.
- Consider the ethics and cultural respectfulness of who, how and where food comes from, which means paying for the privilege and paying as direct to its origin as possible.
- Being resourceful and considerate of health and balance in approach.
- The history of an ingredient to its place of origin.
- Maintaining a curiosity for recipes and traditions of the past.
- Taking care to cook the best I can for whom I cook and respecting their needs.
It sounds so simple, but to cook well you need to really enjoy the sensory pleasure of tasting what you eat and I’ve always loved to eat. In South Australia during the early 1970’s, I was the kid in kindergarten that happily drank the issued and obligatory milk bottles that other kids were repelled by. I dug out and savoured the buttery crust of cream at the top; feeling it melt in my mouth and taste sweet, grassy, nutty and feral all at once. This is a strong memory unlike my ability to remember my times tables.
To me, cooking is an intense expression of creativity and culture, time and place and love. Sometimes though it can just be what you need to do to get through the day, simply making toast, slicing cheese and opening a jar of pickles.
To eat well means your cooking needs to adapt to the way you live and that changes enormously over the course of your life. Fortunately, there are infinite possibilities to make that work and I’m learning and adapting as my life changes.
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 in Melbourne would not eventuate in a promising career I began my training as a chef under Maggie Beer.
Training with Maggie was a kind of awakening that started a professional journey with food, which has taken me all over the world and paused in Western Australia, where I settled in Fremantle in 1990.
At the beginning of 2005, my then husband Chris and I moved our family to Pemberton, in WA’s Southern Forests region. I wanted a country childhood for our kids and to cook professionally again. 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 motly flock of chooks became our new home.
In 2011 we opened Foragers Field Kitchen & Cooking School. The region’s fresh produce, the culinary heritage of the early settlers and giving visitors a taste of what makes the Southern Forests a truly wonderful place formed the core of my approach in the kitchen.
The residential cooking school and dinner events at Foragers allowed me to showcase these local treasures. We also attempted, although not always succeeded 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, people and place really connect through food, particularly picnics or food taken to a special place outdoors to be enjoyed. This was illustrated 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. Many of which are now on this website. 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. Together with the support of the Southern Forests Food Council and the amazing photography of Craig Kinder, I had the privilege to write the stories of 40 local producers and develop recipes with their produce, which took in all the seasons. It was a without a doubt, a career highlight from the very start to the last copy sold.
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 recipes, stories and other random creative stuff with you. There are hundreds if not thousands of personal food blogs out there, but I hope you find something here that works for you.
I’m guessing if you’ve got this far down the page you’ll understand this already, but please be respectful. All content and photos on this site are protected by copyright and cannot be used without permission. If you would like to feature any of my recipes, photos or writing on or in any electronic or print publications, personal or commercial, please contact me for rates and permission.