food for thought
Food is one of life’s necessities, but as trends and times change, has eating become something other than a means to survive and instead more of a sociable way of life? Let’s find out what the Ladies at Lunch have to say.
For some, cooking dinner and feeding the masses is a mundane daily task. For others it’s an opportunity to be inventive with flavour combinations and introduce new ingredients. One thing is for sure – food brings people together.
So being the Gourmet issue, it was appropriate this month to discuss all things food, while indulging on a delicious two-course meal at Hotel Maroochydore.
Joining me for lunch was Colleen Rose, owner of Lucy and Loo; Janzey Pratt, co-owner of One Agency; Pamela Pannifex, owner of Sunshine Holistic Counselling; Helen Shearn, founder of Listen Connect and Care; and Rachael Yurko, owner of Insurance Works.
profile: What’s your take on the food evolution? Have you succumbed to any lifestyle changes?
janzey: I had to for health reasons, and you become aware of how much is in our food that’s not good for us. Because of the autoimmune diagnosis, I had to look at anything that was inflammatory. Coffee is still my worst enemy, but I love it and I just have to find ways of decaffeinating it and using different types of milk. It’s been a three-year journey with food and it’s not raw eating, for me it’s clean eating, and it’s been good for the whole family. It’s funny because now I’m teaching my mum and dad who are in their 70s, and it’s a real shift for them.
rachael: I don’t know that I really ever subscribed to any particular food trend. We always eat from the garden to our plate, but my food philosophy always has been, and always will be, to put in as much of the good stuff as you can. The only thing that annoys me about food trends is when you see people banging on about, ‘It’s got to be this way, this is the best way to eat,’ when it’s about knowing what’s good for you, and there’s not any one good or bad way to eat or treat your body. It’s being able to listen to and know what you’re going to respond best to.
helen: I think it’s interesting when you have social media and all these cooking shows, people get caught up in the hype, but you need to stick to your own mechanisms. I’ve noticed as I’ve grown older I have a lower tolerance to certain foods.
colleen: Coming from Ireland, I’ve always eaten quite heavy foods – pies and stews – and I’ve grown up on meat and three veg and having a sweet after. When I came to Australia and saw salads and seafood I was like, ‘What is this? It’s so random’. I love the food here now, but it took me a while and I had to be very experimental, to open my mind. But I think, especially in Australia, it’s now all about the experience you have; chefs have changed and now it’s about the presentation, the visual, the textures, the balances, whereas back at home I would just order a pie or plain chicken and chips, but that’s probably not acceptable here for dining.
pamela: I think it’s great how food is more front and centre on everyone’s minds these days, because when I graduated from naturopathy, the general public was not aware and not thinking about food. However, I think it’s a double-edged sword. I think it’s come at a price, because food has now become a marketable product with the celebrity chefs and fad diets, in a way it disempowers people because they just get on a particular bandwagon and medically, the results can be more stressful because they’re less in touch with their own bodies and having common sense.
profile: What are some of your childhood food memories or traditions within your family?
rachael: Any of my girlfriends growing up would say their memories are of inside my kitchen. I remember pulling a couch into the kitchen while we spent the whole afternoon cooking. And growing up, every time we would go to the shops if Mum would see something she hadn’t had before, she would say, ‘Do you think we should get this and figure out how we’re going to cook it?’. It was always about exploring food. And that’s the same now – when we go to the markets to pick what we’re going to grow, if we see something we haven’t had before or haven’t experienced growing, we’ll get it and figure out afterwards how to use it.
janzey: It’s good to give kids that sense of adventure. We’re taking the kids to a degustation menu tonight. They love food and they like experimenting with it. We were taught at a young age how to cook our own meals and our kids have learnt that as well – they’ve gone from basic tea and toast to shepherd’s pie. They need to know how to look after themselves from a young age. We also sit down to the table more often than we don’t, and we have a ‘mattress night’ where we’ll watch a movie and have popcorn and pizza and move the mattresses out in front of the tv as a treat.
pamela: I remember times at my father’s beach cottage, having bacon and eggs and bubble and squeak, and roast chickens, and barbecues for dinner. For me that brings memories of being with my father and my sisters and having a secure and happy experience.
When I came to Australia and saw salads and seafood I was like, ‘What is this? It’s so random’. I love the food here now, but it took me a while and I had to be very experimental, to open my mind.”
helen: I grew up, after the age of nine, being brought up by my father, and my sister was four at the time, so we had a very unconventional life in that my father continued to work full time and still cared for us. We learnt to cook at an early age to help him, but he used to bake cakes on a Sunday, that was when we would have dessert or pudding because that was a special or formal meal. It wouldn’t be unusual to get up on a Sunday and he’d be baking a cake before he’d go off to bowls.
colleen: My mother is one of 13 children, so I have 100 cousins on one side of my family and we lived two doors away from my grandparents and we all lived in the same area. So everybody came and brought a plate on a Sunday after Mass and it was almost chaotic. The quicker you got in there the better. Food wasn’t something we would analyse – you would jump, grab, eat and get out. Everything was very basic, but we always had our treat at the end and before dessert my granny would line us up and we’d open our mouths and she’d run up and down with the squirty cream!
pamela: I was just reflecting, our oldest son is 22 and when he comes to visit us he does big cook-up breakfasts – that’s his thing – and I just realised as a kid that was probably my biggest memory, the cook-up breakfasts. That’s kind of cool, I’ve just realised we’ve got a tradition!
profile: Running your own businesses, you lead busy lives, what is your go-to dish?
pamela: A fillet of salmon, because you can cook it in a couple of minutes and have it with a salad.
rachael: Vietnamese salad has always been a favourite.
janzey: Roast vegies like tomatoes, capsicums, broccoli, cauliflower – throw them in the oven with coconut oil, sesame seed, garlic salt, cracked pepper. Then oven bake salmon, or fry it with the skin on with lots of salt, or chicken breasts.
colleen: I’m a big believer in bulk cooking. I’ll do one big shop and make about four different types of homemade soups and pies and then I’ll cook from morning until night for a day or two and then freeze everything.
helen: Anything with salad.
Hotel Maroochydore has recently re-opened after an extensive refurbishment, and the result is a warm and inviting atmosphere, providing the ideal location for a lunch or dinner with friends or family, as well as an option for your next function.
The hotel boasts a menu suitable for all occasions, and on the day of our visit, we were treated to a sampling of two dishes available for functions, showcasing fresh and flavoursome ingredients.
For the first course we enjoyed smoked salmon and watercress salad with pickled rhubarb, crème fraiche and avocado salsa; the smoky flavour of the salmon was a mouth-waterer from the moment the plate hit the table, and the accompanying salad was a treasure-trove of textures, colours and flavours – a beautiful precursor for what was to come.
Second course was a delicious camembert and sun-dried tomato-stuffed chicken breast, served on a chorizo risotto with buttered spinach and hollandaise. The creamy filling was flavoursome, without being too overpowering, and worked beautifully with the risotto. It was a warm dish, but not too heavy, with the spinach cutting through the richness of the sauces.
Both dishes were perfectly matched with a glass of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to complement the depth of flavours displayed by head chef Jon Boon.
201-207 Maroochydore Road, Maroochydore • Phone: 5479 5611