NOPI and Ottolenghi chef in town

posted 9 October 2016

RAMAEL SCULLY, an Ottolenghi chef since 2005, head chef at NOPI when it opened in 2011 and co-author with Yotam Ottolenghi of the James Beard award-winning NOPI: The Cookbook is in Sydney.
Careers can be kick-started on serendipity and success has many faces. No one, least of all Ramael Scully, could have foreseen how fortune would smile on him, a young Sydney chef, when he embarked on that Australian rite-of-passage trip to London more than a decade ago.
Scully, as he like to be known, hails from Campbelltown. His alma mater is Liverpool TAFE and he’s currently in the throes of opening his first restaurant in London. Watch this space.
Scully’s path from Liverpool TAFE (by way Sydney Showboat, Star City, Wolfie Pizem’s Wolfie’s Grill and Bambu, with Xavier Mouche, and Bathers Pavilion) to London restaurant came about when he landed a job at Ottolenghi. As Yotam Ottolenghi writes in NOPI: The Cookbook, “There was nothing unusual or particularly promising about this latest Aussie recruit… [and] with the chronic shortage of chefs in London, I couldn’t really afford to be picky.” Things changed once he’d tasted Scully’s food – “I was hooked”.
The story of these two men and their different food styles has played out in the kitchen for the past decade. With Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage (his surname comes courtesy of his Malay/Irish dad) Scully is all about vibrant flavour and spices, in fiery contrast to Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean and Middle Eastern thematic.
Like any young chef worth his salt, Scully collaborates directly with growers, including The Modern Salad Grower Sean O’Neill from Keveral Farm in Cornwall, turns reject vegies into pickles and likes to pickle, salt and dry or cure, salt, dry and hang much of his food, creating amazing ingredients to use in his multi-layered dishes later on.
When in Sydney, Scully will appear at the following:
Ramael Scully in conversation with Barbara Sweeney on NOPI: The Cookbook.
DATE 6pm, Monday October 17, 2016
VENUE Potts Point Bookshop, 14 Macleay Street, Potts Point
Ramael Scully demonstration cooking class, as part of the Taste of the Riverina food festival.
DATE 1pm TO 4.30pm, Sunday October 23
VENUE Food I Am, Wagga Wagga
With an accent on vegetables at both Ottolenghi and NOPI, Sydney’s Yellow was an obvious place for Scully to present his guest chef menu. Co-owner Brent Savage understands the power of collaboration: “We’ve always enjoyed hosting guest chefs at Yellow. It’s a great opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge and give our customers and staff the opportunity to experience something different,” he says.
Odds on – Scully will present something very different.
DATES Monday October 24, 2016 SOLD OUT
AND Tuesday October 25, 2016 JUST POSTED – GET IN QUICK
VENUE Yellow, 57 Macleay Street, Potts Point
TICKETS Five-course menu $95 Matching wines $60
BOOKINGS (02) 9332 2344
Ramael Scully cooking demonstrations at Carriageworks Farmers’ Market
DATE 9am, 10am and 11am, Saturday October 29
VENUE Carriageworks, Wilson Street, Darlington
Burnt spring onion dip with kale
Tomato with wasabi mascarpone
Purple sprouting broccoli with skordalia
Green salad with sumac, red onion and allspice
Celeriac puree with spiced cauliflower
Whole roast celeriac
Ramael Scully events are bought to you by Food & Words, food events with a literary bent.
ENQUIRES 0413 259 535;

Speed meet a farmer

posted 17 August 2016
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We’re launching The Field Guide to Australian Produce (Thames & Hudson) at the Food & Words launch party on Friday 9 September at The Mint, Sydney.
The Field Guide tells the stories of the people growing and producing the best food in the country, and you know we like that.
You’ll get to meet the Field Guide’s editor Ewan McEoin, see the book ahead of anyone else – and get it signed. But best of all, you can Speed Meet a Farmer. Some of the very farmers who are listed in this compendium of deliciousness.
The way it works is this. We’ve invited farming friends to come along and meet you in speedy one-on-one sessions. You get to ask them whatever you like, about soil, sustainability, work hours, recalcitrant pigs and the highs and lows of farming life. No topic off limits. Tasmanian veggie grower Paulette Whitney/Provenance Growers, Blue Mountains NSW heirloom veggie specialist Erika Watson from Epicurean Harvest and Martin Boetz from Cooks Co-op are among the chosen.
We’re also very, very pleased that the menu is going to feature food direct from many of the farmers listed in the Field Guide and some of our favourites, including gelato from The Pines Kiama dairy in Kiama NSW, where this photograph was taken (by Michael Wee for Country Style).
Book tickets here

What I’m reading now…

posted 9 August 2016
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The first book about food that Ovvio Organics founder Anthia Koullouros remembers reading from beginning to end, when she was about 11, was Paavo Airola’s book How to get Well.
“I’ve still got it. It talked about the difference between synthetic vitamins and getting vitamins from your food. I was a little hypochondriac. I’d read through the symptoms and think, ‘I’ve got that’, ‘I’ll do that’. I was a practitioner in the making.
“I don’t buy whole food or health food cookbooks. I buy normal, everyday cookbooks. I grew up in a Cypriot household where making our own yoghurt, pickles and bread was normal. Right now I’m reading (sexy Swedish TV star and food writer) Lotta Lundgren’s If I Were Your Wife: or how to make every day taste like Saturday (New Holland). It’s gorgeous. It reads like poetry and the recipes are beautiful.
“The cover shot is a woman dressed in a satin evening dress. Her wrists are heavy with circles of pearl bracelets and she has rings on her fingers – and in her hand, a leg of lamb” (or is it a haunch of venison?).
Anthia published her own book on real, normal, tasty, everyday food that’s good for you but not health food I Am Food (Penguin/Lantern). We’re proud that Anthia will be part of Food & Words writers’ festival on September 9-10, where she’ll serve a selection of hot and cold Ovvio Organics teas, selected especially for the event.

The Crusader – and bush goddess

posted 7 August 2016
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PENNIE SCOTT is a force for change, a green crusader, and a whirlwind of action. She farms free-range pigs at her farm, Springview Eco-Farm, in southwest NSW and was instrumental in starting the Eat Local Thursday, a farmers’ market in Wagga Wagga. She has researched the state of our food system and found it wanting.
We asked Pennie why she does what she does.
‘Why do I do what I do? For love of my country. Holiistic, connected, thriving ecosystems in all their splendour motivate me to advocate for chemical and GMO-free food systems and the most effective vehicle I know to educate people about the importance is food.
The foods we choose to eat have either a direct positive or, most frequently, a negative impact on the surrounding landscapes; so many choices are made in ignorance with dire consequences for future generations.
Emotions generally inspire purchasing decisions and I aim to speak eloquently and from my heart about why everyone needs to be aware of the consequences of their actions AND by providing an alternative to supermarkets for purchasing ethical, chemical and GMO-free foods; doing so makes a world of difference.’

The Planthunter

posted 7 August 2016
The Planthunter - Hayley West

MEET GEORGINA REID, writer, landscape designer, and founder and editor of The Planthunter. It’s an online magazine that wanders across the cultural landscape, secateurs in hand, exploring the endlessly interesting connections between people and plants. It’s beautiful, irreverent and celebratory, and there’s nothing else like it.
Growing up on a farm in the central west of NSW, Georgina spent her childhood traipsing around a large country garden behind her horticulturalist mother; helping plant, dig, sow, and harvest. She was born with green blood, though it took her some time to take her plant love seriously. Following a degree in journalism she soon decided to change tack and return to plants. Sparks flew, and she knew she was on the right path.
Before launching The Planthunter in 2013, Georgina worked as a landscape designer for a decade. Ever since, however, she’s been running around like a mad woman! As well as editing The Planthunter she’s also a regular contributor to The Design Files and Belle, runs workshops, occasionally designs gardens, and speaks at various events when asked nicely. When she’s not writing, thinking, and talking about plants she’s eating them – her other passion.

Provenance Growers at Food & Words

posted 23 July 2016
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Sometime in 2013, Paulette Whitney of Provenance Growers started using photo-sharing app Instagram to show people what she and partner Matt Deakin were doing on their property at Neika, south-west of Hobart. People, including me, lapped it up and in little over a year she’d garnered nearly 10,000 followers. It’s now almost double that.
Paulette posts pictures and writes short stories about the 500 unusual edible flowers and lesser known plants, such as celtuce, ashitaba, rock samphire and sweet cicely, latin names and all, that she and Matt grow.
It’s an ideal medium for farmers. “Social media makes you feel less alone,” Paulette says. “We’re out picking all day and only see other people at the school bus stop or on weekends. Instagram is a great way to meet people and learn from each other.”
Provenance Growers sells at the Salamanca Market in Hobart and supplies some of the city’s top restaurants. She’s appearing at Food & Words 2016.
Check out Paulette’s blog here and Instagram feed here
The image above appeared in Country Style in March, 2014. Photograph by Sharyn Cairns. Flowers, clockwise from top left, are skirret, blue chicory, fennel, white borage, ‘Ruby Streak’ mustard leaf, blue borage.

Save these dates

posted 17 May 2016
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Food & Words 2016 the food writers festival will be held on Sept 10 at The Mint, Sydney. Full program details, as well as information on the new launch event on Sept 9 will be posted on June 10.

We also have a lovely day planned for you all on October 16, when we will launch Belinda Jeffery’s new book and enjoy lunch cooked by Sean Moran. More details coming soon: July 29 in fact.

Let’s talk truffles

posted 11 May 2016
Lean Timms French Black Truffles of Canberra (2) copy

Many people have suggested I take Food & Words on the road (thanks for the idea, y’all) but I haven’t till now because I didn’t know where to start (not in a geographically-challenged way mind). As it turned out, all I need was an invitation and that came from the fine folk from the international culinary arts educator Le Cordon Bleu. Mais oui.
“Hey Barb, let’s take Food & Words on the road.”
Out first stop is Canberra. In July, When it’s nice and cold. When truffle farmers from around the region, with the help of Sally, Biddy and Joe, their furry friends, dig the subterranean fungi out from among the roots of their hazelnut trees.
That’s how Truffles: Scents and Sensibilities came into being. A chef (Rodney Dunn, from Tassie’s The Agrarian Kitchen), an academic (Le Cordon Bleu’s Dr Roger Haden, who knows his scents) and a food writer (moi), talking truffles for your amusement and edification. We’ve added a second chef into the mix, a really good one, who’s preparing lunch [executive chef Sean McConnell of Monster Kitchen and Bar at Hotel Hotel enters stage left].
To read more about the speakers and book your ticket, click here.
We’d love to have you join us.
Thank you to the lovely Lean Timms from for the beautiful image. It was taken at French Black Truffles of Canberra in the Majura Valley.