You were inspired by your Nan’s love of cooking. What has she imparted on you?
Both my grannies were fantastic bakers. They both left their culinary impression on me significantly especially with their natural ability to bake cakes and desserts. My nana Logue made the best trifle and Pavlova and my maternal grandmother loved stewing fruit.
How important for you is a sense of connection to the environment and the land when it comes to cooking?
Being a country girl, I have an innate connection to the land and what it reaps. When I was growing up, I was always collecting, picking and fishing for the food I ate. From mushrooming with my family to Cray fishing with my nana, I was always fascinated by where my food came from. These days, I have a real understanding for the seasonality of produce. This is important as a cook because the fresher and more seasonal your produce is, the better your food tastes.
How long have you lived in your beautiful Essington Park home?
I fell in love with Essington Park, my country home and property, about 18years ago when I stumbled across it. They say you can’t take the country out of the girl and I really get that. I love how the house feels, and knowing that generations of mothers and grandmothers have cooked in my kitchen and nurtured the ones they love with beautiful heart-warming meals.
You forage for ingredients around your home – in the Blue Mountains of NSW near Lake Oberon. How do you know what is edible and what isn’t?
I know what is edible and what is not through local knowledge and experience. I have been foraging for ingredients since I was a kid. I love to pick mushrooms in the pine forests. This would have to be my favourite Australian produce. This week, I made a beautiful soup with pine mushroom leek and thyme and also braised them with beef and red wine for a divine slow cooked meal with mash potato.
What is your advice to budding foragers?
My best advice for budding forages is “if in doubt chuck it out”
Do these foraged ingredients go into any of your products that we may have tried?
I have just recently spent a couple of weekends in the forest near my home collecting pine mushrooms. These dishes were made available at my Double Bay store.