20 November 2011

what she said..

She is Kylie Kwong.

I am currently reading her latest book, "It Tastes Better". I will write about this incredible example of a labour of love another time - it is really, really wonderful. Reading this book has come at a perfect time, when I am just starting to explore and understand the importance of issues surrounding sustainability in our food production, which, incidentally, I have come to via my experiences this year shopping at my local organic farmer's market. Is it actually an organic farmer selling me his ware ? Yes it is. Picked that week ? Yep. Does it TASTE BETTER ? YES.

In short, Kylie Kwong wrote this book over 3 years, during which time she toured Australia, conducting extensive farm/vineyard/fishery visits and interviews with the producers from whom Kylie sources the produce for her (immaculate) Surry Hills restaurant, Billy Kwong. I had been reading the chapters on the seafood producers last week, when I read an update from her facebook page about a fish delivery that she had just taken at Billy Kwong.

A Kylie Kwong status update is an incredibly detailed affair where she writes with a HUUUGE amount of enthusiasm for the produce that they (@ Billy Kwong) will be working with for that night's menu. After reading one afternoon last week about some amazing Pink Snapper and wonderful fisherman who caught it, I felt compelled to post the following question:

So, I said:

Kylie, I have just finished reading the seafood chapers of "It Tastes Better" and am, genuinely, totally inspired by these fisher-ppl ! I LOVE that we can come to your restaurant to enjoy their seafood - WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT if Billy Kwong could somehow enable more ppl to connect directly to this sustainably produced/caught seafood via some ordering service, so that we can ALSO cook it at home.. ? (A la Feather + Bone.. or something...?) I know it's a long shot, but after reading about it all in so much detail, I just want to support them + eat more ! : )

And then, she said:

Tanja, you can!!! Go to CHRISTIES at the Sydney Fish Markets for example and tell them you are totally into sustainably caught seafood and they will have the fish for you - they are one of the seafood mongers I use ( very much because of their sustainability policy ), they are incredibly diligent about ethically caught seafood etc. Tell them KK sent you! I speak with them every day!!!! They are like the lovely Grant Hilliard of Feather & Bone, as you mention above ( now, HE IS SPECIAL! Infact, I source my beautiful Melanda Park pork belly mince from Grant for my Market dumplings and for the Sung Choi Bao of Pork, at BK ) I always encourage people, to ASK, ASK, ASK QUESTIONS of their providore - 'What is this fish called? Tell me about it's provenance? Who caught it? When did they catch it? How did they catch it? Where did they catch it? " All VERY SIMPLE, straightforward questions Tanja that the person, selling the product, should absolutely know! If they DON'T know, then you need to change providores. When they DO know the answers, then you can rest assured that the product will be beautiful, because you are buying it from someone who 'cares', you are dealing with a person who has taken the time, who has 'integrity', who has RESPECT. I source a lot of my organic fruit & veg from Eliot Rickards of Wholefoods House, Alexandria / Woollahra - ask him any question about any of the stunning produce that sits on his shelves and he knows the entire story, the entire history; just wonderful! I feel so INSPIRED by such people, I then go to BK and tell these stories to my chefs and my waiters, who then pass it onto my customers, and at the end of the day, 'everyone wins' don't they - cos the 'energy' and 'good karma' so to speak, of all these growers, fishermen, winemakers, bread makers, etc - can be literally 'tasted' and 'felt' on a very subtle level. This is precisely why I am going absolutely 'NUTS' with excitement about Patrice Newell's biodynamic garlic, and Mike & Gayle Quarmby's Native Australian bush food - when you know the stories and motivations and intentions behind the people who grow the food, then one's entire eating and dining experience is enhanced. Thankyou for taking the time to read my book, I really appreciate it ... we cooks are only as good as the produce we are able to put on our plates .... K x

Wow, I love it. I mean, talk about passion ! Inspiration is alive and well in the Billy Kwong kitchen !

So, hence, my blogging-silence was broken by a message that I thought worth sharing, from a person worth listening to.

ps I'm so painfully aware of how little I've blogged this year, despite how much I feel I have learnt + delicious experience I've had ! Having taken on a Masters on top of working this year, it has really eaten into 'blogging time'. Anyway, hopefully I'll catch up a little in the holidays.


Allie said...

Hi Tanja,
I’m working on a new Australian cookbook and would love to talk with you more about it, do you have an email address so I can send you some more info?

tanja said...

Hi Allie, I'd love to hear from you ! The best email to catch me on is tanjabinggeli@hotmail.com

Sophie said...

I'll definitely be checking out this book, I too am just getting into finding out more about sustainable food production. Thanks for the suggestion!

Elizabeth said...

Fantastic book, I must checkout it at this weekend. Thanks