I was born in Melbourne, and my first food experiences were mostly thanks to my mother, a thrifty war baby kind of cook, who read Elizabeth David, shopped at the market and made everything from scratch. A bit of a rebel before her time, she banished chips and soft drink from the school tuck shop, and, disillusioned by the loaves available in seventies suburbia, started baking bread for our lunchboxes.
I studied Fine Arts and Literature at Melbourne University, in between a year in the Architecture faculty and another in TOP Art at the then Prahran Tafe. My early jobs in hospitality included an ice cream shop and the chicken sandwiches division of a Melbourne caterer.
In the mid nineties I worked ski seasons in Falls Creek, waiting tables at Winterhaven, where Liz Cinatl and her brilliant young chefs further sparked my interest in the kitchen. After a season as a chalet cook in Val D’Isere I arrived home with a dauphinois dish and a fondue set, and in the years that followed I catered for skiers in Falls Creek over the winter, and worked in galley kitchens on the Sydney harbour over summer.
After a period in graphic design firm (working, as it happened, on food clients) I returned to the kitchen, working for several of Melbourne’s leading catering companies and later on my own as Wonderland Food. From 2001 I worked with fellow cook Sarah Wilson at Pumpkin Lane Kitchen in St Kilda. Sarah introduced me to David Malouf and Claudia Roden, and together we created food for events, venues and festivals. In 2003 our ‘Lamb and Pinenut’ pastry for Pause was listed in The Age Cheap Eats Top 10 dishes under $10.
In 2001 I was asked by photographer Robyn Lea to help out on a food editorial, and so it was that I tipped my toes into the world of food photography, where I was also lucky to assist experienced stylist Maureen McKeon. In food photography I found the place where the art of cookery met the form, color and structure of building an image. In writing the recipes to accompany the photos I discovered the satisfaction of sharing what I liked to cook.