The Chicken or the egg?

So this is how it started really. My sister and her husband get this brilliant idea called ChefIam and stroked my ego by asking me to write a blog about food.

“So lets get this straight, you want me a property professional in Sydney, Australia (admittedly the food capital of Australia but…) to write a food blog (ok I get it- I’m passionate about the best ingredients and will go to ANY lengths to ensure I’ve got it right and that its seasonally fresh and local where possible) for you guys, one of whom is a PROFESSIONAL and classically French trained CHEF, for their website in the USA? – sure why not!”

The world is getting so small. One thing about following the food scene in the USA, Australia and Europe (Asia? I just don’t know where to start there! – but I will), is that a trend can spread so quickly. A great example is the non-sashimi raw fish thing (crudo) of a few years ago. The New Yorkers adapted the Italian simplicity and it took off there and quickly came to some of Australia’s best places. The common theme …fresh, seasonal, local, quality. It’s what sets the best chefs (and best home-cooks) apart. They care about these things. Some, so much so that they have their own kitchen gardens, their own farms which grow the best beef /pork/lamb, and have cultivated relationships with people they can trust to produce the best and deliver it fresh and intact.

I get such enjoyment from reading the stories of these chefs who work with their producers. And it is they, the producers, who are sharing pride of place with the best chefs, in the best cookery books we are writing. From The French Laundry Cookbook in the US to Tetsuyas in Australia to The River Cottage Café in England.

I’m so enthusiastic about this subject that I have a project in my mind which will allow me to live my dream. There is a farm in Western Sydney in what used to be the foodbelt for the Sydney Basin. Its now being quickly overtaken by development but the farm (50 acres) is still there and has been left to run down over the years. The owner has leased it to a charity for a peppercorn rent (hey there’s an idea) and the charity has started to think of ways to provide for its people (mostly homeless and marginalised as well as refugees) and to make some money at the same time. It’s starting to create a social enterprise based on food. As organic as it can be, as well as goats and sheep, a few cows and … one of my favourite things – chickens.

In Australia we call chickens “Chooks”. I get to go to this farm and play farmer, grow great things and, in time we will start to research and experiment with produce using as our inspiration, the restaurants in Sydney. So, if the new new thing in Sydney; Mr Wong’s, wants a new type of bok choy grown – we will research that and see if we can grow it, commercially and to the standard expected of one of Sydney’s best. In the process we create jobs, provide an outlet for those who need it, and feed the homeless and needy…oh and have a LOT of fun in the process.

So there’s this farm. Lets call it The Farm. In preparation for marketing the farm and getting good ideas we can experiment with, as well as to keep a track on the food scene and trends here and around the joint (AKA The World), I decided to start a twitter account. Its also pretty much what this whole blog thing is about – the provenance of good food: Where it comes from, its quality, ideas, trends, ideas and stuff. So, I called the twitter address @Provenance SE . SE – social enterprise. It’s fascinating seeing the collection of people from around the world providing good quality information, observations and ideas on great quality food. So I’ll be drawing on that from time to time.

I’ve got some chooks in the back yard as well. They are for eggs and occasionally for meat. The coq-au-vin blog coming up in following weeks is a classic example of adapting what we have at our disposal.

Its JUST occurred to me that the answer to the age-old riddle what came first the chicken of the egg is, the chicken.

I love eggs. I love nothing better than a freshly-laid scrambled egg, or making pasta from fresh eggs, or mayonnaise. You can taste it, feel it, see it with a freshly laid egg as opposed to one which has been sitting in a carton for three weeks.

I also like a good story. I like reading them and telling them. Sometimes I can join the two up like the suckling pig story and my connection with Bill Buford, or fresh potatoes and Simon Hopkinson and the hardest story of all to tell – my Masterchef audition and the connection with Tetsuya.

So Welcome, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I will writing it. If you don’t like it – tell me I might not do anything about it but lets talk about it and it might turn into something good and, in the future sometime we will be arguing where this idea came from – just like where it all started…the chicken…or the egg?


Coming up…

1. The dinner party – how it has changed over the years

2. The whole pig and nothing but the pig