Category Archives: Food Issues

Eating at work: five rules of engagement


Eating at the work desk is fraught with difficulty (iPhoto)

Not long before I left my last job I was at my desk eating a Crunchie — you know, one of those Cadbury chocolate-covered honeycomb bars — quite noisily, it turned out. The boss stood up, peered over the partition between the ‘hot desks’ we occupied, muttered something about eating (I can’t remember what, exactly) and smiled in a not really smiling kind of way. I was sufficiently chastised to suck the rest of that Crunchie, which was aptly named by the marketing geniuses at Cadbury, I have to say.

The next day, sitting at the same hot desk, I was eating a bag of crisps — you know, those extra-crispy Kettle Chip kind — quite noisily, it turned out. The boss stood up, peered at me over our partition and said: “Oh, you again!” I was mortified. Not once, but twice i’d been ousted by the boss — of all people — for my inelegant office eating habits. Continue reading


Filed under Food Issues, Reflections

Sugar rush: the growing taste for elaborate desserts


Anna Polyviou’s Tropic-Anna dessert. Photo: James Morgan

It’s ironic that John Ralley, head pastry chef at Sydney’s Wildfire restaurant, has a hairdryer on his work bench. Tattoos cover just about every inch of his visible flesh, he wears a black ear gauge that has stretched the lobe to a gaping hole, and has a shock of dark, unkempt hair.

But it wasn’t Ralley’s unruly locks that were destined to be blow-dried. It was the blown-sugar apricot he was attempting to cool before he could embark on the next stage of his four-textured apricot dessert: ­filling it with exquisite mousse. Read the full article in The Australian Financial Review.


Filed under Chefs, Food Issues

Why penalty rates should axed in the hospitality industry

So what do you think about penalty rates in the hospitality industry? These are additional rates of pay that employers must legally pay staff for working outside so-called ‘normal’ hours. Penalty rates paid to hospitality staff include a 25 percent premium to work on a Saturday, and 50 percent premium on Sundays. Staff who work weeknight evenings are paid a 10 percent penalty between 10pm and 12am, and a 15 percent penalty between 12am and 7am. But are they are farce in today’s 24/7 society? Continue reading


Filed under Food Issues, Reflections

How to dispatch an old chook and earn yourself dinner


Chickens strung up after the dispatch at a Whole Larder Love workshop (Photo: Brenda Pomponio)

The deed was done; the chook’s neck was wrung. Actually her jugular was cut and neck broken, but more on that later. The important point is that I slaughtered a chicken (under professional tutelage), then plucked, guttered, butchered and poached her thin frame. I shredded her flesh and turned it into Shawarma — a Middle Eastern dish — with the help of a plethora of spices and some lugs of olive oil. I ate her — wrapped in flat bread slathered in humous, with sliced ripe tomatoes and peppery home-grown rocket — standing by my kitchen bench. My personal standing ovation to this hard working girl. Continue reading


Filed under Cooking classes, workshops, masterclasses, Food Issues, Gastronomic Travels

Question of the week: could you kill an animal to eat?

Would you, could you, kill an animal to eat? For most of us, it’s a hypothetical question. We’re not in a position to go out and kill a beast, upon which to feast. Nor do we need to. We can pop down to the local butcher, point to a precisely portioned cut of meat, have it plastic wrapped or or vacuum packed within minutes, and there’s no blood on our hands. Not one crimson splash.

I raise the question because i will be attending a Whole Larder Love food workshop next weekend, where participants have the opportunity to “dispatch” a chicken. Rabbit skinning is also on the agenda, as is plucking and gutting and butchering.

I confidently signed up for the whole hands-on experience (participants can just watch, if they choose), but as the time nears i’ve started to question whether i will be able to see it through. Says my good friend Mel — who is accompanying me on this gastronomic adventure: “I’ll probably chicken out.”

We have chooks at our community garden. When a batch of chicks turned out to be roosters, they were dispatched by one of the garden members. He was qualified for the job. By this time next week i could be, too. Stay tuned.




Filed under Food Issues, Produce, Question of the week