Sunday, October 12, 2008

from the beginning

hi, I'm one of the co-owners of the mount vic cafe at the top of the blue mountains, an hour and a half west of sydney australia. this is the updated blog:

originally posted 03 may 2008:

for the past seven years, I've kept a personal blog, covering my music career, family matters, randoms thoughts, observations, jokes and pure ramblings.

after thirty-odd years in the music biz, I've been feeling the need to move in a different career direction. I'd travelled the world with successful bands and eaten at all kinds of fooderies around the globe. but until I was into my early thirties, I couldn't cook much more than anything from a can or packet.

gradually, I began playing in the kitchen, adding spices, herbs and other elements, experimenting on my friends and family. I'd come up with any excuse to hold a bbq or dinner party, just so that I'd have the excuse to cook.

but it was all random foodplay. I hadn't any formal or even casual training, and really didn't understand the science of food at all.

about five years ago, my partner, the gypsy gal, decided to open a coffeehouse / espresso bar. we ended up with a nice lakeside place north of sydney that had kitchen space and a demand for food. not really being in a position to hire a chef, I jumped in headfirst.

mind you, it was simple stuff, toasted focaccias, soups, salads and the like. typical cafe light brunch stuff. but I got the bug, and soon found myself visiting the local markets, putting daily specials on the board, such as grilled salmon, pastas, gourmet burgers, etc. I found myself befriending local chefs and hanging out in their kitchens while they were prepping, watching, asking questions, learning.

what we started with:

what we created:

after a year, our building was taken over by big money property developers, and we soon found ourselves out on the street. we headed back to sydney holding creditors at bay and found ourselves with an opportunity in a funky old restuarant in the inner west.

there was potential, it seated 40-ish, we had a bar, open fire and featured acoustic music nightly. our mediterranean influenced menu was a hit in an area over-saturated with traditional italian, and we found a great chef. al had previously worked around the sydney area for the likes of serge at regent's and others. he loved what we were doing and came onboard for a pittance of his usual wage. I was his sous/kitchen hand, and learned a lot from him.

a family tragedy called al away, and not having built sufficient trade to hire a qualified chef, I found myself taking the kitchen reins. I'd been on a steep learning curve, but again our menu was relatively easy to maintain. souvlaki, grilled chicken and meats, salt & pepper calamari, I'd gotten a good handle on it all under al's supervision. we hired a kitchen hand and pressed on.

here's what it looked like:

the kitchen, with al ducking out of camera:

again, after about a year, we found ourselves being pressured into an unrealistic lease. reluctantly, we again walked. we swore that we'd never get into pro food again and returned to 'day jobs'. I worked at a guitar store and revived my graphic design business.

that was three years ago, and now it seems, the bug is still biting. I've been considering whether to pick up a casual kitchen gig just to get my skills up, and we'd been exploring a few cafes we'd seen for lease.
it's time to make a serious change in my life. my passion for good food is nearly overwhelming my soul. this blog will chronicle that journey.

oh, the word "foof" comes from the gypsy gal, who when typing the word 'food' into an instant message box, hit the key next to her letter 'd' - hence 'foof'. it's become a long-standing gag in use by our family and friends.