So whether it’s founding organisations such as Fine Food Committee or taking a driving seat at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) and Sydney Royal Wine Show this is a woman who works tirelessly including her many charities. Just when you thought she might ‘take a break’ and eat a Kit Kat she is revealing ‘Baking Secrets’ to the world. But let’s talk about her passion for eating and drinking all things Australian.
What triggered your passion for food?
100% of people eat! My parents were great entertainers. Mum was a good home cook and dad had business people from overseas so it all started round the dinner table.
Looking back when did you start cooking?
I started cooking around 16. A few reasons; one of my school mates mums used to get mags from the US and we would read them under the desk! Of course it’s pretty cool if you can cook and you have a boyfriend. I saved up my pocket money and bought The Margret Fulton cook book. I remember reading a recipe that had something in it called ‘olive oil’ and had to go to the chemist to get it!
What is your food philosophy and how has it changed?
It’s not changed, it’s evolved. I have always been a proud Australian and eat and drink Australian. Given my years at the Australian Women’s Weekly, so much research came across my desk but for every research there is equal and opposite research, depending who has funded it. The closer you eat things to their natural state, in variety and in moderation the better off you will be. So butter will be better than margarine – milk a cow, stir fast and you have butter not something which is manufactured grey, then needs to be bleached and dyed to look like butter.
I have always been a mad supporter of farmers – Australia is blessed because we have so many climates but there are challenges of droughts, floods and bush fires. We must support small producers. I was the driving force to create the very first Fine Food competitions at the RAS, we launched with Australian olive oil and coffee. I don’t buy packaged food or fast food. Cooking from scratch can be the fastest food.
In your journey of meeting producers around Australia which ones stood out?
There are so many innovative people who I get to meet including many through the filming of “Taste of Australia” (the cookbook is out in September). Vanya Cullen (Cullen’s Wines) made a good winery great through the transformation into a biodynamic vineyard. Wild Brumby at Jindabyne grow raspberries and make schnapps from locally sourced fruit. Snowy Mountains Hobbit Farm who make goats cheese. Milly Hill Lamb at Armidale who have a strict breeding and feeding regime.
Which local experiences would you go back and re-live?
Kimberly Mud Crabbing! I went out with this guy – he was half indigenous/Japanese/Caucasian using the ways his father had taught him: with a wire with a hook on the end. You look for a crab hole then you have to be patient to wait for it. We found one crab but the male was too small so he put it back, you can’t catch females, then he found a stranded turtle and carried it back to water. We caught a crab, burnt drift wood and we ate it then and there. Another memory is of a farmer in Kimberly, Kununurra in who picked up his earth and smelt it with joy and said “if I could use this as deodorant I would”.
What can Australians do to help producers?
Buy Australian. Read the labels and see where it’s really from. I am Chair of Sydney Royal Wine show and I won’t go to a restaurant which only serves imported wines. Years ago I started campaigning that the NSW government should not be allowed to entertain without non-NSW wines. This is now fact.
It all follows; buy in season it’s more affordable, there are less food miles, it’s less likely to have preservatives. You are supporting Australian farmers and our economy.
What places should Australian’s buy their food from?
Start by voting at the cash register. I am all about honest labelling of food. Let people know. Not everyone wants or can afford free range. Give people the information to make the choice. I love farmers markets where shopping is a joy not a chore.
What are the one or two things we can do differently which can make a difference?
It’s difficult, what do organic or free range mean? We need better definitions and regulations. If you want to make a difference and save money then drink tap water, not imported water. Buying free range eggs is a small change which everyone can make. Free range chickens too. Try not to buy things out of season. In winter I use tinned tomatoes. It’s one of the joys of the season. I just got out my pressure cooker the other night as I had my heart set on Osso Bucco and thought what a good idea this is!! Sometimes we forget!
How have Australians changed in their approach food over the years?
Australia has no charted food tradition, because we are a new country we have had to adopt and adapt. We travel; migrants have settled here and we have been very willing to accept and understand their cuisines. Because we are not a highly urbanised country we still understand milk comes from cows! Food trends are increasing multicultural. Mexican, South American, Peruvian and now return to French. There is more interest in provenance of food.
Confess… what are your secret foodie obsessive tendencies?
I love that Australia grows truffles! Pepe Saya butter on great bread! Just look at the rise of artisanal bread, such as Brasserie bread out at Banksmeadow
What are you having for dinner tonight?
Drunken Chicken – you really do need to have a good chicken. I just had some New Zealand King Salmon for lunch.
See below for some delicious recipes by Lyndey Milan on The Carousel!
Mince 5 ways
Zucchini & Goats Cheese tarts
Lyndey Milan’s Low-Fat Prawn Laksa Recipe
Murray Cod With ‘Peperonata’ & Wilted Spinach
Rib-Eye of Beef With Irish Whiskey Sauce & Pea Medley