My passion for fresh produce and quality country-style cooking stems from my upbringing on a market garden in Hastings, Victoria. From a very young age I knew the difference in the aroma and flavour between something picked fresh from the paddock and supermarket produce. Even today, I’ll still try to source lemons from local trees and pumpkins from hobby farmers’ paddocks, rather than buy from these from the supermarket. I like to swap this fresh produce for our readymade meals – bartering at its best!
In the mid-80s, my family bought a local pub in Tasmania. It was total tree change for all of us; my parents were busy running the hotel and restaurant, while I was constantly in and out of the kitchen, helping with food preparation and sampling new dishes.
It was inevitable that I’d train as a chef after leaving school and I was fortunate to train at the Battery Point Brasserie in Hobart. I completed my apprenticeship under Graeme Phillips, now a well-known Tasmanian food and wine writer.
I have such fond food memories of my time at Graeme’s Battery Point Brasserie. It was a small 40-seat restaurant with a fabulous foodie vibe. We sourced fresh herbs from a local Greek lady and venison from the farm of a friend-of-a-friend. We also baked our own amazing bread, made our own pasta and ice cream and produced all kinds of offal, sausages, pork pies and terrines – earthy dishes that are making a comeback today.
After qualifying as a chef, I set out on a journey that would take me around the world. I spent time in Canada, New Zealand and the UK learning about new techniques and ingredients and honing my cooking skills in a range of different kitchens, from large restaurants to intimate brasseries, country hotels and pubs.
Returning to Australia 1999, I found myself immersed in the catering industry after several friends asked me to cater their parties. My ethos for my catering customers was exactly the same as the way I cooked for my hospitality customers; fresh ingredients, interesting recipes and no-fuss comfort food, all served up with a smile.
Word spread quickly and soon I was ready to take a huge leap of faith and move into my own commercial kitchen.
And so Rustik Catering and Food Store was born.
Situated in Parkdale – an area I didn’t know well when I started out, but have come to love for its enthusiastic foodies – today my business is thriving.
Together with my fantastic team – Jai, our full time chef, Connie, our Asian-fusion queen and Paulette who looks after the corporate catering side of the business – we prepare a wide range of great-value ready meals daily and provide catering for corporate events.
You’ll find us cooking a storm between 9am and 6pm weekdays (9am and 7pm on Fridays). Why not stop by and grab a snack, see what’s on offer for tonight’s dinner or have a chat with us about your next event?