Food banter with Brenda Fawdon | Gourmand and Gourmet

Food banter with Brenda Fawdon

  • Food & Booze
Brenda Fawdon is one seriously busy woman. Visionary and driving force behind Mondo Organics in West End, she somehow recently found the time to produce her first cookbook and all that it entailed; recipe development and testing, styling and all the rest – while successfully running her restaurant, catering business and cooking school. Wowsers. Must be all that organic living! Almost makes us want to hold on to the copies of the cookbook we have to give away…but we’ll be nice. Lucky for us, Brenda was able to take some time out of her busy schedule to chat to us about just what it is that inspires her to be so darn productive. Describe what it is you do so well in a sentence. I present weekly delicious seasonal nourishing cooking classes at Mondo Organics. You’re a chef, restaurateur, cooking school teacher, food presenter and published author, tell us which, of all your projects, is your favourite child? Gardening probably. Ha! I love growing fruit and veg, particularly greens, and then cooking them. For me, there is nothing like harvesting fresh home-grown produce and cooking up a storm. Depending on what I’ve picked, I’ll create a recipe to feature it. Just-picked garden goodies inspire me. How did it all begin? My mother was a brilliant cook and entertainer who inspired me to cook, teach and always be hospitable to others. My first restaurant was Primavera in Spring Hill. I took on a job at the restaurant and then purchased it after 10 months. I was 21. At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal! What is your proudest achievement to date?  Surviving the hospitality industry for 32 years. Strangest thing you ever did to come up with a menu item? At my second restaurant, The Soup Kitchen Café, I purchased a carton of peeled Italian tomatoes and asked my then apprentice Dominique Rizzo to come up with six different styles of soups from six different countries, each with a tomato base. And, of course, Dom was successful. It’s no wonder she went on to be a Ready Steady Cook chef. What would we find if we peeked into your fridge? A smack on the bottom if I hadn’t invited you! Loads of veggies – we go to the local Green Shed organic markets every week. In three words, why should everyone get more organic produce into them? Pesticides are YUCK! Which Australian producers, suppliers or thinkers are inspiring you at the moment? It’s wonderful to see the push for more organic produce across Australia and it’s exciting to see small producers popping up everywhere, from smallgoods to craft beer breweries. Authors that inspire me are Jude Blereau and her wholefood cookbooks, Sandor Katz, the fermentation revivalist, and Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith who taught us how to clear our bodies, homes and workspaces of chemicals. Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Brisbane? I live on Tamborine Mountain, so I eat at the Gold Coast more regularly. Recently I enjoyed a tasting menu at The Fish House, Burleigh Heads. Loved it – awesome beach view and sustainably caught seafood that was fresh, simple and clean. Brisbane’s best kept secret? Many of the streets of West End are lined with tamarind trees. Cooking Asian and need fresh tamarind? Pick from the trees late spring/early summer. If you would like to get your mitts on a little piece of Brenda, we’ve got two copies of the cookbook she poured her heart and soul into, Wholehearted Food, to give away!  To win one enter your details here. Good luck and happy cooking! Words by Ranyhyn Akui.