Food Banter with Nims from The Jam Pantry | Gourmand and Gourmet

Food Banter with Nims from The Jam Pantry

As you’d expect, we get asked at least once a week where our favourite breakfast in Brisbane is. And at the top of the list every time, is The Jam Pantry. It’s not just because we know we’ll never find the same dish twice, or because it’s the only place in town that can pair bacon ice cream with a cheddar toastie and actually make it work. It’s all of those things and the fact that owner Nims Zavackas has put her heart and soul (and family – who you’ll often find in the kitchen or behind the counter) into the suburban café, and it shows. Oh, and the chocolate coated cappuccinos, because who doesn’t want one of those? When was the first time you stepped into a kitchen?  I’ve been cooking since I can remember. I grew up sitting on Mum’s kitchen bench in the highlands of PNG, completely obsessed with everything to do with food and independently made my first roast chicken dinner when I was 7.  What inspired your love of food?  The notion that food was the centre point of everything happy in life fed my obsession. I wanted to be a part of that facilitation of happiness.  What’s your favourite ingredient to work with?  Lemon is the most flexible ingredient on my bench. Her juice freshens and lifts a one dimensional flavour, she adds zip and makes a colour true when I use her to deglaze instead of wine. When candied, she adds glamour, when something is need of a rescue, she cleans. If something is too sweet she brings balance, when something is too salty, she softens and when I cut myself, a quick rub on her cut surface restores and heals.  Are there any Australian producers, suppliers or thinkers that are really inspiring you at the moment?  There are some very generous people in this industry with big hearts who are using their positions to really touch and facilitate change in our community. The most prominent person that comes to mind is Adam James, who uses his café Cup From Above to help the marginalised and affect real change in their lives. That kind of courage and heart is far more inspiring than terroire or corn fed. It bring hospitality back to it’s core value: people. Out of all the wildly creative dishes that have popped up on The Jam Pantry’s blackboards, what’s your favourite?  That’s way too hard a question! My favourite type of dish is the simple yet unexpected one. The one that causes people to think and then go home and dare to be better cooks. Has your culinary experimentation ever resulted in disaster?  All the time! That’s the ONLY way to learn. They say the mark of a good cook is turning a disaster into a success. I love being free to completely stuff up and then making a comeback using the mistake that is better than my original thought. It happens every time I flip the boards. jam pantry 2 What’s the cooking tool you couldn’t live without? My paring knife. It opens boxes, peels pears, chops herbs, sections avocados, peels oranges, cuts packets of bacon and successfully threatens my husband! I use a little Kiwi knife that sharpens as soon as it touches my steel and weighs almost nothing. It’s my favourite knife and only cost me $1.49. If we took a peek in your fridge at home, what would we find? Wine, mineral water, apple cider, coconut water, garlic, thyme, strawberries, ingredients for 5 meals and cheese, lots of cheese.  If you could cook for one person in the world, who would it be? My husband’s Mother whom I’ve never met and will never meet as she has now got advanced Alzheimers. I would research her favourite old flavours and make a meal to re-ignite a spark. A moment of pleasure purely for her. Where would we find you when you’re not in the kitchen? Sleeping! What is your pet hate that you wish diners wouldn’t do?  Be inconsiderate of others around them, diners and staff. Society has become very self-centred and I’m afraid the real meaning of food will be lost to selfishness. What do you think of the Brisbane food scene right now? It’s an exciting place to be. There are far more people being courageous and doing what they want to do, rather than following perceived trends or expectations. Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Brisbane that wasn’t at The Jam Pantry? I had my Mother over for dinner last Tuesday night and I put on a corned beef. Now I realise your wanting the lowdown on a great venue, but seriously we eat at home most nights so we can eat in our pyjamas! I served the beef with a zippy salsa verde, baked some parsnips with a fig paste and garlic, tossed some butter sautéed beans with toasted walnuts and chardonnay vinegar and baked cauliflower in a ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and milk mix instead of a white sauce. We washed it down with a rosé and followed it with a pear and chocolate self saucing pudding and cardamom ice cream. Now tell me, where can I go to get that in my pyjamas? Nims | The Jam Pantry