The Weekend Edition - Sleep In. Slow Down. Enjoy.

Angela Hirst

Angela Hirst, Cook, writer, researcher, blogger, teacher and director

Have a vision to work towards and persist despite the difficulties ...

In Short ...

If you’ve happened across the Wandering Cooks warehouse in South Brisbane – perhaps to pick up some nosh from The Lunch Box Kiosk, attend a community event or take a sticky beak around the start-up food business incubator – you may have spotted a rather contagious smile floating through the lofty space. Wandering Cooks director Angela Hirst has many strings to her bow; not only is she a mum and business owner, but also a cook, writer, blogger, researcher, restaurant reviewer and teacher. And yet she still has boundless energy and enthusiasm for what she does – helping the small food businesses of Brisbane get off the ground and thrive. Angela’s passion for food was first ignited when she began cooking her way through kitchens around Brisbane as she tested the waters of an architecture degree at university. She soon left our shores for the delicious promises of London and Paris, later gaining a PhD in food ethics and eating, and eventually returning to Brisbane to set up a multi-kitchen space where budding foodies can turn their business dreams into reality. The Weekend Edition swung by the Wandering Cooks warehouse this week to chat to the director about food ethics, whistling chickens and the local food scene.

What was your motivation for launching Wandering Cooks?
The desire to see and nourish ever-increasing food business diversity and sustainability in Australia.

What new initiatives does the incubator have planned for the rest of the year?
A lending library, in collaboration with Scrumptious Reads, more pop-up restaurants on site – and the rest is a surprise!

Your PhD asked the question why it’s so easy for urban dwellers to avoid responsibility towards the places where our food is produced. What’s the most interesting finding you uncovered in your research?
That avoidance is unavoidable, but can be overcome in parts, day by day, moment by moment, by remaining receptive to the stories behind our food. That guilt and enjoyment are intertwined and inseparable, and so they should remain.

Where do you see Brisbane’s local food scene heading in the future?
I think if we can celebrate its independent producers, embrace its regional products and support collaborations through businesses like Wandering Cooks and Flugente, our talented cooks will still leave to gain inspiration and skills, but they’ll have something to come back to, and we’ll have an amazing food scene!

You’ve also spent a bit of time living and working on an organic farm and cooking school in Ireland. What did you learn from the experience?
How making bread can become part of every morning’s routine, how to make jam by taste and that chickens whistle while they sleep.

How do you juggle being a mum and a business owner?
I don’t know … with a lot of guilt to be honest! I don’t think I’d be very good at being a full-time mum. Being a business owner feels like part of who I am now. I don’t think I’d be very fun to be around without my creativity being directed into something like my business, so perhaps that’s some consolation. It helps that my little boy Oliver loves being at Wandering Cooks. It’s one of the reasons we have so many toys around for other kids to play with. Doing ‘work’ has become part of Oliver’s play – he’s very focused on his projects! And also, he gets a lot of cuddles!

When you’re tired and feeling under pressure, what motivates you to get out of bed and keep achieving great things at Wandering Cooks?
Happy customers, a bit of time spent tending our gardens, a good cup of tea and a bit of time to clear my desk and therefore free my mind up of all the clutter that tends to overwhelm.

What’s your idea of complete happiness?
A cup of tea, a vegetable garden and cooking with people I love.

What’s the last thing that made you smile?
Oliver’s latest obsession with a turtle paperweight that he insists on keeping in his pocket, despite it pulling his pants off!

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Time with my little boy and my partner, time in my garden and a clean house!

What are you reading at the moment?
Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
Wandering Cooks!

What do you hope your legacy will be?
A happy family, a business that inspires people to make better businesses, and many gardens.

How do you define ‘success’?
When my everyday life catches up with my vision of my everyday life!

What are your words of wisdom?
Have a vision to work towards, persist despite the difficulties, learn and adapt constantly, and be kind on yourself when you make mistakes …

Perk up …
on the mud flats at Wellington Point.
Relax … in our backyard on a blanket.
Dine … I work as a food reviewer, so wherever I get paid to go!
Indulge … Chouquette in New Farm, Crust & Co. Artisan Baking in Newmarket, Flour & Chocolate in Morningside or anywhere else that has great pastries.
Shop … Dogstar in Brisbane City.
Catch-up … on a camping trip in the bush somewhere, with friends and kids galore.
Be inspired … at Avid Reader in West End, Folio Books in Brisbane City or Scrumptious Reads in Fortitude Valley, in the cookbook section!

Suggested The Locals Reads

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