The week that was (9 March 2017)

- This week, the Bureau of Stats released some findings around the impact of the lock-out laws. Quelle surprise, they achieved nothing more than pushing the violence from one place to another, leaving behind “…a new sandpit for millionaire property developers.” I liked this opinion piece by Jonathan Seidler: "Implementing urban planning reform, which promotes the diversification of night time activities like fashion boutiques, book shops, cafes and small galleries is one way to achieve this. Ultimately, a safe, successful night-time economy can and should be about so much more than drinking." He's right, this should be about building our culture, not more apartments. When it comes to drinking culture, I’m on the side of the French.
- Once we have the booze sorted, how will we feed the world? It's a conversation on high rotation in my house and it’s a tough one, but I can’t (or won't) think the solution lies with monocultures and factory farming. Instead, I believe it starts and ends with healthy soil, soil that is fed by diversity: diversity of crops, of stomachs (chicken, pigs, cattle), of plant life, and an understanding of the unique terroir of each place. So does the biodynamic movement.
I have the fondest memories of sitting on a verandah at Sutton Grange with my friend Gilles as he explained some of the thinking behind biodynamics. You don’t have him but you could read this for the simple, but important, explanations: “… while organic certification allows for organic feed imported to the farm from anywhere in the world, biodynamic certification requires 50% of livestock feed be grown on the farm. Biodynamic also requires that a farm set aside 10% of the total farm acreage for biodiversity, and strive for a balanced predator/prey relationship.” 
- And thus, I was saddened to read Letho on the Steggles School Meat Bird Pairs Comp, whereby Steggles gave 91 NSW schools half a dozen chooks in a competition to see who could get their chook the fattest in the six week period. Chooks used to take 10 weeks to come to maturity (and only reach half the size). What are we doing?!?

- Incidentally, this month is the chicken issue for Lucky Peach. I love what those guys do and am enjoying the trickling of articles on their site, from what’s in a bouillon cube to a few fun facts on the chook industry(did you know there are three times as many chickens on earth as there are humans?)
- I also loved Ottolenghi talking lemons in the NY Times. I adore the French orangeries - the old glass houses designed to shelter the more exotic fruit from the cold winters - the Orangerie in the Tuileries is my favourite Parisian art gallery. But I did not know about the Italian equivalent, less orange and more lemon, a Limonaias. “The memory of playing in that large empty room with my brother, the smell of citrus still hanging in the air, is as sharp and vivid as a squeeze of lemon itself.” It is a beautiful article.
- As you will all know, it was International Women’s Day yesterday. We all saw a lot of lovely insta pics, and yes, a lot of you have wonderful, strong girlfriends, wives, Mums. So, how disappointing to open the SMH and find their IWD double page spread accompanied by an ad for the World's 50 Best: four international chefs and nary a vagina amongst them. Our industry needs to do better.
- Gemima Cody wrote a great article asking: Isn’t it time we stop asking women chefs about being women chefs?. It is, and her article is definitely worth reading.
The Parabere Forum was held on the weekend. The topic was redefining sustainability, in all its guises. The Australian contingent was strong, including Joanna SavillLauren Eldridge, Julia CampbellJo Barrettand Danielle Gjestland. Apparently Joan Roca was a highlight, talking about the importance of sustainability of people. Danielle very kindly sent me these thoughts:
“It's a problem many professionals face as they have pushed to achieve great heights in their career but want to be present parents when the time comes. Also, the restaurant team often serves as a family of sorts and it can be difficult for staff if they have no option but to leave and take a lesser position in the face of parenthood. 

For the longevity / sustainability of the ever so skilled professionals that serve to influence the culinary world, it was refreshing to see Joan talk about setting an example within his restaurant. It has to be not just environmentally and financially sustainable but also sustainable for the people who work at achieving the aforementioned. I think we often forget to discuss the human element when we talk sustainability.” 
Hear, hear!
- Of course, we should all be feminists. A few random musings for our industry:
(1) If a restaurant is owned by a couple (as many of them are) we should use both names when referencing its owners, not just the (often male) chef?
(2) Likewise, when looking for people to discuss our wonderful industry, let’s look beyond the guy with the pan/penis in his hand: the restaurateur, the maitre d', the somm, the bar tender, the dishwasher.
(3) Check the books. If a woman is doing the same work, at the same level, make sure her pay reflects that. I loved those who offered a discount to women yesterday to reflect the gap in pay. It's outrageous that still exists.
And, so, a personal note. Twice in my career I have been bullied by a male chef after he realised I wasn’t going to jump into bed with him. I’m stubborn, so on both occasions I stayed in the role, and worked through the silent treatment, but it’s bullshit. I would hate to think that’s happening to anyone else. Watch for it, on both sides of the fence. 
Finally, my favourite quote this week - equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It’s not pie.