2 minutes with Rebecca Sullivan
Occupation: social entrepreneur, author, teacher and sustainable food advocate
Company: Warndu and Granny Skills
Tell us about yourself, how do you describe what you do?
The million dollar question. Ask my partner of 3 and a half years he still does not know (laughing). I am a social entrepreneur, Author, Teacher and Sustainable Food Advocate. I basically, for want of a better word, curate all things food and sustainability.
If there was one granny skill that you could teach all Australians, what would it be?
How to use their leftovers and not waste so much perfectly good food.
Native Australian seems to be a buzz word these days, how does Warndu have a point of difference in supporting the legacy of Aboriginal culture?
It sure is but our goal is to collaboratively grow the industry sustainably, not for it to just be a trend as it has been in three separate time periods in the past 40 years. Our difference, well I guess Damien (my partner) Is Aboriginal so we have a great opportunity to be doing things culturally the right way. Also, it took me working in sustainable food for ten years championing local and seasonal food to realise I was as food racist as the next person. It does not get any more local than Australian Natives, so I am on a mission...
The Cook and The Farmer is the current book you are writing and shooting with our fav photographer Patricia Niven, what's the story behind this book?
Well I grew up in rural SA and sadly was privy to a lot of struggle with friends parents who were farmers. Over the past decade farmers and producers have not only been my career but also my life work and passion. I have met hundreds and hundreds of farmers’ world over and almost every one of them has had/has depression or knows someone who has or even worse knows someone who took their life. Rural communities need our support more than ever and farmers are not great at talking - men (which they typically are) of a certain age grew up in the ‘she’ll be right’ Aussie battler era. I wanted to tell the non air-brushed Coles version of the farmers’ story, the real one. The book is a beautiful story, amazing portraits and images (by beautiful Patsy) from farmers, then a recipe by me using their produce. Its farmers the width and breadth of the country big and small but all of them have a wonderful story and focus on sustainability and next generation.
I am also writing my next book on from Like Grandma Used to Make – it’s called The Art of the Natural Home with Kyle Books in the UK - comes out May 2017. It is the entire home natural cleaners, skin care all of the things homemade.
Your work across different projects all heroes heritage, sustainable thinking and ethical eating. What was the lightbulb moment for you that made you work only on projects with social impact?
Realising how much I had offended an entire table of Italians (in my past life working in sport) at a dinner to celebrate the win our cycling team had (I was a press officer for a Pro-team). Said Italians threw this impromptu feast they only way they knew how, local, seasonal magical food. Ten courses in, the cheese came out and it was called Cazu Mazu. It had live maggots in it. Naive, 23 year old me in my loud Aussie voice yells “ew how bloody gross I am not eating that”. In an instant I had offended 20 plus people whose entire culture, tradition and heritage was based on moments like eating this cheese. It was outrageously delicious and I just knew that I had to work in food and it had to be the ethical kind with some tradition. I joined Slow Food the next week.
Do you have any tips for wannabe entrepreneurs?
Failure is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it is encouraged. Every failure is the greatest learning and I can almost guarantee will bring you your next great idea…..Once you embrace the fear of potential failure, you will be unstoppable.
You can follow Bec on Instagram @grannyskills and @warndu