Thomasina Miers | Wahaca

2 minutes with Thomasina Miers
Occupation: Food writer, Author, Restaurateur, Sustainability Warrior, Mother
Restaurants: Wahaca Group
Age: 40
Lives: London, UK

www.wahaca.co.uk

Co-founder of the Wahaca group of restaurants across England, Tommi is making a huge impact with her vibrant Mexican food and sustainable ethos. Juggling 20+ restaurants would be challenging enough but she also writes for The Guardian, does the odd TV spot and loves nothing more than hanging with her three gorgeous girls and husband Mark in their veggie garden. 

When did you discover your passion for food? 
Very early on.  Toys left me cold but pans and sauces really fired me up.   I would sit up on a stool next to my mother and learn as much as I could about what she was doing.

How did you come up with the idea for Wahaca? 
I went to Mexico on my gap year expecting I don’t know what, only to discover this wonderful country full of the most exciting, delicious regional food. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about it, about the biodiversity, the wealthy of amazing ingredients, and the sheer flavours.

What's a normal day in the life of Tommi?  
I wake up at about 6am and normally do a bit of writing and emails before the girls wake up at 7am.  I then shower and get them dressed and we all have breakfast together.  I take them to school then scoot off to Wahaca for meetings or menu development.  I work from home two days a week when I write my column in the Guardian or work on other projects, like the Open Air Classroom Project, a charitable project involving building a large garden classroom in my local primary school.  I normally lunch at one of my restaurants, trying to keep an eye on our food standards and in the evenings I will either be out trying a new restaurant with friends or in, testing new recipes for my latest book.

You have 3 kids, how do you engage them with food and your sustainable ethics? 
Having a third was real dilemma for us in terms of the world population!  In the end it happened all by itself.  But we grow our own vegetables in our small backyard garden, we shop at the local market for food and we spend quite a lot of time in the outdoors.  We eat a lot of vegetables and treat meat and fish as treats for the weekends. I don’t browbeat them – they are too young – I guess I hope they will pick up a love for food, ingredients and the planet intravenously through the way we live our lives.

What do you do as a family on your days off? 
We do a lot of hanging out, being quite spontaneous with what we are doing – we might suddenly decide to go and see an exhibition, or go swimming, or for a bicycle ride.  We might go away to the countryside for the weekend, invite some friends round for lunch or go to Hampstead Heath.  My husband and I both work quite hard so we try not to book our weekends up too heavily – it is good to have some space and free time to let life just flow…

You can follow Thomasina on Instagram @thomasinamiers

 

 

 

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Rebecca Sullivan | Warndu

2 minutes with Rebecca Sullivan
Occupation: social entrepreneur, author, teacher and sustainable food advocate
Company: Warndu and Granny Skills
Lives: Adelaide
Age: 35

www.warndu.com

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

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