Lauren Bonkowski | Two Poles Apart

2 minutes with Lauren Bonkowski
Occupation: graphic designer/art director
Business: Two Poles Apart
Lives: Melbourne
Age: 31

When you were studying Communication Design at Uni, did you know that hospitality brands were going to be your niche?
In hindsight, this is probably where I was always going to end up. I distinctly remember sketching out a ridiculous sunken bar for my dream house at 14. And at 17 I started organising wildly overcomplicated “cocktail parties” ignoring the fact that everyone was perfectly content with grapefruit Cruisers at the time. I think my interest in design for hospitality was a subconscious marriage of the way my family expresses love- through food, with my love of art.

Tell us about some of the brands you have worked with?
I’m very lucky that my job allows me to work remotely for clients across Australia. There’s been Pirate Life in SA, Starward Whisky, Maidenii Vermouth, & Melbourne Moonshine here in VIC, Lost Palms Brewery in QLD, Sullivans Cove Distillery & Boekamp Brewery in Tassie, West Winds Gin in WA and a stack of great venues across the country. 

How do you work with hospitality businesses to create their identity?
The biggest part of my job is to help clients break down and vocalise what their often non-visual brain wants. I’ve realised if I skip this part at the beginning, projects take triple the time to finish. When everyone is on the same page aesthetically and thematically I start actually nutting out designs. My job is to create a distinctive visual language that expresses brands’ personalities in an appealing and relevant way.

What's your favourite part of your work?
There are a lot of favourites, but in a very geeky way today I’ve been quite contentedly searching for that perfect font for more hours than I care to admit. One with a character that fits the personality of the brand. Packaging relies on really solid font choices.

You are one-quarter of the Marionette team, can you give us the low down on this fab range of liqueurs?
Consumers are loving Australian Gins and Whiskies, but the liqueur world is still completely dominated by European players. Our aim is to make the most out of Australian produce (which is some of the best in the world) to create local alternatives. We launched with a Dry Cassis (blackcurrants from Richard in Tassie) and an Orange Curacao (thanks to Glenn in Mildura) and we’re gradually picking up steam with 3 more products to come this year. Eternally grateful to the bar community for being so incredibly receptive to and supportive of us. It’s been quite the year! 

Worksmith sounds like the best co-working space ever, what's it all about?
I’ve done the rounds when it comes to co-working spaces and this one is pretty &*#()@ great. At most shared spaces everyone makes attempts to be friendly but when it comes down to it often everyone ends up in their own little stress bubble. At Worksmith I’m surrounded by people in the same world facing the same challenges, and more importantly genuinely celebrating each other's successes. It’s a natural community which is why I think it’s such a great place to be.

See more of Lauren’s work with hospitality brands on Instagram @twopolesapart

Worksmith is a co-working space for the food and beverage industry located on Smith St in Collingwood, check them out on Instagram




Lauren pic.png

Ella Mittas | Ela Melbourne

2 minutes with Ella Mittas
words by Ali Webb
Occupation: chef
Age: 26
Lives: Melbourne

The Greek side of my family all really love food. I’ve been surrounded by it since I was a child. Everyone in my family cooks a lot; we have dinner together once a week with my grandparents, cousins and parents.

I studied Creative Writing and finished my degree doing journalistic work for a range of magazines but I wasn’t writing about anything that I really cared about. I was bored and I have way too much energy to be bored, so my dad suggested I do a cooking course to burn some energy.

That’s when I became obsessed with cooking. I’m a very obsessive person and I am known to put all of my energy into the one thing. When I started cooking, I was consumed by it.

Family and the feeling of generosity is the baseline to my cooking. It creates an atmosphere. My family love watching me cook, helping to create this warm and inviting environment.

My dad was the main cook in my family. In a Greek family it is traditional for the men to do all the barbeque meats and the women to do all the salads and vegetables. But my dad, he has always done all the cooking and he loves it. He really researches his food. Since I was little we have been going to the market every Saturday, looking out for exciting ingredients.

It’s harder to be a chef when you are female. A kitchen is a space I’ve never really felt comfortable in, which is why I work for myself now. It’s a very competitive industry and it can be hard to get a compliment on your cooking. I’m a very sensitive person and I believe that aggression and cooking beautiful food just doesn’t match. Cooking comes from the soul and the best part about it is you get to be really creative.

I have just finished a month-long pop up at Gertrude Street Enoteca, where my cooking career actually started. I worked alongside the renowned Tansy Good and it was all women in the kitchen. We changed dishes everyday which made the work fun and physical and also challenging.

My style is a mixture of old and new school. I cook a lot of traditional Greek food, but it’s not based on technique. All of my food is really easy to cook. I haven’t had a great deal of training, just small stints in kitchens where I have worked a year with someone and then six months with someone else. Not the traditional four years under the same roof as a lot of chefs do.

I was in Istanbul for twelve months and then Israel for six weeks, working in kitchens. I’m very persistent and if there’s a place where I want to work, I simply contact them and if I don’t hear back, I contact them again. I asked Annie Smithers for a job for two years until she finally gave me one! If you are passionate enough and try hard enough, people will have you come and work for them. Kitchens have such a high turnover, there’s always work.

I learnt so much in Istanbul, it was hard but so worth it. In Israel I worked with the owner of Miznon in Telaviv. It was incredibly inspiring. I really admire the work of Annie Smithers, Yotam Ottolenghi – whom I worked with for a short period - and Olia Hercules, who is a food writer and chef.  She studied international relations before becoming a chef and her recipes are so well researched that I admire the way she does her whole job. She cooks but she cares so much about it.

If I were to cook one dish for my closest friends it would be Fava –  yellow split peas with onions, carrots, capers and pickled onions. It’s something I always have on the menu – it’s so simple and tasty! It’s total comfort food.

What’s Next? I’m going to focus on events and collaborations. I’d like to collaborate with an artist or work with foraging. I want to do a few research projects and put on events. I love information and finding out as much as possible about something, anything. I won’t be sitting still, that’s for sure!

You can find out about Ella’s next project on Instagram @ellamittas @ela_melbourne

Our interviewer Ali Webb is a publicist, copywriter, content creator and excellent human, you can find her @houseofwebb


Photo by Lazlo Evenhuis

Photo by Lazlo Evenhuis

Ilana Atlas | Oakridge Wines

Ilana Atlas
Occupation: Director of Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley
Lives: Sydney

Ilana was a guest speaker at our recent event Women of Oakridge. As a corporate lawyer, Ilana has extensive experience in business, holding executive and non-executive positions in a selection of Australia’s most well-known companies. She currently sits on the boards of Coca-Cola Amatil, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westfield Holdings Limited. The following is an excerpt from Ilana's inspiring talk at the event...

We all have war stories and it is fun and therapeutic to share them but what can we do. Here are a few things I have learnt along the way

1.     Celebrate and learn from success. There are incredibly talented women making wine, growing grapes, running wine companies - incredibly talented women chefs, women running brilliant front of house, owning restaurants, incredible women suppliers to restaurants of magnificent produce. Ask them to tell their stories, learn how they did it, how did they manage their kids during vintage, how did they make sure they got paid the same amount as the men and got bonuses when they performed brilliantly, how did they start their restaurant. The constant theme will be bravery, taking calculated risks.

2.     My second thing is to make sure we help each other. To be brave you need a support crew; people you ask and tell, who have shared experiences. The sisterhood is powerful. I have had so many wonderful women in my life, I know how important it is for me to be a wonderful women for others.

3.     And to help be brave you need to be prepared. I look at the prep that our chefs do at Oakridge, or front of house before service - women in food and wine know everything about being prepared. That needs to translate to your career and place in the world. If you want a pay rise you need to put together the reasons and present them so it is obvious. If you want to work more flexibly, you need to build the case and put it so confidently, no-one in their right mind could object. It is all about preparation and planning. That helps make the risks we take more manageable and helps us be more confident.

4.      Enlist the blokes. This is really important. I have spent a lot of the last 40 years talking to other women about equality and opportunity. Surprise, surprise they all agree with me. That feels good, but does not create change. Blokes are 50% of the audience - we need to enlist them to the cause and send them out to convert all the other blokes. They need to be our front line.

5.     Finally and most importantly, whatever it is - enjoy it. If you are not, every minute will be like an hour, every day like a year and you will be crossing the days off your calendar. Love it whatever it is. I listen to Jo Barrett talking about creating a sustainable restaurant, milling her flour, her desert made out of waste and she is rapturous. I wish I had felt that way about the Corporations Law. Passion and joy …. That is what we are after. I thank the women at Oakridge for giving me passion and joy and hope you find a lot of it in the future.