For those who haven't heard of Dark MOFO, what's it all about?
It’s a festival to celebrate music, art and food and the long dark nights of winter. In Tassie people often leave the island to escape winter and often get cabin fever after so many cosy nights by the fire. We’re revelling in it now. People dress up in their coats, hats, gloves and scarves and embrace the cold weather. It feels good to be outside right in it.
What's involved in your role as food curator?
My role has evolved over four years from being the ‘local’ food curator which was working with all the Tasmanian food and drink producers to being the overall food curator which from last year included the national chefs. I work with people around the themes of fire and winter produce and together we aim to create new and delicious food that people will want to travel to our island for.
Did you train as a chef?
I did! I started an apprenticeship when I was twenty with Megan Broadfield-Brown at Ravesi’s Bondi Beach. Twenty-five years later I’m still friends with three of the amazing women chefs from that time. They’re all still doing inspiring things with food.
When you are not curating you are fermenting, is that right?
Yes! I have mastered making a really fresh tasting kefir (after making lots of mistakes) and I always have kombucha and fermented vegies on the go. I have two large jars of ‘champagne tomatoes’ in my fridge, a recipe from Olia Hercules made with five varieties of tomatoes from my garden, fermented in brine and then stored for months. I’m looking forward to sharing these with some friends and fatty roast pork!
I recently curated all the food and drink across a new festival The Unconformity in Queenstown, a remote mining town on the West Coast of Tasmania. That was an exciting challenge and we delivered some beautiful food.
Another hat you wear is convivium leader of Slow Food Hobart, tell us about the chef scholarship program that you facilitate?
Along with the rest of Australia we have a shortage of great chefs in Tassie. Slow Food Hobart created a scholarship to send a young chef to Italy to attend Terre Madre and we facilitate relationships with producers and restaurants so they can learn as much as possible from inspiring people and bring their learnings back to Tassie. The long-term goal is to build relationships and experiences in our industry and improve the quality of food delivered in our restaurants and cafes.
24 hours in Hobart, where do we eat?
Tricycle Cafe for brekky and lunch, Templo, Aloft, Rin, Sweet Envy for Hobart’s best ice cream, Plus Three Japanese, Pigeon Whole Bakery, Hamlet Café.
Port Cygnet Diner & Fat Pig Farm (they’re in Cygnet but that’s only a 45 min drive) and if you’re heading North Hubert & Dan in Longford and Timbre (in a suburb just out of Launceston on the West Tamar).
You can follow Jo on Instagram @jocookfood