Food blogs' finest

Matthew Raggatt
Susan Hutchinson's zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, one of a range of her favourite meals.
Susan Hutchinson's zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, one of a range of her favourite meals. 

As the latest batch of amateur cooks again dominate our television screens, the number of foodies putting their thoughts online continues to grow. With a range of evocatively named sites - think Chompin' through Canberra or Get Forked - some of the capital's productive food bloggers have more than 5000 followers, with recipes, restaurant reviews and mouth-watering pictures.

Some do it after a busy day at work, others during and after a busy day with baby, but each bring their own tastes, family favourites and writing style to the task.

We asked an eclectic mix of some of the more popular and/or prolific writers about their motivations for starting their blogs, and what they enjoy about the Canberra food scene.

Liz's favourite meal is paprikas csirke with nokedli (chicken paprika with hand made soft noodles, the way her ...
Liz's favourite meal is paprikas csirke with nokedli (chicken paprika with hand made soft noodles, the way her Hungarian-Czech mother taught her). 

Liz Posmyk was the veteran of the bunch, starting her blog three years ago after writing a newspaper cooking column for a decade. She did Canberra proud by winning the narrative section of last year's Best Australian Food Blog writing competition.

Shari Wakefield started her Good Food Week site at age 22, and kept her 1100 followers on Twitter informed and entertained last year with nearly 180 blog posts.

When he's not at work advising on pathology or microbiology, Dr Gary Lum spends his time blogging about his cooking, restaurants, weight loss and travel. And for Susan Hutchinson, who strategises about better ways to manage conflict and disaster overseas, a blog is the chance to share her passion for directly sourced ingredients and home meals.

Lum said his favourite meal was his mother's congee and wonton soup, comfort foods which reminded him of his childhood ...
Lum said his favourite meal was his mother's congee and wonton soup, comfort foods which reminded him of his childhood and Chinese heritage. 

The food bloogers

Shari Wakefield

Age: 28

Blog: goodfoodweek.blogspot.com.au

Where do you live, and how long have you lived in Canberra? I currently reside in Evatt with my young family. I am originally from Sydney, but moved to Canberra to study at UC 10 years ago, met my husband, fell in love and have lived here ever since.

Shari Wakefield, pictured with her husband and son, began her food blog before <i> MasterChef</i> started the Australian ...
Shari Wakefield, pictured with her husband and son, began her food blog before MasterChef started the Australian amateur cook TV craze. 

Occupation: At present, I am on maternity leave from a communications role with the Department of Health. Blogging while on maternity leave is awesome because it allows me to speak to people who are often going through similar life situations (i.e. motherhood).

When did you start your blog? GoodFoodWeek started in 2008 as a way of sharing recipes with uni friends and family who were spread near and far. It has evolved over the years to contain my ramblings as I've searched for a house, planned the perfect vegie patch, stumbled through farmers' markets and gathered family and friends around a shared table. GoodFoodWeek now covers four main topics: recipes, gardening, motherhood and life.

We all eat, most cook, but what inspired you to write about your cooking? I love sharing. Maybe some might say that I am an over-sharer, but I am OK with that. I wrote predominantly about food in the beginning because friends and family wanted me to share my recipes. Now I love to share what I am cooking, how I can get a meal on the table quickly with a baby, with minimal washing up, and how meals can help mothers who are baby-led weaning.

Freshly-made duck salad is one of Shari Wakefield's favourite meals.
Freshly-made duck salad is one of Shari Wakefield's favourite meals. 

Do you have a preferred food style or philosophy? My philosophy would probably be minimal washing up because I hate washing up. I am a big fan of a fresh, quick and healthy meal that can be cooked in one pot.

All-time favourite meal: It would have to be a Christmas lunch prepared by my mum. She makes the most amazing salmon mousse with melba toast and fresh prawns for a starter. She would follow that with Christmas ham served with duck-fat potatoes and all the trimmings for our main course. And my nan's Christmas pudding with double cream for dessert. (She is 80 this year and still holding on to the secret recipe.)

Favourite Canberra restaurant: Too hard to limit it to one. I wrote a whole post on it a while ago, breaking down my favourite Canberra restaurants into categories.

Susan Hutchinson with a piglet at the Boxgum Grazing Open Day, where she did a bacon making demonstration.
Susan Hutchinson with a piglet at the Boxgum Grazing Open Day, where she did a bacon making demonstration. 

MasterChef or My Kitchen Rules? My Kitchen Rules, although I was in the top 100 for MasterChef.

What do you love about the Canberra food scene? I love the markets and our ability to get our hands on the most amazing produce so easily. I also love the friendliness of it all. We definitely don't harbour any bitchy foodies like those from WA on MKR.

Susan Hutchinson

Age: 29

Liz Posmyk, who won the narrative category at last year's Best Australian Food Blog writing competition.
Liz Posmyk, who won the narrative category at last year's Best Australian Food Blog writing competition. 

Blog: susansumptuousuppers.wordpress.com

Where do you live, and how long have you been in Canberra? I've lived in Lyneham since moving to Canberra in 2009.

Occupation: I'm an aid and development professional working in conflict and development. Most recently I was the NGO adviser at the Australian Civil-Military Centre. I intend to begin my PhD at ANU this year. I will be writing about women, peace and security.

Gary Lum, who uses his blog to share his experiences with food, weight loss and travel.
Gary Lum, who uses his blog to share his experiences with food, weight loss and travel. 

When did you start your blog? 2011.

We all eat, most cook, but what inspired you to write about your cooking? I have loved cooking for a long time. My mother was a terrible cook, so I learnt early to compensate. Since then, I have become engrossed by heartfelt producers, good and unusual produce, and cooking. One day one of my friends said she was sick of me posting on Facebook about my culinary creations. She said I should just write a book. That seemed intense, but I decided to start the blog and see where that took me.

Do you have a preferred food style or philosophy? I like my food pure and ethical. I prefer to treat good ingredients simply to let produce shine for itself. I love some of the old-fashioned techniques. I even make my own bacon. For me, ethical means buying as local as I can get. I buy only free-range chicken, pork and eggs and try to use as many cuts from an animal as I can.

All-time favourite meal (multiple courses are allowed): Wow. That is a tough question. It would depend on where in the world I was and what the season was. Special-occasion meals can be almost anything in my book. However, the cow intestine soup I was given for my birthday dinner in a village in Uganda was not a favourite.

Favourite Canberra restaurant: Sage. I love everything about the place, from the decor to the service. The food is amazing and imaginative and, of course, its ideology suits me perfectly. I won't go out somewhere if I could have made the food myself.

MasterChef or My Kitchen Rules? That's a tough question. I like the concept of My Kitchen Rules, but because I like to cook alone, I would probably have to say MasterChef. I also learn more from MasterChef and all its guest chefs.

What do you love about the Canberra food scene? The Capital Region Farmers Market. I would go so far as to say this is my favourite thing about Canberra. I think the Rotary Club of Hall and the market manager do a fantastic job selecting the stalls, so we can have an amazing array of local produce. There's great diversity and quality.

Liz Posmyk

Age: 55

Blog: bizzylizzysgoodthings.com

Where do you live, and how long have you lived in Canberra? I was born in Canberra. From 1958 to '61, my family lived in the Buggy Shed at the rear of The Constable's Cottage at Lennox Crossing in Acton. I now live in Harrison.

Occupation: Full-time food writer recently retired from the federal Industry Department, where I was awarded an Australia Day Achievement Medallion for leadership, innovation and service. My days are now spent cooking to my heart's content, and honing my writing and digital photography skills.

When did you start your blog? 2011. Before that, I wrote a cookery column from 1993 to 2002.

We all eat, most cook, but what inspired you to write about your cooking? A love of cooking and sharing good food and recipes, combined with a natural flair for writing.

Do you have a preferred food style or philosophy? Recipes for all seasons with a focus on fresh produce.

All-time favourite meal (multiple courses are allowed): In terms of soup, pho ga (chicken pho) or my mother's simple veal shank and vegetable broth, if I'm under the weather. Paprikas csirke with nokedli (chicken paprika with hand-made soft noodles, the way my mother taught me). I would find it difficult to name a favourite dessert. However, I love exotic-flavoured ice-cream.

Favourite Canberra restaurant: No favourite as such, but I really like discovering suburban gems such as Saffron Room at Yerrabi Pond, and Morks, which was tucked away at Florey Shops until recently.

MasterChef or My Kitchen Rules? Series 1 and 2 of MasterChef Australia.

What do you love about the Canberra food scene? The availability of fresh produce from the Capital Region and Southside Farmers Markets, Fyshwick and Belconnen Markets, and Choku Bai Jo.

Gary Lum

Age: 49

Blog: yummylummy.com

Where do you live, and how long have you lived in Canberra? Belconnen. Lived in Canberra since October 2007, previously Darwin (12 years) and Brisbane (30 years).

Occupation: I'm a medical practitioner. My speciality is pathology/clinical microbiology. I work as an adviser in the Australian Government Department of Health and as an honorary visiting medical officer in ACT Pathology at the Canberra Hospital.

When did you start your blog? 2010, shortly after I started exploring social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Blogging seemed like a natural extension of my social media interests.

We all eat, most cook, but what inspired you to write about your cooking?: I'm a show off at heart. Being a fifth-generation Australian-born Chinese man, food has been a central part of my life. I also used to be obese (100 kilograms and only 1.7 metres tall, I'm currently 77 kilograms). If I've been somewhere good I want to tell people about it. If I've made something I like I want to share it. My blog is a hobby. It keeps me amused. It makes me happy.

Do you have a preferred food style or philosophy? Not really. I like to use fresh ingredients if they're available. I'll eat just about anything including locusts, snails, frogs and almost any kind of offal. I'm very fond of Asian cuisines and anything that has a large chunk of protein (aka meat) plus some vegetables. I'm a big fan of slowly cooking meat.

All-time favourite meal (multiple courses are allowed): My mother's congee and wonton soup. These are comfort foods and remind me of my childhood and where I came from. Congee or jook is peasant food. On cold nights congee made with chicken makes me very happy. Mum's wonton soup is communal food. We all get together and help prepare and cook it. My father is the master wonton cooker.

Favourite Canberra restaurant: I love Morks on the new Kingston Foreshore, plus Sage.

MasterChef or My Kitchen Rules? If they're both on at the same time I'll watch MasterChef. I enjoy both.

What do you love about the Canberra food scene? It's diverse, vibrant, changing, seasonal and there is just so much of it. Depending on finances it would be easy to eat out well once a week. Canberra also has lots of tweeps and bloggers who write about food. It's a great place to eat.

>>Matthew Raggatt is a staff reporter.