Funny how you get edited. Once I was the writer, now I’m occasionally quoted. In a lovely recent article that appeared in Fairfax Media, on what’s in my pantry, there was a bit on who has inspired me. A couple of people I included were taken off the list by the paper. I guess my list was too long and they were too local to count, but in most people’s lives, it’s not the Gandhis and Churchills that make a difference on a personal level, it’s those we see and come into contact with during the course of our days.
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4 Jul 2013 - 11:35 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Here are just a few of my local heroes, starting with those edited out of the piece.

Terry O’Neill, the neighbour whose market garden I pass every day, who inspires quietly through his knowledge and humility. If my garden is one day 1/8th as good as his, I’ll be happy.

Elsie Clark, a local grandma who has hand milked three cows every morning for decades, most of the time without them kicking over the bucket.

Ben Victor, at our local butcher, because he weaves magic, curing and smoking our pork in a way that I find irresistible. Good smoking is an art in the same way that firing pottery is an art.

The appropriately named Jo Cook, who has given selflessly of her time not only to kitchen gardens, but also to feed the firies on the front line of this year’s bushfires. She’s not too shabby in a commercial kitchen, either.

Philip Evans, no relation, chook breeder extraordinaire.

Dirk Meure, a man whose ambition it was in life was to never to grow a thing, so he went off and became a lawyer. Now he’s back where he grew up in Tassie, very happy improving the flavour of his grapes through biodynamic principles. The results are apparent in his wine.

Guy Robertson and Eliza Wood from Mt Gnomon, because they’ve embraced old breeds and the paddock-to-plate mentality with such gusto and with such great results in what seems like a ridiculously short period of time.

Paulette Whitney, for championing the flavour of indigenous plants, and encouraging others to grow them themselves.

I get inspired by plenty of people all the time. Gabriel from Olli Bella and his amazing Mexican fare. Sue Plant who can garden and cook far better than me. Ross O’Meara, former business partner and simply great cook and friend. Local orchardists, designers, winemakers and farmers. People that you can look up to exist all around if you know what you’re looking for. Just don’t expect to find a Mother Teresa or a Nelson Mandela living next door.