The ability to feel connected to a wider community is a marker of wellbeing; eating together is a simple and time-tested way that we can enjoy company, explore relationships and build resilience … not to mention consume good food!
The pandemic may have changed our eating-together patterns, sometimes for the better – many of us may have enriched our family dining rituals during lockdowns; yet others may have been dining alone, contributing to feelings of isolation. One major difference experienced in the last two years was the curtailing of our ability to eat out – to extend ourselves over food into communities beyond our household, whether these groups of people were based in friendship, family, work or somewhere-in-between.
Not only is the re-opening of our wonderful food industries a huge relief to many, restaurateurs and diners alike – but it’s also an opportunity to be grateful for the joys of being out and about once more – experiencing new and trusty dishes, re-uniting with our favourite chefs and waiters, having a break from home walls and cooking, the list goes on.
One new thing to observe and delight in, are the changes that have come to our menus! There is a ‘new normal’ emerging and it has more mindful consumption front and centre – healthier eating, sustainable produce and practices, more weaving in of local communities and a celebration of local, Indigenous and organic ingredients. While we have grown to admire certain chefs embracing these ‘slow food’ practices, there are many others starting to make changes towards more mindful practices in their menus.
While we continue to celebrate over food, being back in our wider communities – we can notice the little differences here and there in the menus and practices of the places we frequent. In the meantime, here are a few sustainable practice forerunners to be inspired by and keep your eye on, to name just a few – Claire van Vuuren with her new Bloodwood (Newtown, NSW), Guy Jeffreys of the Fogarty Wine Group in WA, Ben Shewry of Attica (Ripponlea, Vic), Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan working in NSW, Brigitte Hafner at Tedesca Osteria (Mornington Peninsula, Vic).
What changes have your local favourites been making?