A Taste of Hamony and an Interview with Anna Gare

When I heard about A Taste of Harmony, I jumped at the chance at organising International Food Day at work.

After a very busy work week we all gathered around the Boardroom table and enjoyed some of the tastiest food from all over the world. We all walked away with full stomachs and an appreciation for the diversity that exist in our workplace. This will certainly be a tradition at work, for many years to come.

Here are some food highlights.

Liisa's version of Voileipakakku (Savoury Cake made with bread, sour cream cream cheese and smoked salmon). This was an eye catching dish.

Macri's Pasta Forno. This was Cathrine's first time making this dish. I must say she did an excellent job. It was full of hearty meatballs in a rich and cheesy tomato based sauce.

Mama Goh's Malaysian Chicken Curry. It was the first time I tasted a Malaysian version of a chicken curry. It was absolutely delicious.

Susan Lee's Beef Rendang was amazing. Big spicy chunks of beef with a rich gravy. It was like an explosion in your mouth.

Mama Calvisi's Italian Style Meatballs. All 60 of them. This was a hearty moist meatball in a tomato sauce.

KC's Chicken Enchiladas. Mexican food is great. This was really tasty. It was full of chicken pieces covered in a layer gooey melted cheese.

Anna Gare is part of the trio behind the Lifestyle Food Channels “The Best in Australia. She is one of Australia best female chefs. She is also one of the Ambassadors for A Taste of Harmony. She answers a few of my questions regarding A Taste of Harmony and growing up in a country rich in cultural diversity.

Photo courtesy of F22 Photography

1. When did you discover your passion for cooking?
We lived in an old church that was being renovated by Dad (slowly), so for years we had a temporary kitchen. From a young age I was allowed to cook and make a mess in it.
For my 11th birthday all I wanted was a proper kitchen, so Dad finished it and I prepared a dinner party for 11 guests - steak, coleslaw and potatoes!

2. How has Australia’s cultural diversity influenced your cooking style?
My parents were both born in Australia but come from a diverse cultural mix, as do most Australians! My background is Welsh, Irish, English, German and Jewish. However I grew up in Fremantle, which had a predominantly Italian, Croatian and Portuguese population.
At school, the Italian and Croatian kids always had yummy lunches, My mother, being very busy with lots of kids and working, always made Vegemite and mint sangas! I even wrote a poem about it.

Getting to the other side of Australia a bit later in life was a real eye opener for me. It was so exciting to see all the Greek, Italian and Vietnamese food shops, restaurants and deli's. My passion for combining world flavours had begun!

As an adult, I have enjoyed travelling through smaller regions where the people have stayed with their traditions, both culinary and cultural. Travelling through Italy, I was so blown away by the food and people. We could all learn a lot from some of the smaller regional areas were the people have honest and simple approaches to growing and eating food.

3. A Taste of Harmony is all about bringing people together, in your opinion what will be the perfect dish to do this?
Everyone could bring a dish from their grandmother's recipe book. Or why not challenge yourself and try a fusion dish - or as I call it a 'confusion' dish - Pork Rendang? Oriental risotto, Asian coleslaw, Thai beef carpaccio... There are no limits, only your imagination!

4. Some people shy away from trying food from different cultures? What advice would you give to encourage them to try it?

Food can be the first step in appreciating what other cultures have to offer. Sharing food, swapping recipes, learning different preparation techniques is a wonderful insight into other cultures.

5. As a mum, how do you make sure that your kids are aware of Australia’s Cultural abundance?
Food has always been my passion, and I am grateful to live in a multicultural society where we can constantly broaden our cultural knowledge through food. As a young girl I remember admiring the local Italians and how their passion for food was in the preparation - for them food was not a chore, it was more of a ritual. We grew up eating simple good food, and I want to continue that.

6. Why do you think it’s important to get workplaces involved with A Taste Of Harmony?

It's a good excuse for a nosh-up and to share food by the people who know it the best! Besides, everyone loves eating! It shows appreciation for our culinary heritage and that of other people and places.

7. Do you have any advice on hosting a successful ATOH Lunch?

Visit the A Taste of Harmony website, http://www.tasteofharmony.org.au/ to get suggestions of how people celebrated last year, look at their event photos, and share delicious recipes!

Make sure to check out the Taste of Harmony website for delicious recipe ideas and suggestions on how you can have your own International Day at work.

FFichiban (March 25, 2010)  

Oohh what a great diversity of foods and wow first time I've heard of a Voileipakakku! Looks very interesting!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) (March 25, 2010)  

What a fabulous idea. I fondly remember International Food Days at school - we need to continue these at work! Great interview and I love the savoury cake! I'd love a slice of that :)

Tangled Noodle (March 25, 2010)  

It's always exciting to meet such people who've turned a personal passion into a successful profession - lots to learn from them! Way to go organizing your workplace's international day. These dishes all look fantastic, especially the first dish. 8-)

Karen @ Citrus and Candy (March 26, 2010)  

Anything to do with learning the culture and diversity of food is always a good thing. That is one heck of a spread! :)

Fiona (March 26, 2010)  

The first dish is SO Women's Weekly from 1982

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) (March 26, 2010)  

OMG!! I love Anna Gare. Love her style, graciousness and of course her cooking on THE BEST! Shouldn't have read this post at 8am, I want dinner now. lol!

mademoiselle délicieuse (March 26, 2010)  

Cool stuff, Kath! Great to see your lovely workmates getting into the spirit of the idea.

Shannon –  (March 26, 2010)  

Nice! Well done KC on the enchiladas!

Rob –  (March 26, 2010)  

Good Work KC! Wes Quick loves them too!

Krissy @ The Food Addicts (March 26, 2010)  

what a great tradition you just started at work! that's such a wonderful idea and in the end, you get satisfied stomachs and happy coworkers!

Trissa (March 26, 2010)  

Aww Kath - you did such a fantastic job with the taste of harmony - the spread of food looks absolutely amazing. I think the way to harmony is really through food! Great job on your Anna Gare interview! Her great personality really shines through. Love the interview questions!

Amy @ cookbookmaniac (March 26, 2010)  

I am dangerously curious about the Voileipakakku... a savoury cake? I love things that I don't understand, please hand me a big chunky slice. Please also scoop a generous serving of the beef rendang for me too. Thanks!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella (March 27, 2010)  

I do love these sorts of events, food really bring people together. I had dinner tonight with a Turkish chocolatier and she couldn't believe that I loved and had made kazandibi but that's the whole thing, it's so easy to get these things in Sydney! :)

Conor @ HoldtheBeef (March 27, 2010)  

What a spread! I wanna come work at your place :)

The Voileipakakku looks and sounds very similar to the Swedish Smörgåstårta. Judging from the name Voileipakakku, I would guess it is a Finnish version of the same thing??

Also, yay for Anna Gare.

Sophie (March 27, 2010)  

All of these dishes look quite wonderful!!!


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