“My history with food started as a child watching my mother. For her cooking was a chore, and she didn’t like it that much. When she did entertain, it was a monumental kerfuffle! It was like the world was coming to an end. She had to cook, and the house had to be cleaned, dad had to do his jobs and we all had jobs! It was horrible, and yet it is now my job and I really love my job and I like to cook.”
Edwena learnt to enjoy cooking when she lived in Queensland at a place call Mungindi and jillarooed for a year. The people that she stayed with enjoyed cooking and they cooked many different things. All of a sudden vegetables were not something that you had to eat, they were really tasty. They also grew a lot of their own vegetables.
Edwena met her now husband, Mitch, in the early 80’s and they were married in 1985 – this is when she really started to cook. “I soon learnt that dinner parties were not the monumental production that they were for Mum and Dad. I found it was easy and it was fun!”
As they lived in the country, socialising happened at people’s farms. The drink driving rules did seem to change all of this. “We now look back on the drink driving rule changes and think, my god, how are we all alive?!”
When her children were growing up, for the night time meal the television went off and everyone sat at the table and talked together. “This is the time where you find out how your children are actually doing, it’s important as a family to do this.”
What appealed to Edwena about getting involved with Orange F.O.O.D Week were the connections with people and produce. She has been involved with Orange F.O.O.D Week since the beginning in 1991, and in fact she ran the first café at the original F.O.O.D Affair produce market.
“At the time 25 years ago, there was no such thing as espresso coffee, and as such there were no local roasters,” Edwena recalls. “For many years we had all of this wonderful produce but nobody really showcasing it. Then in 1997, Michael Manners opened Selkirks restaurant and a few years later we had Lolli Redini, which is a now a hatted restaurant. Since then we’ve had many dining venues open that are using and showcasing local produce.”
According to Edwena, Orange F.O.O.D Week in April is held at the best time of year in the region when it comes for the variety of produce.
“People think that Spring time is the best time for local produce but in fact it is the worst, you’re waiting for the new produce to come through but there is actually very little available.”