Weekend Reading: At The Table

Main image by Jessie Prince

While in the depths of a slow & steady weekend, we look to the linen laden tables of our recent EAT contributors to whet our appetites. For many of us, seasonal holidays are about feasting - but for these unsung heroes food is their everyday vernacular; feeding the masses through their restaurant doors and home recipes. As you wipe away those last few crumbs or polish off that last Easter egg, we invite you to devour these stories, perfectly penned by food writer Harriet Davidson and make room for just a morsel more...

Stephannie lays the table with IN BED 100% Linen Table Cloth in Natural & 100% Linen Napkin Set in White

Stephannie Liu, Julie Restaurant

Chef Stephannie Liu has just returned to Australia – lucky us. A chef whose way with food has been built, layer by layer, over her past decade living across the seas, cooking in New York, Paris and most-recently, Copenhagen. From cooking through defined seasons, developing an appreciation and respect for the restrictions and celebrations of produce; to the people Stephannie has cooked alongside and admired; to her infatuation with the industry as a whole; each layer has been built upon the foundation that a childhood with a full and busy family table gave her, but as you’ll read, over the years, a life in food for Stephannie has become about more than feeding people beautiful plates. 

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IN BED 100% Linen Napkin Set in Natural drape over the chairs at Bistro Livi

Nikky and Danni Wilson & Ewen Crawford, Bistro Livi

Opening Bistro Livi felt like a natural progression for the three behind this neighbourhood bistro. Co-owners and sisters, Nikky and Danni Wilson, and head chef Ewen Crawford, grew up with families who adored food, and perhaps for each of them, this is what sparked a life in food, but also the understanding that food is about something deeper than the plate that’s put down in front of you. Of course there’s great thought, skill and joy behind the plates being served and the glasses being poured at Livi, but for this trio, when it came time to open their own space, it was about something greater than the food and drink; it was about creating an environment where staff felt nurtured and customers felt welcomed; it was about building relationships with producers and growers in their Northern Rivers region; it was about creating a way of life in food that was sustainable for them and their staff. Two years into it and they’ve built something rather special. 

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Elizabeth Hewson, Saturday Night Pasta

Food is a very intimate thing, this is no secret, but perhaps it gives reason as to why the paths of people working in food vary so greatly. These paths are inherently unique to each person – to the role food has played in their lives, to what drives, what excites, what scares, to what sparks pleasure and brings comfort, and even what causes discomfort. 

Elizabeth Hewson’s story – or Lizzie, as many of us know her – is one that has unfolded so organically, so uniquely to her, that you couldn’t replicate it if you tried. Cookbook author, recipe writer, founder of Saturday Night Pasta and head of Creative at Sydney’s family-owned hospitality group Fink, Lizzie’s story is one that has been driven by her curiosities, her love to eat, a desire and a joy for telling stories and at times, her need to soothe anxieties. And perhaps this is how she’s built such a strong community – there’s heart behind everything she does. 

We got to sit down with her and hear about the journey, from a (very) early affinity for dinner parties, to university in northern Italy, to building a community grown from her love for food and feeding in her now home-city of Sydney.

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Dan's Ceci e tria sits alongside IN BED 100% Linen Napkin Set in Natural

Dan Johnston, Fontana

Perfectly simple, simply perfect. That’s Dan Johnston’s food. But simple isn’t quite the word I’d use to describe how Dan has come to be the chef he is today, running the kitchen of the restaurant he co-owns with partner and front-of-house wizard, Ivey Wawn. From places and people to pages and potagers, there are many layers that Dan’s approach to food and cooking is built on. 

It’s likely that if you’ve dined in Sydney, you’ve eaten plates cooked by Dan and sipped on glasses poured by Ivey. And lucky you if that’s the case. This welcoming, warm and talented couple of wonderful taste opened Fontana last year. “We wanted to open a great restaurant and do it with good people that we respected, and that treat each other well,” says Dan. The way this duo run their restaurant, with such ease and grace, while making it look like a whole lot of fun, you know there’s a great deal of passion and professionalism behind every pour and every plate. 

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