IMG_1666Food is the new black – By Zara Wong Vogue Issue 09 September 2013 [Photographs by Casey Trebilcock]

From catwalk to cakewalk, there’s a TREND you can sink your teeth into – amazing and affordable food experiences, from baked goods to designer chocolate and gourmet dinners – Zara Wong

Call it a slow simmer, if you will, but fashions fixation with food runs far deeper than alliterative appeal.  They feed off each other: think Dolce & Gabbana’s feature print of last seasons (The ingredients of a vegetable soup strewn as liberally as the traditional floral print) or of American supermodel Karelia Koss choosing to embolden her name not through a fashion line but with cookies made in a collaborating with Momofuku Milk Bar owner and chef Christina Tosi. Before one makes snide remarks of the weary stereotype of fashion people not eating, they certainly do. Jean Touitou of A.P.C and Azzedine Alaia are renowned for their prowess in the kitchen, and fashion weeks are as much about the hottest places to eat as they are about the shows themselves. It is interestingly apparent that far from a brief flirtation, this is a relationship of lasting romance rooted in history and passion.

One of the most interesting aspects is how food and fashion influence and percolate through society in similar ways. Think of fashions recent predilection for using neoprene and scuba materials as analogous to the food industry’s obsession with nitrogen – it’s all about the latest fashion and food technology, respectively.  Lee Tran Lam, who writes one of Australia’s popular food blogs, The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry, compares the influence of trends in the food industry as similar to those of the catwalk; the worldwide effect of cronuts is not unlike Balenciaga’s ruffles filtering down to the high street. “Food, like fashion, is driven by trends, seasonality and the occasional gust of hype”, say Lam. When Dominque Ansel’s bakery in New York opens each morning there is already a line of customers ready to snap up %5 cronuts, spurring on copycats and a black market of cronuts where they can cost as much as $40 each. “It’s led to worldwide interpretation”, says Lam. “In Australia now, there’s Adriana Zumbos zonut.” And if the macaron trend is anything to go by (it enjoyed a flurry of popularity that peaked with the launch of Laduree, before McDonalds’ started making them), by the time this story goes to print cronuts may soon be coming to a fast food outlet near you.

“When you are obsessed and intrigued by beauty and craftsmanship in fashion, I think it’s a natural extension to be obsessed with amazing food”, says Caroline Issa, executive fashion director of Tank magazine. Elettra Wiedemann compares the allure of a handcrafted Birkin bag with that of a locally sourced, organically grown tomato. “Both tell a story, were a labour of love and connect the consumer to an artisan and tradition,” says Wiedemann. “That’s what has gripped the imagination of many people in fashion”. As a model and activist with a focus on food, health and sustainability, Wiedemann has become something of a poster-woman for a modern approach to fashion and food. The daughter of Isabella Rossellini, she is ensconced in the world of fashion (her friend, designer Giambattista Valli, played matchmaker by introducing Wiedemann to her now husband) and he also hosts UV Vogue’s Elettra’s Goodness, a show on YouTube where she cooks with guests such as Grace Coddington and Blake Lively (who herself is at ease talking about her love for Christian Louboutin heels as her new La Cornue Kitchen). YouTube, in fact, has become a platform for models looking to exert their flair for food; there is also Jourdan Dunn, who cooks family favourites and enlists fellow model Cara Delevingne as an occasional sous chef.

IMG_1662There is a level of luxury and diligence that is required in pursuing fine food. It has in effect become a relatively affordable status symbol. A Hermes Birkin costs thousands, but a seven course degustation with matching wines at El Celler de Can Roca, the top restaurant on Restaurant Magazines Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list, in Girona, Spain will set you back about $250. While fashion retailing has softened, food retailing is on the rise. Think of it as the ‘lipstick effect’ (and, at worst, accessible hedonism) – n hard times, luxury shopping does not completely disappear but it morphs into something else; a consumer deems it more cost effective to spoil themselves with a bar gourmet chocolate than splashing out on a new dress.

Then there is the limited edition, must-be-the-first-to-have-it appeal. Renowned restaurant El Bulli had a waiting list believed to be longer than one for Chanel’s sold-out espadrilles. The food industry is constantly evolving with new cooking stars, hot restaurants and must try dishes being named daily, and achieving these checkpoint shows off one’s amateur gourmand status.  “I think the fact that they’re both fields that push people to experiment and be inventive leads to lots of new ideas bubbling over and gaining attention,” says Lam. For Jenny Capano, quitting her job at 3.1 Phillip Lin in New York with her friend Tara Gibson to relocate to Paris and start The Sporting Project, a food and fashion consulting firm, with clear choice, “The funny thing is that when I worked in fashion I always felt that if you weren’t talking about the shows, you were talking about where you were going to eat for dinner and what’s the new restaurant.” Capano and Gilson join a gilded league of former fashion industry members who work in food, such as Adam Rapoport, who went from style editor at GQ to editor-in-chief at Bon Appetite, former fashion model Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson, who, before becoming a celebrity cook, was a food writer for UK Vogue.

It is no coincidence that Paris is the capital of both food and fashion. Kind Louis XIV set out to make Paris the arbiter of taste and style, giving rise to celebrity chefs and courtiers as part of his mercantilist approach of economic and political policy under the advice of his controller general of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, long before Marie-Antoinette famously became a trendsetter in her own right. Louis XIV saw that becoming a leader in food and fashion was a ‘soft power’ and encouraged tourism and increased exports.

But with increasing homogeneity thanks to globalization and the influx of fast retailing making the street style of Shanghai not much different to that of Sydney or Stockholm, food is perhaps becoming one of the last few differentiating symbols. It is personal and creative expression at its most basic – flats or heels, cupcakes or ice cream, leather or lace, poached or fried? Food, like fashion, has its tribes, but its lower price makes it easier to try new experiences.

Everyone has their two cents to contribute about their most memorable meal or where to purchase the best pair of jeans. Food and fashion are a daily means of self-expression – yes, there’s as much weight in crafting ones own image when choosing Celine’s minimalist chic as to opting for a green smoothie with kale, futuristic Christopher Kane to tacos from the food truck.  Savvy celebrities can use this to their advantage as well. It adds to Blake Lively’s golden girl persona that she can simultaneously shimmy on the red carpet in an embellished Marchesa gown while enthusiastically espousing what she learnt in a private class at New Yorks Per Se restaurant, and increases Karlie Kloss’s small town girl charm when you read that her favourite hobby is baking. (Or for others, it can be polarizing – take, for example, Gwyneth Paltrow and her vegetarianism) “You need to get dressed once you tumble out of bed and you need to think about all the mealtimes that will get you through the day”, says Lam. “It doesn’t matter if you live in the metropolis or the Amazon, everyone is eating and everyone has tradition linked to food”, says Wiedemann. “Food provides a glimpse of our culture and lifestyle.”

IMG_1658Naturally, the overall growth and fascination with food is a contributing factor; think Masterchef, David Chang (of Momofuku) and his twitter account, new international food titles (Kinfolk, Gather Journal and Cereal) and the popularity of the brunch meeting. Patterns in socialising are also in the mix; social activities, particularly with woman are now planned around coffee or a meal rather than, say, shopping in a bricks and mortar store.  This explains our love for a long, weekend brunch (and those queues), which will surely be caught on fashions favourite social media platform of Instagram. Someone like Natalie Massenet of Net-A-Porter is just as likely to Instagram an image of her pasta dish or maltesar cake she made on her latest fashion purchase. On Vogue Australia’s Instagram account, images of cupcakes and other fanciful desserts are as popular as the new seasons fashion. “There seems to be more interest now, perhaps because were able to see what’s appearing on dinner tables around the world or inside acclaimed restaurants thanks to blogs, Instagram and other social media” says Lam. “Especially given how the never-ending social media circle has trained us to pounce on the next cool thing and retweet, repin and share.”

Some have argued that women’s fascination with food is regressive and anti-feminist. Aren’t we undoing the work of feminism if were suddenly reveling in the art of jam making while eyeing off the latest Charlotte Olympia heels? This is answered by what the writer Peggy Orenstein refers to in a 2010 article in the New York Times as the femivore movement – an “unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Better Draper”. Rather than seeing this as a backwards step, the femivore movement is about reclaiming previously gendered arenas like food and domesticity because, after all, women have historically been in charge of feeding the family. It also draws attention to women’s role in creating and consuming food as more than just fuel, but also as part of a lifestyle choice and for enjoyment, too.

“The timing just seemed right,” says Kerry Diamon of the decision with co-founder Claudia Wu to launch the fashion and food magazine Cherry Bombe, which reached its funding target on crowd sourcing site Kickstarter ahead of deadline. Kloss appears on the cover of the launch issue, which features other fashion foodies such as Garance Dore and Sofia Coppola. “We didn’t expect the reaction and, obviously, this is something that women are hungry for in multiple ways”. “Food is coming its own art form,” agrees Wu. “People are elevating food from just sustenance to something with style”. Between Wu and Diamon, their CV’s name-check Lancome, WWD and independent fashion magazine Me.

The margining of food and fashion results in mutual lifestyle-ification. The store Merci, which is in a mansion in the Marais district in Paris, stocks a range of designers alongside three different cafes, and London’s Dover Street Market is a retail must not just for its extensive Comme des Garcons products but for the Rose Bakery upstairs. Evolution has forced fashion brands to enhance their competitive edge by exploring lifestyle components, like Herme including a café in its Saint Germain des Pres store. “Fashion gains inspiration from everywhere,” says Capano. “It’s not really just about fashion, its about lifestyle.”

There are the big name fashion and food collaborations that make headlines – Albert Elbaz for Laduree and Armani chocolate – but what is most enlightening is the philosophy of extending your taste beyond what you wear, to other areas in your life. “It’s nice to inspire the whole act of nourishing, and in all its forms”, says Diamond.

“Nourishing the stomach, the brain the eye and each other”. The one thing that can be relied upon, despite the ebb and flow of trends in food and fashion, is the enjoyment that comes from living a stylish life to its fullest, from what you put in your stomach to what you put on your back. As Yves Saint Laurent once said: “All elements of life follow a certain style.” Yet there’s one that never goes out of fashion, and that’s good food.”

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Blueberry, Dark Cacao & Kakadu Plum Pancakes with Blackberry Yoghurt & Warm Blueberries – Makes 1 – 10 Minutes – Superfood – Breakfast

4 Egg Whites – 1 Egg Yolk – 1 Banana – 1/2 Cup Blueberries – 1/4 tsp Cinnamon – 1 Serving Bare Blends Dark Cacao & Kakadu Native WPI - 1/4 tsp Bee Pollen – 1 tbsp Chia Seed – 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil – Chobani Blackberry Yoghurt

1. In a bowl, smash the banana until smooth and runny. Add the eggs whites and yolk with the Bare Blends Dark Cacao & Kakadu Native WPI, blueberries, cinnamon, chia seed and whisk well. *Alternatively, add all into a blender and blend until smooth.

2. In a pan, allow the coconut oil to melt and then add the batter. *It can make one big pancake or a dozen small ones. Flip once the top of the pancake batter starts to bubble.

3. To serve, top with Chobani Blackberry yoghurt, bee pollen and extra cinnamon. Warm up the left over blueberries and drizzle over the top. Serve warm.

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“Once in a while, blow your own god damn mind.”

Simply simple – Live Healthy, Live bLANk

*Disclaimer: All photographs in a bLANk’s Nourishing Recipe Index are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk - Photography by Casey Trebilcock Copyright 2013

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Blood Orange, Banana, Blueberry & Flaked Almond Smoothie Bowl – Makes 1 – 3 Minutes – Superfood – Breakfast

3 Oranges – 1 Blood Orange – 1 Banana – 1/2 Cup Blueberries – 1/4 tsp Maca Powder – 1/4 tsp Cinnamon – 1/2 Cup Ice – 2 tbsp Flaked Almonds

1. In a blender, process all the ingredients together until smooth but thick in consistency.

2. Top with flaked almonds and extra cinnamon.

3. Serve cold and with a spoon or straw.

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel…” – Maya 

Simply simple – Live Healthy, Live bLANk

*Disclaimer: All photographs in a bLANk’s Nourishing Recipe Index are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk - Photography by Casey Trebilcock Copyright 2013

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IMG_1358“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broke” – MKF Fisher

If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. 

If an egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins. 

Great things happen from the inside, just a reminder. 

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Hardboiled Eggs and Soldiers – Makes 1 – 3 Minutes – Simple

1 Organic Egg – Slice of Grain Based Bread Loaf – Himalayan Salt

1. Bring a small saucepan half filled with water to the boil and place the egg gently in with a spoon.

2. Allow to boil for 3 minutes whilst putting the bread in the toaster.

3. Serve warm for a running egg with salt.

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Simply simple – Live Healthy, Live bLANk

*Disclaimer: All photographs in a bLANk’s Nourishing Recipe Index are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk - Photography by Casey Trebilcock Copyright 2013

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You know when you offer to bring a salad or something to a BBQ or dinner party and you get home and have that freak out like ‘What am I going to cook? Will it taste alright? Will everyone like it?!’ Well, here’s the answer, a simple salad that will not only look decent but pulls through on taste! Sweet and nutty, savoury and tangy, you can’t go wrong!

Be conscious and help spread the health movement by being healthy where and when you can – some people at your BBQ may not have heard of quinoa (Highly unlikely now!) but it’s another way we can share our knowledge, recipes and nourish the right way!

A little secret…this salad has never let me down, it’s the one where people ask for the recipe, so jump onboard!

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Signature Mixed Quinoa and Cranberry, Cumin Warm Nut Salad – Makes 4 serves – 15 Minutes – Superfood – Vegetarian

1.5 Cups Mixed Colour Quinoa (White, Black and Red) – 4 Small Radishes – 1/2 tbsp Cumin Seeds – 1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds or Flaked – 1/4 Cup Pine nuts – 1/4 Cup Mixed Pepitas and Sunflower Seeds – 1 Red Onion – 1.5 Cups Chopped Mixed Herbs (Parsley, Mint, Coriander) – 1 Cup Roasted Red Capsicum – 1/4 Cup of Currants – 1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries – Squeeze of Lemon – Squeeze of Lime – 1/2 Cup Pomegranate Seeds

1. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of Mixed Coloured Quinoa to the boil for 5 minutes. Once it is bubbling, turn the heat down to low and place a lid on top. Allow this to simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.

2. Once the quinoa is cooked allow to cool on the side. On medium heat, add the pine nuts, flaked almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds along with the cumin seeds into the pan. Cook until lightly toasted or golden.

3. Finely diced a red onion, chop the mixed herbs, and thinly slice the roasted capsicum. In a bowl, add these with the currant, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced radishes and squeeze the lemon and lime over the top.

4. Toss this through the warm quinoa and lightly season. *Can add rocket/mixed leaves/spinach. 

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This can be the salad “when you’re told not to bring a thing!” 

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Simply simple – Live Healthy, Live bLANk

*Disclaimer: All photographs in a bLANk’s Nourishing Recipe Index are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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Pushing considerable boundaries and stretching across boarders, Sean Car hasn’t just exhibited entrepreneurship but established something of marked influence, a significant initiative. He has embraced the idea of changing the world with his own hands and begun ‘Edu-caring Africa’ quite literally through his very own charity. At just 21 as a Melbourne Journalism Student Sean has achieved considerable revolutions internationally and continues to constantly raise awareness nationwide.

[Who are you in a nutshell?] – “That’s a difficult one! To be entirely honest I don’t really know who I am yet. At 21 I still feel like I am figuring that out in the way of learning. But in a nutshell I guess I would say I like people.”

[What was your ‘life changing moment’?] – “I don’t really believe in the idea that one moment changes your life. I think ones life develops through learning and experience from collective ‘moments’. So I suppose if I was to point to the experience that has had the most profound impact on my life to date it would be my journey in 2012 to Africa.”

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[You are 21 and have your own charity, how did that happen?] – “Good question I often look back to it all in retrospect and hardly feel like I know myself. The charity manifested during a particularly unique stage in my life. After months of living in the simple and remote world of Africa returning to the fast paced nature of the city was a difficult transition to adjust to immediately.

The wonderful experiences I had with the people I met and the places I discovered will always stay embedded in me and for that I was a very happy person upon my return. However, after working so closely and bonding with these same people I felt conflicted about the idea of ignoring the hardships that they face everyday. Seeing that a Malawian child could miss a month of school because his family couldn’t afford the 50-kwacha fee (equating to 20c Aust.). A woman dies of a curable insect wound because clinics lack enough treatments and bandages. A nursery AIDS orphanage can’t afford $250 a month to help feed over 100 AIDS orphans, provide carers with a living wage and provide resources for learning. A teenager who has passed their exams to qualify for high school but can’t afford the yearly fee of roughly $50 that will provide them with an education, uniform and books.

The potential to help encouraged change for these communities was simply too hard to ignore. So knowing that as a student I was financially incapable to personally help cure these issues I saw an opportunity to help through a collective effort of goodwill from those in the first world who are a little more fortunate!”

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[Now what is Educaring Africa?] – “Educaring Africa’s belief is spelt out in its name. ‘Edu’ relates to education; ‘Car’ relates to healthcare and all of it is united under ‘caring’ for those we support. Despite most of the work currently being undertaken in Malawi I wanted to include Africa in the title with the intention of expanding my vision throughout the continent going forward. It works alongside licensed community NGO’s (Malawi Volunteer Organisation, Kidumunye Maasai Association, Kenya) in Africa whom I volunteered with. The key philosophy embedded in the foundations of the charity is a drive to promote the notion of self-help for these developing communities. This is based on providing institutional opportunities within the key areas of education, health care and social development so that future generations are given the chance to control their own destiny.

A lot of the time you find that the schools, clinics, orphanages, etc. that they have constructed and started themselves simply need guidance and funding rather than someone coming in and implementing something new. At the end of the day there is no one who knows a community better than the community itself. This philosophy gives them a sense of ownership and helps to encourage future generations of Africans to give back to their people. I think an important aspect of any charity is to help encourage as many people to be as civically active as possible from those donating to those being supported. That and transparency! I worked under a lot of charities prior to this and know how crucial this is.

I’m constantly posting receipts, photos and updates on Facebook and the website as this inspires donor confidence and encourages development. But to sum up what this entire project is based upon in one word: humanity!”

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[Where did you start? It is a pretty decent project to begin your own charity, how did you figure out the road to getting this up and running?] – “The idea first came to me when I was in Malawi. I remember talking to Harry, director of MVO Malawi, one afternoon outside a classroom in Monkey Bay and discussing the problems facing the school for what seemed like the hundredth time. I remember thinking at the time why are they problems? Why can’t kids attend school? Why can’t people access basic healthcare? Why can’t AIDS orphans be provided with the right to a basic meal everyday at nursery school?

The reason I felt was that it was due to a lack of meaningful solutions. And furthermore what are indeed simple solutions. I told Harry of my idea and I remember him just nodding happily. From there we went about arranging meetings with different elements of the community relating to the various projects we were seeking to fund, which gave me an opportunity to state my intentions. More importantly though through open dialogue with the NGO and the people I was able to listen to their wishes and concerns in order to gain the best possible understanding of how to go about all of this. I think community consultation is imperative to development as it encourages progress when everyone is on the same page.

So I left Africa knowing that there was an opportunity there. However, returning home during my ‘identity crisis’ (beard, hippy clothing and all!) I found it difficult to arrange all these ideas in my head whilst adjusting back to the ‘first world’ again. Eventually I turned to my mentor Arpad Maksay, a man who I had worked closely with over the years in fair trade and social projects with, to seek his wisdom. I remember throwing a million questions at him. Where do I register this? How do I set up that? How much does that cost? He quickly shut me up…politely of course. He said, “Mate stop right there. You know what to do, so just do it.” All of a sudden everything became clearer. I realised all I needed to do was take a step outside my mind for a moment and start organising my thoughts in order to achieve my goal.

So piece by piece I registered my business, the name, launched a website, registered accounts and established links within my bank here and in Malawi, planned projects via email with Harry in Malawi, etc. etc. and before I knew it Educaring Africa had begun!”

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[How much have you raised to date for Educaring Africa?] – “I don’t have an exact total with last week’s Irish fundraiser still receiving some late donations. But I can both safely and proudly say that in well under a year Educaring Africa have raised a little under $9000.”

[What has this money enabled the communities to do?] – “Since launching Educaring Africa has put over 200 Malawian teenagers through high school, which has included uniforms and book fees. 17 primary schools have been provided with resources such as new blackboards, pens and books. A community based medical wounds treatment clinic has been provided resources such as bandages, ointments, etc.

This clinic helps provide an arm for the hospital in Monkey Bay, which doesn’t possess the resources to help people in more remote villages. Ongoing monthly funding has also been provided to AIDS orphanages. That funding has seen more than 100 orphans fed daily, teachers receiving a living wage and learning resources provided. I am pretty thrilled with what we have managed to achieve so far but always looking to expand.”

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[When you were travelling around Africa what was something that really pulled on the heartstrings, what made you go…I need to do something about this?] – “Again there was no isolated moment that triggered it. It was there before my eyes everyday whilst travelling in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa. Even in South Africa, where my family is from, the contrast in social living standards is very confronting. In Cape Town mansions can surround you one moment and then 10 minutes down the road you find yourself surrounded by slum shack villages housing 40,000 people! During my first day working in Malawi I remember walking through one of the villages that was home to one of the AIDS orphanages we supported.

Along the way you would see children with hardly any clothes on, mothers feeding their babies without a roof over their head and men selling bananas on the side of the road that were covered in ants. The main thing I remember about it though was what smiling, beautiful and happy people they all seemed. They seldom begged in desperation despite having nothing and were so warm and welcoming. However, I couldn’t let that act as a smokescreen to allow for complacency to set in. Rather it motivated me to help these wonderful people. Thus, it was more just the general state of affairs that made me wonder how can we allow other human beings to live like this? Something as simple as an education can help change all of that and provide a sense of hope.”

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[To know that you are helping in such a significant way, to see the smiles of the kids in the towns you are helping, how does that make you feel?] – “As proud as I am of my efforts Educaring Africa has nothing to do with me at the end of the day! I set it up to help those who I worked alongside and to benefit future generations of Africans. I am so happy whenever I receive photos or updates from Harry in Malawi. I think when we sent 96 teenagers to high school following our opening fundraiser and seeing them in photos in their new uniforms probably had to be the most humbling moment of my life.

Seeing photos of AIDS orphans holding new bowls filled with porridge, a giant class of children surrounding a new blackboard or a child getting her leg bandaged couldn’t make me happier! I think the support of friends and people in our world also has to be acknowledged for helping make this all possible. One of the most satisfying aspects of this project has seen how much people have rallied to support. It’s these types of acts that help restore your faith in humanity and put a smile on my face!”

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[The most profound moment you have had on this journey?] - Sending all the teenagers to school would definitely be up there! I also think getting five year old Gift accepted through the Children’s First Foundation to receive surgery on a renal disorder at the Royal Children’s Hospital has been a profound journey in itself.

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[What’s next for Educaring Africa and Sean Car?] - Well what’s next for Educaring Africa is not surprisingly very closely entwined with what’s next for Sean Car at the moment! Gift is expected to arrive in July for his first clinic appointment so that is taking up most of my energy at the moment. We are currently at the stage of arranging his medical visa, which once finalised will see him in Australia for what were still hoping will be a July arrival!

Accompanying him will be director of MVO Malawi and my good friend Harry Komwa. Harry is incredibly excited to use his trip as an opportunity to not only map out future development strategies and goals for the charity but to educate people here about the work we are doing. So we will be aiming to tee up some school visits and some potential fundraising projects whilst he is here. However, the best part about this is that I will be returning Gift home after his surgery is complete where I plan to stay in Africa for an extensive period. This will give me a great opportunity to work more closely with the NGO and the community to expand on what were already doing.

The goal is that with increased funding we can set our sights towards infrastructure projects for schools, orphanages and clinics. In the mean time though I am planning a few more fundraisers here at home. In terms of my plans personally going forward I have just completed my journalism degree at Monash and am looking to incorporate those skills during my time in Africa by filming a documentary type piece on the work of the charity. Otherwise, at 21 a lot is still up in the air! I am currently tossing up a return to university next year in international development or seeking a full time career in journalism. In the mean time all I can think about though is returning to my second home in Africa!”

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[Who is this little boy, Gift?] – “Gift is a five year old Malawian boy suffering from a renal disorder/testicular deformity, which he was born with. He is the son of William James, an employee of MVO Malawi who was a close friend of mine during my time in Malawi.

The condition he suffers from causes him terrible pain when going to the toilet and is increasingly impacting his health every day. With his family living below the poverty line they are unable to afford carer wages for their son who therefore is unable to attend school as a result. However, thankfully through the assistance of Moira Kelly’s Children First Foundation and Educaring Africa, Gift has been accepted to be flown over to receive the surgery he needs at the Royal Children’s Hospital here in Melbourne. He is expected to arrive in the coming month once medical visas are finalised.”

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It just really goes to show, if you believe in doing something good for humanity and start somewhere, anywhere, you can really begin to change the world. Start locally, impact globally.

You are a true inspiration Sean, my hat goes off to you!

If you would like to help Educaring Africa you can donate, get involved and learn more at http://www.educaringafrica.org/

[Stained Pomegranate Seed - Everything in between]

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If you held a dinner party, and you could invite any 5 people in the entire world, dead or alive, who would you choose…? 

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I would invite Bear Grylls, Matthew Kenney, Will Smith, David Attenborough, Ellen Degeneres but they unfortunately couldn’t attend this dinner party, so I invited 5 of the closet people to me. This was a surprise birthday dinner for my Mum…

A dinner party I called, ‘White Zest’.

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Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I prefer experiences to ‘stuff’, memories to gifts and overall a good feed over anything. I love being able to share an experience with the people in my life, and a lot of those experiences always start with food!

For my Mum’s birthday, all she ever asks for is for me to cook, so I cooked and made a dinner party of it, my present to her was an experience turned memory! 5 courses, 5 people, a garden and a good time. Let this photo story show you a little love and a whole lot of joy! 

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White Zest

Two words that represent me. Possibly a cookbook title? Possibly a new blog title?  It’s another phrase for Casey Trebilcock, my tagline?

I play around with words all the time, synonyms, antonyms, verbs, nouns, I frolic in grammar and swing on sentences. White Zest formed from my minds scrabble board, it’s a word play, a dictionary meaning of Casey.

White is the foundation of bLANk (www.abLANkblog.com), the vision of hope and creativity, it offers me that of growth, liberty and scope, it welcomes the unplanned and seeks to preserve visual expression. White is how everything starts in my life, white can embrace any colour, any situation and adapt, transform and invent the new. White is the starting point.

As for ‘Zest’, it’s the one adjective I have heard multiple times that describes me, that reflects who I am, my personality, my ‘zest for life’.  Zest is the way I live, I always give a little piece of myself to everything I do, I do it with enthusiasm – keenness – gusto – taste – relish – appetite – tang – bite, all words that are synonyms to Zest fit to me to a T.

Put white and zest together, you get Casey Trebilcock, you get the ‘White Zest’.

So my first dinner party had to reflect exactly who I am and where this passion came from, it came from white and it came from my zest. I had to pour it onto a plate and let my food carry my essence and personal expression.

23The Natural FK & P Series Menu [White Zest]

Spring 2013

Appetisers

Pre dinner drinks accompanied with a classic coriander homemade tzatziki dip with a walnut and beetroot flair alongside pricked tomato and basil.

Tasting Plate

A trifecta tasting plate display of (1) Lime and herb marinated chicken black skewers, (2) Rosemary infused smashed pumpkin bruschetta finished with rocket and a balsamic drip (3) A chargrilled zucchini rolled ‘sushi’.

Entree 

Double stuffed portobello mushrooms with black sesame and rocket with free formed, quinoa flaked, seeded wholemeal dinosaur bread rolls.

Main

Green Beans and smashed cashews.

Lemon and rosemary roasted asparagus and roma cherry tomatoes.

Lightly tossed green garden salad.

Atlantic infused seeded salmon with a cumin, herb and nut, white quinoa salad.

Dessert

Avocado whipped mousse underneath a dark chocolate pistachio and ginger bark finished with garden fresh mint.

tester2

bLANk’s Homemade tzatziki dip with a walnut and beetroots flair - Makes 1.5 cups – 5 Minutes

170g Chobani Plain 0% Greek Natural Yoghurt – 15cm’s of Cucumber – 1/2 cup Coriander – 1/4 cup Chives – 1 tsp crushed garlic – 1 tsp Lemon Juice – 1/2 cup Beetroot – 1/4 cup Walnuts – 1 Packet of Sorj Wholemeal Wraps

1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Finely chop the fresh chives, coriander and dice the cucumber. In a bowl, mix the Chobani yoghurt with the fresh herbs and cucumber and crush a tsp of garlic and mix together. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture and stir a few times. Set the dip aside.

2. Spray the Sorj Wholemeal Wraps with some olive oil or drizzle with some coconut. Add to a baking tray and allow to become golden in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take them out when crispy and set aside.

3. Finely slice the beetroot and then dice. Crush the walnuts roughly with a knife or rolling pin.

4. Break up the Sorj Wholemeal Wraps into decent savoury biscuit pieces. Top the dip with the walnut and beetroot and an extra handful of coriander to taste.

Tip: The trick with my homemade dip is to let it sit in the fridge for a little while to let the flavours combine. 

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It’s the company not the cooking, that makes a meal.” – Kirby Larson

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“One of the very best things of life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating” – Luciano Pavarotti

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Pricked Tomato and Basil – Makes 20 – 5 Minutes

20 Small cherry tomatos – 20 Toothpicks – 20 Fresh basil leaves

1. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and rip of some basil leaves.

2. Prick the toothpick with half a cherry tomato and fold the basil leaf in half in the middle. Add the other half of the tomato on top of the basil leaf.

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Rosemary infused smashed pumpkin finished with rocket and a balsamic drip – Makes 6 – 25 Minutes

Fresh rosemary sprigs – 1 cup Pumpkin – 1 cup Rocket – Wholemeal or rye pumpernickel bread – Balsamic dressing

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Roughly chop the pumpkin (The secret to beautiful roasted pumpkin is cutting it in different shapes) and place on a baking tray. Mix with some rosemary sprigs and a dash of olive oil. Allow to roast for about 15 minutes in the oven or until soft.

2. Cut three pieces of pumpernickel bread in half and lay out on the tasting plate. Add the roasted pumpkin.

3. Drop some rocket on top, it doesn’t need to be neat. Drip over some balsamic dressing and serve next to the marinated chicken tenders.

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Lime and herb marinated chicken black skewers – Makes 10 – 25 Minutes

10 Chicken tenders – 1 Red Chilli – 1 Fresh lime – 1 tbsp Mixed dried herbs – 10 Skewers – 1/2 cup Coriander – Cracked Pepper

1. Soak the skewers in water for around 20 minutes prior so that they don’t splinter.

2. Lie the chicken tenders in a large dish and dress with the juice of a whole lime. Sprinkle with the mixed herbs, finely sliced red chilli, coriander and season with cracked pepper.

3. Allow to marinade over night or for 20 minutes depending on your own time restrictions. Once the flavour is strong, add the chicken tenders to the skewers.

4. On a hot grill, place the skewers side by side and allow to become charred before turning them. Cook until tender and serve on the tasting plate.

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My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” - Orson Welles

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“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” - Cesar Chavez

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[The Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series - Just be]

*Disclaimer: All photographs in bLANk’s ‘Natural Fork, Knife & Plate Series’ are taken by bLANk and rightly owned by bLANk

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