Jessie Spiby is a busy woman. The MasterChef alumnus runs a rip-roaring catering trade, heads up festival event Food, Booze and Dancing Shoes, and has cooked under chef Paul Baker at Botanic Gardens Restaurant.
Now, Spiby is funnelling her knowledge – and centralising her operations – into a “sustainably focused” cafe slated to open at Plant 4, Bowden in autumn, and an online store for waste-free products. Both will trade under Spiby’s new brand: My Grandma Ben.
“Going back to the pollution levels when our grandparents were kids, it’s actually quite a sustainable amount for the future … they didn’t even have glad wrap!” Spiby says. “If we look back and learn some lessons, we can go forward and make big changes without having to give up too much.”
The community-minded cafe will rely on “what’s rescued from food markets … to stop perfectly good food going to landfill,” Spiby says. She compares it to Cornersmith in Sydney where backyard produce can be swapped for a coffee or jar of pickles.
“I’m envisioning a lot of pickling, fermenting and preserving,” she says – not only for sale, but also for on-site workshops.
Expect a largely plant-based offering, although “sustainable” doesn’t necessarily mean vegetarian or vegan. Kangaroo and fair-trade fish will make their way onto the menu. You’ll be able to pull up a seat, or grab a meal (or picnic box) on the fly.
The online store will help discerning shoppers lead a waste-conscious lifestyle, too. It’ll stock reusable produce bags (to replace single-use plastic bags in the supermarket); items to help you go plastic-free around the house; laundry-detergent alternatives (such as soapberries); and bamboo toothbrushes.
“I’m a little bit over the martyrdom, and people preaching and making everyone else feel bad,” Spiby says. Her online community will include recipes and feel-good stories about sustainability.