Rachel Jelley is a woman enlightened by food. Years spent cooking and entertaining for love eventually evolved into a series of pop-up dinners at a Marrickville warehouse. Then, in 2017, she left the world of corporate finance to turn passion into profession.
“Food was always my safety zone – I’d come back from work and go to the kitchen and start making a risotto and I’d slowly start to de-stress … it’s always been ‘home’ for me.”
After a couple of extended stints in Mexico cooking and learning, Jelley decided it was time to find a permanent space for her cooking. That led her to open Hearth and Soul on the south end of King Street – a homey venue with stained-glass windows, timber rafters and a courtyard.
Inside the charming haven she’s created – a space that retains the spirit of her pop-up dinner parties – it’s hard to think of a better-suited neighbourhood for Jelley to realise her vision as a conscious cook. Conscious cooking, she says, is taking a holistic approach to food and using the practice of mindfulness in cooking – think the rhythmic, meditative-like quality of kneading bread – a concept she’s found her local diners are open to.
“That process of actually grinding something, stone-on-stone, is so primal and it speaks so much to you in a way that turning on a blender can’t do. There’s a beauty in creating something that takes effort, work and time,” she tells Broadsheet.
Jelley relies on seasonal, local produce, including pasture-raised meat and poultry from nearby Feather & Bone, pastured eggs (from chickens that walk around in open fields, with more space and freedom generally than free-range chickens) from Holbrook Paddock in central NSW and largely organic fruit and vegetables from Pocket City Farms in Camperdown.
The menu goes from bright and zesty to comforting and nourishing, featuring seared octopus with borlotti beans; braised lamb shoulder with thyme, rosemary and barley; and white Tokyo turnips with brown butter.
But the standout is the spiced goat heart with house-made labneh and herbs. “Try to calm yourself: the heart is merely another muscle,” says the menu. (The fact Hearth and Soul serves its heart on a plate is a detail not lost on us.)
Dessert is spiced sticky date pudding or a selection of cheeses. An all-day breakfast menu is available on weekends, and the drinks list has seasonal cocktails – a crimson snow apple and wild orange mimosa when Broadsheet visits – alongside a succinct, mainly local wine list and beer selection.
Hearth and Soul has three spaces: a dining room with a communal table and garden-inspired centrepiece of moss and greenery, a Spanish-inspired open kitchen, and a cosy lounge room with antique furniture and quirky travel trinkets that leads onto a vegetable garden. Jelley hosts seasonal feasts and conscious-cooking classes. These get participants harvesting ingredients from the grounds of Camperdown’s Pocket City Farms and preparing them in the Newtown kitchen in an intuitive way. “I believe we have lost the ability to understand what it is to nourish ourselves, and that touches so many parts of our lives … The obvious place to reconnect with that is in the kitchen because you’re working with nature, that’s what you do every single time you chop an onion – that is a product of the earth.”
Hearth and Soul
528–528A King Street, Newtown
0473 907 481
Thu, Fri & Sat 6pm–10pm
Sat & Sun 10am–4pm