Author, farmer and activist Wendell Berry once wrote that eating was an agricultural act. His words describe the importance of understanding the relationship between eating and the land. They also inspired Kate Walsh to develop the Real Food Projects.
The Projects was established in 2012 to change the way people approach food. “We’ve been conditioned to think cooking from scratch is too hard, that we don’t have time for it,” she says. “Modern-day eating habits have lead to a broken food system and affected the environment, and the only way to fix this is by going back to the kitchen.”
Walsh’s passion for sustainable, healthy eating is what drove the pop-up cooking school in 2014. It ran 20 classes over 20 days in July, taught by Sydney’s finest artisans. This year’s classes will focus on varying cooking techniques including passata making with Pasta Emilia; jams, chutney and pickling, with Kate Walsh; fermenting and baking sourdough with Holly Davis; creating raw desserts with Kate Jones (Vegan Teahouse); smoking meats with Jared Ingersoll (Barrel and Beast); and a pastry masterclass with Chris Thé (Black Star Pastry).
“We attract a wide spread of people to these classes,” says Walsh. “We get everyone from 24-year-old students and their mums, to 65-year-old retirees at different experience levels who just want to learn about cooking.” The classes are structured, so participants not only leave with fresh culinary skills, but also learn about the importance of supporting local producers, reducing waste and cooking seasonally.
Walsh’s first cookbook Real Food Projects – 30 skills and 46 Recipes from scratch is slated for release in April this year. It discusses “breaking up with your supermarket” and appreciating the story behind what’s on your plate.
The self-taught cook will also launch a recipe blog this month in collaboration with former Broadsheet food and lifestyle photographer Luisa Brimble and Bernadette Faddoul from Candy Says, called Eat the Beat. The blog will go beyond the table and peek into the kitchens of Walsh’s favourite people and tell their stories.