Gar­den path


How pi­o­neer or­ganic chef Brenda Faw­don came to grow her own menu.


When chef and restau­ra­teur Brenda Faw­don moved to Queens­land’s Tam­borine Moun­tain five years ago, it was a case of try­ing to beat the heat. “We were living in a ware­house apart­ment in Bris­bane’s Tener­iffe,” says Brenda, who shares her life with writer and illustrator Christine Sharp. “I al­ways felt hot there in the in­ner city — go­ing from the restau­rant kitchen to home felt like jump­ing out of the fry­ing pan into the fire.” An­other ad­van­tage of the cou­ple’s cool moun­tain eyrie is the vol­canic soil. tam­borine Moun­tain is part of an an­cient chain of vol­ca­noes that form a spur off the Great Di­vid­ing Range, and is a short drive in­land from the Gold Coast’s beaches.the rich soil and abun­dant rain of the rain­for­est-cloaked plateau make it great for gar­den­ing. Brenda was an early mem­ber of the or­ganic food move­ment. Mondo Or­gan­ics, the restau­rant she owns with Sonja Drexler, is now 15 years old, a vet­eran by eat­ing house stan­dards. It was, she says, the first li­censed or­ganic restau­rant in Australia. th­ese days Brenda con­ducts regular cooking classes at Mondo, leav­ing chef du­ties to her team, and she and Sonja also lead food tours to north­ern Italy. Part of her food sourc­ing starts “on the moun­tain”. Brenda and Christine found a house perch­ing on the edge of the es­carp­ment, with its stunning views to the Gold Coast.the abun­dance of black­butt tim­ber and a wrap­ping of cor­ru­gated iron made the build­ing rem­i­nis­cent of a coun­try shed, but the ma­jor at­trac­tion was the gar­den po­ten­tial. Quite apart from the re­gion’s soil and cli­mate, “We loved that there were no chem­i­cal sprays or tox­ins

used on the prop­erty,” Brenda says. “this was a big plus for us, as we wanted to plant an or­ganic gar­den.” A pretty potager near the front door, with an en­try through a vine-cov­ered trel­lis, pro­vides daily herbs and veg­eta­bles. Down the steeply slop­ing site, they have es­tab­lished an or­chard of dwarf fruit trees, all wa­tered by stored rain­wa­ter and fed by the com­post­ing worm farm. there are plans for a bee­hive. Brenda and Christine col­lab­o­rated on a recipe book, Whole­hearted Food (Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land Press, $39.95), a be­guil­ing ex­pres­sion of their phi­los­o­phy of nour­ish­ment and sea­sonal de­lights. Us­ing their own gar­den pro­duce, and the de­light­fully ren­o­vated kitchen — an as­sem­blage of re­cy­cled tim­ber — Christine pho­tographed the dishes that Brenda pre­pared.

Al­low­ing na­ture to take its course on the moun­tain side is all part of the or­ganic ap­proach to gar­den­ing, to which the pair are deeply com­mit­ted. As Brenda notes, “In sum­mer much of the place is cov­ered in weeds — wan­der­ing Jew, cob­bler’s pegs, dan­de­lions — and there are lots of snakes.we just let it all go wild and wait for the big au­tumn clean-up.” In­ci­den­tally, dan­de­lions are more than weeds to Brenda, and ap­pear sev­eral times in the book — there’s dan­de­lion tea for break­fast, as well as the de­li­cious and ex­otic choco­late dan­de­lion pud­ding recipe. As Brenda says, “Eat­ing whole­foods isn’t about de­pri­va­tion — it’s about en­joy­ing life.” Mondo Or­gan­ics is at 166 Hard­grave Road, west End, Queens­land. (07) 3844 1132; mondo-or­gan­

CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP LEFT ‘Joppa’ is an early fruit­ing or­ange; daisies and marigolds by the alpine straw­berry patch; nas­tur­tium flow­ers crown a salad of freshly picked leaves; raised beds of kale, let­tuce, cab­bage and cau­li­flower, with turmeric, gin­ger and galan­gal along the back fence; a stroll through the or­chard. FAC­ING PAGE, CLOCK­WISE, FROM LEFT Brenda in the kitchen that served as a back­drop for the recipe book; ap­ples, pump­kins and sev­eral potato va­ri­eties; ‘Mer­lot’, a deep pur­ple let­tuce.

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