As the editor of Aun’s fantastic blog here at Chubby Hubby, one of the things I enjoy doing most is getting to know our fabulous contributors. Our contributors come from all walks of life – including marketing and creative folks, working mums (including S, Aun’s wife) who juggle a full time work schedule and still manage to turn out restaurant quality meals, as well as people who work in the corporate sector – all of whom take time out from their busy schedules (no doubt eating all the way) to share their eating and travel experiences, varied recipes and life in general with us and our readers.
Our newest contributor Elizabeth Loel comes with serious industry creds – she is Brisbane-based chef turned restaurant critic for The Courier Mail (and was the founding editor of the Courier Mail Food & Wine Guide since 2007), and has written for Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant Guide among other prestigious publications. I was mighty pleased we got to chat a little recently.
Lizzie, we’re thrilled to be talking to you! Now, you’re a chef, a food critic and writer, and you’d managed restaurants – wow! – what’s a typical day like for you these days?
A typical day for me starts with food; thinking about food, eating food, buying food, coming up with new food ideas, assessing other’s food, writing about food. And it ends with a little snack!
As a food critic, could you tell us how you go about selecting the restaurants you review?
New restaurants always get priority and we also look for restaurants who have had major change i.e. new chef/owner, renovation or some other major change.
And do you get recognized in the restaurants or do you sometimes go in disguise?
I once borrowed some daughters because the restaurant manager knew me and knew that I had three sons. It worked! I’ve also ordered from the carpark with two friends at the table. Once the food is served, I arrive and there’s nothing to be done about it. Brisbane is a big enough city now so there are many places who have no idea what I look like.
We’d love some insider insights about the always fresh and evolving food scene in Australia – which are considered the most interesting food cities right now, and what are some of the culinary/dining trends that are taking off?
Melbourne will always be interesting – it has a great balance of diverse ethnicity, innovation and and casual dining. Adelaide has that as well on a much smaller scale. I may sound biased but I love watching southerners come to Brisbane and marvel at what’s going on here. It’s exciting to watch how our style is evolving in a very different (and much more casual way) than the other major capital cities.
In your view, what makes a great restaurant?
A great restaurant has presence and is very sure of its credo. It works best when the owners and team commit fully to their ethos and see it through from the website and phone manner to the end of the meal. It doesn’t matter whether it’s casual or formal, ethnic or Mod Oz, it’s all about the attitude and aptitude of the team.