It's almost four years since I quit my corporate career and packed up my comfortable life in Sydney and moved to a rented farm 15 minutes drive to anything in the Hunter Valley and opened a restaurant.
The last 3 years have been a rollercoaster to say the least but 2019 is looking great and I don't regret a thing. The only thing I miss about corporate life is pay day.
Love Kitchen rebranded in January from Nanna Kerr's Kitchen and the menu has been overhauled. We'd now describe ourselves as that simple, elegant, relaxed place in the vineyards serving up healthy, yet indulgent food with an Italian vegan twist. A bit of a mouthful in itself - it's a work in progress.
I'd always wanted to own a restaurant since travelling through France and Italy as a child on family holidays and being in awe of the little bistros in French market towns and
trattorias in the hills of Tuscany. I was food obsessed... more on that later.
How and why am I almost vegan?
On a good week I'm about 70% vegan - no dairy besides a little bit of butter on my organic ciabatta from Bread Basket in Kurri Kurri, a little fish from the Newcastle Co-op and maybe some chicken from Little Hill Farm and a meatball or two made with meat from Morpeth Butchery. My Italian heritage means I love real parmesan on my pasta but I am also loving the cashew and mustard powder vegan version we've been making in the restaurant too.
Most of the time I choose to eat veggies, drink non-dairy milk in my coffee and stay away from animal products because it's part of my health journey. In the late 90s I was diagnosed with Gilbert's Syndrome which causes fatigue and the specialist suggested a diet low in red meat and high in fruit and vegetables seemed to be helping some people; raw fruit and vegetables particularly. I immediately became vegetarian and that lasted about two years before bacon called me.
In late 2008 I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid or
hypothyroidism, the symptoms were early baldness, getting fatter and forgetfulness. I was prescribed thyroxine and the battle to find the optimum dose began and is still on-going. Whilst the medical doctors all tell me it's the pill for life and nothing else I have noticed and there's Google support for it too that a plant-based diet seems to keep the symptoms from flaring up.
Now ten years on I am no dietician or nutritional expert although I do consume a lot of media around it I have found that I feel better when I eat more plants and less meat and dairy - I'm almost vegan.
I also like the fact that a plant heavy diet seems to better for the planet as well.