Meet Alysse Wafer – Melbourne based food stylist, a writer and marketer. She combines these passions by creating bespoke productions and events, documented on her website.
New Zealand born, Alysse grew up amongst a family of devout foodies who enjoyed cooking and eating together and meticulously planned out each meal of the day.
Today her parents own and run an organic Feijoa farm on the North Island, while her brother – a trained chef – manages a local vineyard and cellar door.
Her parent’s farming business has greatly impacted her approach to food, and Alysse has developed a deep respect for food producers from stints working on the orchard – and more than ever champions cooking what is in season.
Arriving in Melbourne to study, almost a decade ago, Alysse has made it home – inspired by the local food and arts scene and the work of local legends such as Stephanie Alexander and her contemporaries, including Julia Ostero.
“There are many people here in Melbourne who are doing great things and following their creative passion – I am inspired by them and enjoy supporting them as often as I can. Julia and I studied at the same university and are connected via friends. I’ve enjoyed watching her profile grow. I am really impressed by her approach and her work.” Allyse Wafer
What do you like living in the inner city suburb of Collingwood?
What’s not to like? I have everything I need on my doorstep and have access to amazing food, coffee and produce. Favourite spots of mine include Ocean Made Seafood, Smith Street Alimentari, Oxford Larder and Plug Nickel. It’s so great to be able to skip down to the Abbotsford Convent to the Melbourne Farmer’s Market and walk to work through the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens.
Where do you take visitors in Melbourne?
Whenever I have visitors I tend to just make them tag along with what I like to do! This tends to involve a lot of eating, but I especially love taking people to the Queen Victoria Markets, Cinema Nova or the NGV.
Is there a Melbourne (or Australian) word or expression that you noticed when you moved here, or find yourself using?
Everyone’s your ‘mate’ in Australia. I learned that quickly working in hospitality that it was often the easiest way to confer with people instead of the formality of ‘Sir/Madame’. People tell me I’ve lost my Kiwi accent along the way too, I don’t know if it was a subconscious adoption, but I feel pretty in tune with Aussie vernacular now!
You mentioned you attended a Grow Assembly event in town recently, what food event experiences would you recommend others try in Melbourne?
Yes, I recently went to their 2017 event which focused on sustainability – encompassing mental, physical, emotional, financial or environmental. It was a great a day of talks, training and interaction with leaders from the hospitality industry – totally inspiring.
There are so many great restaurants meals to be had in Melbourne, a favourite local of mine is Neighbourhood Wine – it’s a very cosy place to spend (a lot of!) time, catching up with friends.
But something else, something I think is really special, is to experience a hands-on cooking class at Free to Feed a pop-up cooking school that provides meaningful employment to asylum seekers and refugees. Not only is the food incredible, the stories of the chefs are incredibly humbling and inspiring.
What was the last meal you had out in Melbourne?
My last planned and booked dinner date was at Kirk’s Wine Bar – which was superb. But literally, the last meal I ate out was at Soi38, a fantastic Thai noodle bar tucked deep away in a Wilson car park in the CBD. Well worth the city traffic!
What is your favourite menu item right now?
I find it hard to select a single dish, as it’s quite rare for me to make the exact same thing twice! I’m more of an intuitive cook and have a tendency to deviate from recipes. I love making salads as they’re great way to feed the masses and I always seem to come up with new flavour combinations with whatever is on hand and in season.
If you weren’t carving out a career in food what would you be doing?
I’d like to think I’d make a good gardener. Something to aspire to in later life!
Do you have any special projects schedule for 2017 or beyond?
I have a few projects up my sleeve this year with the help of very some talented friends – I just shot a short “food” film and I am excited to see that come together.
Keep up with all that Allyse is doing via http://www.alyssewafer.com
This interview has been published on mountzeroolives.com.au