A recap of the year that was, and a glance at 2014November 25, 2013
2013 has been a massive year for me, personally and professionally.
In February, Sharlee and I welcomed Jay, our hooligan #2, into the world- and what a little cracker he is!
Also in Feb, Hams and Bacon opened its doors, and we have been refining and tweaking ever since to bring the best little produce store we can.
In May, we sent the Bishop of Ostia on a permanent sabbatical to Rome, and relaunched Pope Joan with a fresh new look. We also opened up our Garden Room for functions and conferences.
All the while, behind the scenes, we were working towards opening Pope Joan as a sophisticated, yet casual and welcoming nightime eatery Monday to Friday. Doors opened in June, and there has been no looking back!
It was what a lot of our locals and regulars were asking us for, so we gave the people what they wanted. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from customers, and also some love from the critics, so it’s been a pretty successful enterprise all-round!
July saw Pope Joan celebrate her 3rd birthday. It was nice to take a moment and realize how far we’ve come in just three short years- from a little café and courtyard, to café/bar/restaurant & produce store. It’s been a lot of work for all involved, but such a satisfying challenge.
By August we were really kicking along at Hams and Bacon, and we launched our Meet the Producers evenings, with Tim and Katrina from Barham Avocadoes, travelling from their farm in NSW, to talk to us about their lovely avocadoes over a glass of wine.
In September I made an appearance at the Royal Melbourne Show, and was soundly beaten in a ginger-fluff sponge cook-off by some lovely Vic CWA ladies.
Lozza and Lachlan from Bundarra Berkshires brought some little piglets for us to coo over for the Sept Meet the Producers, and we also hosted a dinner for lots of lovely guests from delicious. magazine!
October was pretty busy too (are you noticing a theme here?) I travelled to the King Valley to cook for the annual Christmount Winery Spring lunch, and Seven Hills of Tallarook brought some of their gorgeous goats to Hams and Bacon for us to meet. We also had the honour of hosting the launch of Rick Stein’s memoir “Under a Mackerel Sky”, in conjunction with our good friends at Books for Cooks.
Then, Pope Joan restaurant was reviewed in both major papers weekend magazines on the SAME DAY! Kapow!!
November was pretty crazy- 8 plane rides in about 3 weeks- including heading to the US of A to speak at the Culinary Institute of America’s ‘Worlds of Flavor’ conference. I was very humbled and excited to be invited to take part in this event- to share inspiration and ideas on the way I approach cooking with chefs from all over the globe! And to get to work on my tan in sunny California at the same time- what a dream for a pasty bloke from Yorkshire!
Then it was home to Melbourne, with just enough time to pick up the family and head straight off again to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape- to cook alongside the likes of Heston Blumenthal & Sat Bains, as well as me old mates, Darren Robertson & George Colambaris. After that, a week off was very well-earned, I thought!
Returning to Melbourne for December, Mr. Wilkinson’s range of condiments will launch through Hams and Bacon- there’ll be 6 to start with, with more to come in 2014.
December will also see Warialda Belted Galloways bring in one of their fine moo-ers for Meet the Producers. Meet the Producers will take a summer holiday for January, to return in Feb with Melbourne Rooftop Honey, and Milawa Free Range Chicken in March
On Sat 21st Dec the Pope Joan garden will host the launch of new local product BLOX, at an ‘All-American’ style BBQ. Looking forward to that.
Finally, Joan is celebrating Christmas Eve, and bringing in the New Year for the first time with special dinners!
Phew! I’m exhausted just re-living all that!
Join us for more in 2014 too…(It’s going to include book #2!!)