Claire van Vuuren and Mitch Grady did not plan to become chefs. She wanted to be an artist and he thought he’d be a golfer. Luckily for Sydney diners, their career paths got redirected – and the pair met while working at renowned Sydney institution Claude’s, where they bonded over practical jokes.
They went on to open Bloodwood in Newtown – a venue that marked the tectonic shift towards young chefs running casual-but-brilliant places that they personally enjoyed, instead of the high-end fine-diners that had defined “good food” in Sydney.
During this podcast, they also talk about the battles and highlights of working in the kitchen – from the incidents that have landed them in hospital to the thrill of running your own venue, where guests will walk right up to you and tell you what they really think. Mitch covers what it’s like to be a non-drinker while running a bar that has award-winning wine lists and Claire talks about the challenges endured when women are significantly outnumbered by men in the industry.
They also chat about organising the upcoming instalment of Newtown Locals. This year’s set of collaborations for Newtown Festival sees Black Star Pastry, Brewtown and N2 Extreme Gelato becoming a dessert super-group; Hartsyard and The Stinking Bishops teaming up to create the ultimate Beer Poutine; Bloodwood, Mary’s, The Bach Eatery and Old Town In Newtown joining forces on a Chicken Waffle Cone; and Oscillate Wildly and Bloodwood nailing the Veggie Corn Dog business. Plus, there’ll be offerings from Earl’s Juke Joint, the Courty, Rising Sun Workshop, 212 Blu and Mike Bennie as well. Make sure to check it all out on Sunday November 8 at Newtown Festival.
And huge thanks to everyone who has ultra-generously spread the word about the podcast or left comments in the iTunes store. And major gratitude, especially, to Levins and Mitch Orr for asking me to be on episode 8 of The Mitchen, alongside Mark Best, a certain ‘special guest’ and Luke Powell (who ended up telling a hilarious sequel to one of the stories he shared on my recent podcast; Mitch reveals another perspective, too). You can hear this instalment – and all episodes of The Mitchen – over here.
Newtown Locals photograph courtesy of Kate Disher-Quill.