Rob Caslick has designed lights for the blind, been deployed to Iraq as a naval boarding officer (where he intercepted illegal vessels smuggling oil in the aftermath of September 11), but if you like food, you probably know him for running Two Good. The company produces not-so-ordinary meals using recipes by Yottam Ottolenghi, Ben Shewry, Analiese Gregory, Mitch Orr, Neil Perry and other acclaimed chefs. It’s built on a charitable two-for-one model, where you pay for two meals: one for you and the other to be donated to a shelter. Two Good’s soups and salads are made by women from domestic violence shelters who are paid above award wages. And the quality of food is exceptional – Mat Lindsay’s signature cauliflower dish from Ester (the one he can’t take off the menu, due to its legendary popularity) has been turned into a salad for Two Good and Mitch Orr’s roast hazelnut, celeriac and cavolo nero soup is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. I think I ordered ten when it was on the Two Good menu.
This is not just about name-dropping, though. Two Good conveys to people in shelters that they are also worthy of a meal by Ben Shewry, Analiese Gregory or other acclaimed chefs.
Given Two Good’s inspiring work, perhaps it’s not surprising that it won the Food For Good category at 2016’s Good Food Guide awards ceremony. This honour helped put him in contact with top chefs – but that doesn’t mean he can just coast on the win. He still had to go to impressive lengths to convince Ben Shewry to donate a recipe for Two Good.
Rob also runs cooking programs for teen parents, a pop-up soup kitchen for the homeless and eventually hopes to start a farm-to-table restaurant that employs post-drug-rehab patients (with the possibility of big names like Tadao Ando and Martin Benn becoming involved). This is all the more impressive when you consider Rob does all of this in his spare time – he has a day job as an engineer.
We chat about his amazing feats (such as the time a blind, gold-medal-winning skier inspired him to design lights for the visually impaired), as well as Two Good’s upcoming fundraising dinner with O Tama Carey on May 4 at the Community Education and Arts Development, 255 Wilson Street, Redfern. It’s a rare chance to be fed by the one-time winner of Time Out Sydney‘s Chef of the Year award (especially as her upcoming Lankan Filling Station eatery is yet to open). Also, look out for upcoming Two Good events with renowned chefs such as Danielle Alvarez, Jock Zonfrillo, Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman.
You can listen to this episode on iTunes or download it via RSS or directly. And thanks to everyone who has left kind comments about this podcast or even dropped some nice words in the iTunes store – it really makes the late-night editing slogs worth it. Also, thanks to Harriet for her kind comments (and for binge-listening to the archive)!
To keep up with Two Good’s news and events, visit twogood.com.au.
PS If you feel like some bonus reading, here’s my story on Rob that recently ran in Good Weekend.
Photography courtesy of Two Good. Portrait of Ben Shewry and Rob Caslick by Nikki To.