And the final guest speaker at our Books on the Menu event was a legend of Orange F.O.O.D. Week. Rhonda Doyle had everyone chuckling at her memories of growing up in North Queensland and feeling sophisticated drinking Blue Nun.
Rhonda has a passion for food and wine and organised the first Winters' Feast which led to F.O.O.D. Week as we know it today. Husband Stephen taught himself to make wine and they moved to Orange to start Bloodwood, one of the first vineyards in the district.
Rhonda told of growing in North Queensland with a food obsessed Dad. “The first recipe I recall is a cheesecake with condensed milk and lemon juice, then apple pies which were made from pineapples. And apple juice was added to lime juice make a cheap lemon tarts.”
The first cookbook I bought was Margaret Fulton. I was also interested in Asian cooking and had many Chinese friends. I used Charmaine Solomon as a reference book. I was interested to see her cook once but I was surprised about what she cooked and then I thought what would I have done?. “I'm always thinking what spices can you leave out – I think you get into trouble by adding more all the time.”
Rhonda also mentioned Peter Gilmour's latest book Quay which is beautifully presented and a work of art. She is currently reading Real Food by Mathews Evans (pictured) and “so far I'm only halfway through.”
Now Rhonda is helping young families on low incomes learn cooking skills – easy things such as potato salad and “spag bol” as part of the Slow Food group.
She said someone once wrote that 20 years ago there were no such thing as local cuisine in Orange. We had a couple of jars of pickled walnuts, some jams, 3 wineries and the advice was just give it a go an see what happens. And here we are.
Thank you Rhonda, for a very informative and entertaining talk. Rhonda also received a spontaneous round of applause from the large audience after a guest called out “thank you for all you have done”.