Last week I was lucky enough to meet Belinda Jeffrey and interview Serge Dansereau, two hugely popular chefs and cookbook writers who, like many of Australia’s finest cooks, understand the importance of eating seasonally. As well-known chefs/authors of cookbooks, they have influenced the way we think about food.
Serge and his new book French Kitchen
 Dansereau, who owns the Bather’s Pavillion in Sydney has changed the face of fresh food in NSW, sourcing all local and in-season ingredients for his restaurant, and encouraging others to do likewise. Dansereau remarked that our society has become programmed to expect every food type to be available at all times year round, and that we forget the strain this puts on the environment. “I say to people, if garlic is not in season, then, maybe, don’t eat garlic at that time of year.” Serge’s next book will be ‘Seasonal Kitchen’, a popular theme at the moment in cookbooks. “It’s not an intuitive thing, is it, to eat seasonally?” I asked, knowing full well my own ignorance of all but the very basics.
“Not in Australia,” he says. “But you know, if you can see it’s an imported food, a US cherry, then it’s been imported because it’s not in season here.”
Serge is one of the ambassadors for Greenpeace and Truefoods, opposing GM Foods. “There really is no place for GM foods in my kitchen,” he is quoted as saying on . He says that his real wakeup call came when he went back to visit his parents who live outside of Montreal, and all of the fields had changed. Discussing the changes with a farmer, he discovered that instead of continuing with the rotating fields of varying crops which had been traditional, the farms had become monocultures growing GM corn for biofuels. He shrugs, “The farmers get paid more, you know, so they’re going to do that.”
You can read the full interview online here
Belinda Jeffrey is just as keen on eating seasonally. Living in rural New South Wales she has access to a wealth of farmed foods and others, like grapefruit which just flood in from her neighbours in the hope that she will make them all marmalade. Her new recipe book, the Country Cookbook, is also a journal of her early years in Mullumbimby, learning to cook with the seasons, to enjoy her kitchen garden and live at a different pace (though it seems that Jeffrey keeps herself very busy helping out at soup kitchens and organising film nights with themed cuisine for the locals). The book is laid out in months, which is very useful if you’re trying to decide what to eat tonight and aren’t up to date on what’s in season! So far I've only had time to make her goat's cheese and capsicum roulade, but it was quite mind-bogglingly good (if I say so myself) - even though I left out a few of the ingredients!