The Adventurous Chef – Sarah Glover
Our good friend, the hugely talented outdoors chef and author, Sarah Glover, sat down with us for a chat on one of her many visits to Byron. Find out what inspired Sarah to forge her own unique career as an outdoors chef, what she loves about visiting Byron and her upcoming Fire, Fish and Bamboo Workshop in Brunswick Heads this December…
We’ve had the undeniable pleasure of having you cook for us at The Atlantic, and we can’t wait for that to happen again, but for now, can you take us way back to where your love of food, and cooking, began…
Actually, I was homeschooled, so for me, I didn’t really click with traditional school that well, instead, I naturally gravitated to working with my hands. I’d come home from school and get into the kitchen and start baking. My brothers and I spent a lot of time outside, we felt free there, building cubby houses, going fishing and diving, surfing, whatever we could do to fill our day up. I grew up in Tasmania, we didn’t travel much because travel wasn’t as accessible as it is now. So I’d cook, and I’d go outside and adventure a lot, and when I was 16 I went to Drysdale, the culinary school in Tasmania, to become a chef. At 16 you don’t really know what you want to do, but I knew I didn’t like school and I liked working with my hands and I needed to do something towards my future. So off I went to do my Cert 2 in Commercial Cookery, then went to work for a really successful chef in a boutique restaurant. He was really kind and gentle and even though I didn’t pursue being a full time chef right there and then, I really absorbed that experience and it had a big impact on my life.
The traditional pathway for a chef is quite different to the path you’ve chosen, were you guided by a thirst for adventure as much as you were guided by producing beautiful food?
I was doing all sorts of entrepreneurial things and I liked the idea of owning my own turf, but I saw the restaurant industry as quite overwhelming. I actually wanted to do something to forge the way for female surfing, especially in Tasmania, so I wanted a surfshop for women, with a cafe and workshop. I was always scheming, but for me being a chef, I just felt like there was more calling out to me than being in a restaurant kitchen, at a metal bench under fluorescent lights. I was constantly trying to develop more of myself, more of what it was that I was interested in. I’ve taken the road less travelled and although it’s been lonely at times, I’ve enjoyed it because of the adventure.
You’ve stayed in most of the rooms we have, is there a favourite?
I often stay in the Airstream, which is actually really fun, but my favourite rooms are in The Albatross. It’s the outdoor shower that does it for me.
You’ve taken your cooking to some of the wildest places, in search of the most beautiful local produce, how does the Northern Rivers region stack up in terms of produce?
I feel like I’m only just scratching the surface with my exploration of what this region has to offer but so far, it’s really good, such a huge contrast here to what I get at home in Tasmania. The tropical climate fruits are a highlight for me.
You’ve spent plenty of time in Byron Bay and as a result, know the area better than most, have you got any favourite places to go and hide?
That’s a hard one, there are so many beautiful places, from Cabarita down to Lennox is amazing…I’ll often grab my board and my portable gas cooker and go exploring. I guess for me, the two places that spring to mind as favourites are the back beaches, down to Broken Head, and this won’t be a surprise to anyone, but The Pass is really beautiful and hard to go beyond. The Pass is a magical place.
It’s clear to see that you love having sand between your toes, but you’re also passionate about heading into the bushland, if you had a day up your sleeve, would it be sand in your toes, or soil?
I love the bush, the adventure of going that way, but I would definitely choose the beach, especially when I’m in this area.
You’ve been coming to stay at The Atlantic for a number of years and we love seeing you here, can you remember the first time you arrived, and if so, how you felt about being here?
I do, I remember it clearly. Jason Grant introduced me to The Atlantic actually. I felt really calm and welcome when I stayed for the first time, and I still feel that way when I’m here now. When I’m here, I feel like it’s a blend of inspiration and rest, a nice balance. I was here to do some shooting and other work for my book, WILD Adventure Cookbook. I loved it from the moment I arrived.
We’ve noticed a special bond between yourself and our youngest Atlantic boy, 14 year old Arlo, really like two peas in a pod, tell us what you guys get up to?
Oh, I love Arlo. He’s so curious and passionate about learning and experiencing nature, catching and cooking fish, the ocean. He reminds me so much of myself when I was his age, like we’re friends and I’m in my early teens again. We love fishing in the River up at Riverhawk Ranch, scheming about our Youtube channel, just good fun and a love for experiencing things. I love how the Atlantic boys have been encouraged to do the things that make them happy, fuelling their curiosity for turning things over and making something out of nothing. It’s really fun stuff.
Before we let you go, give us your favourite Byron Bay story.
A favourite story…hmmm. The thing that springs to mind over all else would be something that happened just out of Byron Bay, on Lennox point. I was driving up to Byron with my photographer to shoot some stuff for the book I think and we stopped at the headland there to have something to eat and so I had my little gas cooker and some food, like I always do. It was quite stormy, dark clouds and then out of the blue a huge rainbow appeared above the headland and although it probably doesn’t seem like anything too amazing it was a moment that was really special. Being outdoors, cooking, close to the waves, huge rainbow overhead, it was beautiful.