So many people involved in the production of good food – whether its farming, value-adding, cooking and/or selling, have one thing in common, and that’s bravery. And tenacity. Ok, two things. To go out on your own and invest your time/dreams and self in a farm, kitchen, shop or agri-business is real backbone stuff. You have to be steady and strong to stay the course, variables be damned.
I see this in my own farmer-husband every day and all the others I’ve profiled here on the blog in its tine. And the lovely green-thumb pictured above is no different. Actually of course she is different, we’re all unique etc etc…but Jacinta Carmichael-Parissi, newly minted owner of the Blue Mountain’s soon-to-be-opened Lyttleton Stores, has backbone and then some.
Lyttleton Stores is set to open within the month, its location a lovely slip of historic shops just by the Great Western Highway at Lawson. I’ll let Jacinta explain what it’s all about in her own words because they’re much more succinct than mine, but first will just say that I am so excited about this new venture, can’t wait to collaborate in some, any way with her and if I was wearing a hat right now I’d take it off and bow to her for taking this big fat step into the Blue Mountains food scene.
I visited Jacinta in Lawson recently and loved seeing the work in progress. It’s going to be a gorgeous space, so come on locals, visitors and everyone – lets give the Lyttleton Stores nothing but big love…
Jacinta, can you explain to us what you are creating here? What will be on offer when you throw open the doors, and when will that be?
Lyttleton Stores is a long time dream coming to fruition where life and work are combined by doing all the things I love, and sharing them with the Blue Mountains community. My love of organic home grown food and artisan made wares, learning and teaching are the heart of this project, resulting in three intertwined shop fronts named Atelier, PanTree Produce & Preserve;
PanTree Produce is an organic grocery store. We aim to make many of our own products and grow much of our own produce, and are currently making plans for a beautiful big kitchen to compliment our growing garden. We will also supplying our customers with other amazing local and Australian producers. We will sell organic seasonally available fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers, kitchen essentials such as organic eggs and breads, dairy and organic meat as well as beautiful hand made treats and baked goods. We will stock many organic dry goods and herbs, along side oils, vinegars and local honey.
Atelier is a store that will be full of artisan made wares. We will have on the shelves furniture, jewellery, ceramics, glassware, fabric pieces, leather ware all with a focus on functional, beautiful and environmentally responsible hand made pieces. We hope to have some of our artisans staff the shop in time, so it will be a great way to meet the makers and hear from them directly about the stories behind their work.
Preserve is a workshop space where sharing, learning and teaching happens within a beautiful old building that has a gorgeous garden to lunch together in, and a cosy fireplace for winter time. We will be teaching art, craft, cookery & gardening workshops that are both full day one-offs on the weekends and also term long mid week class courses. Each workshop will be hosted by us with guest teachers from all over, most of which will be our featured suppliers in the stores.
We are looking at opening mid November, but no promises! Look to www.lyttletonstores.com.au for updates on when we have confirmed a date.
Why the move from Tasmania to the Blue Mountains?
I grew up here in Lawson, and after being away for the past 12 years between traveling, living in Sydney and Tasmania, I have finally found my way back having learned much along the way. I regularly visit my property in Tasmania where there is a little olive grove, rolling pastures and a hundred acres of bush walks to create and explore. I and have many friends, family and food & art industry contacts that I intend to include in this new project, many of whom I hope to get up here to teach workshops! There are many similarities between southern Tasmania and the Blue Mountains, but enough differences to be able to inspire and learn from each other.
Can you give us a bit of your background too? What did you study and how did you find yourself doing what you are doing today!?
I have always been very creative, productive and over-enthusiastically aspiring, described by my papa as ‘the sails’ of the ship of dreamers, as I can get carried away! I have owned and operated an organic food business since 2010 – making, retailing and wholesaling products, and also expanded to catering and events.
My last project involved creating events based around the Huon River in Tasmania, paddock to plate dining showcasing local produce from in and around the river in a series called ‘The River’s Table’. This project culminated in a summer season of Sunday sailing on an historic Danish Tall Ship named the Yukon, creating 5 course degustation meals with matching local wines to the accompaniment of celebrated local musicians.
I have been working in the hospitality since early high school doing both customer service and commercial cookery, starting my career at the Deli Cafe right here in in Lawson! Since then I have working in many cafes, restaurants, market stalls and organic food stores.
I studied Furniture Design at Utas, completing a BFA in 2011, and have worked on personal and commission pieces since. Currently I have some designs I’d like to do in collaboration with other artisans such as my sister Adelina, and we are setting up a new studio locally in order to get making again! I work mainly in timber, but also have included metal, enamel, glass and paint in my designs.
What are you hoping to achieve with this new venture?
This project has been in development for over a decade, and the intention has always been to explore and share ideas around creating/expanding a sustainable community by bridging the gap between producer and consumer. I am hoping to bring what I have learned from my experience of living and learning in Tasmania to this project, reconnecting to the community up here and making my life full of beautiful honest work that I love to do and feel passionate about. Also to share the opportunity for others with similar values to make a living selling their produce, wares and knowledge with customers who are interested in living and shopping responsibly.
How would you describe your approach to food and cooking?
My approach to cooking stems from my upbringing, my mother being passionate about healthy organic and home grown produce and my father being a delicious Italian cook who taught me all of our family recipes. My food is often inspired by locally available seasonal produce, filled with herbs and the natural flavours of vegetables and meat stocks. I love to bake and have a real sweet tooth! I often make up recipes as I go, using the general formulas and flavour pairings I know work well together, and also experiment with what I think might go well together – which often results in wonderfully unexpected delicious moments along side plenty of failed over-creative attempts that I learn from. Luckily I have quite a perfectionist streak and always test my recipes on family and friends before sharing them with the world!
My family, my garden and my foodie friends are my main influences, and I am inspired by the current trend of many chefs who are cooking with unusual ingredients including native and wild food and who are really connecting with the provenance of their produce. Some Tasmanian chefs and cooks who inspire me include Michelle Crawford, Matthew Evans, Jay Pattey, David Moyle, Luke Burgess, Jo Cook and all the ladies (past and present) at The Lotus Eaters Cafe.
Which other cooks, growers, retailers and food-loving people are you inspired by at the moment?
From Tasmania I have many food influences! Jilly Middleton of Twelve Trees Farm, Paulette and Matt from Provenance Growers, Fork & hoe Collective, Harvest feast, FIMBY, Hans and Esther of Tongola goats cheese, Elgaar Dairy, Warwick from Dover Bay Mussels and many small scale & backyard growers too. Locally I am just meeting new cooks and producers, but I get a whole lot of inspo from Epicurean Harvest who are organic farmers in Blackheath. I love what the big city folk Cornersmith do with their cafe & deli and Fermentary in Marrickville. I love following many Instagram accounts of people I have never met but are very inspiring including Harvest Cafe near Byron Bay, Milkwood Permaculture, Locavore Cafe, Terra Madre, Flour Water Salt bakery, Ozharvest, Brae Restaurant, Tamsin’s Table and many many more.
And could you list please, your favourite places to eat, play and shop here in the Blue mountains?
I love the Everglades & Norman Lindsey Gallery to play, Nineteen22 & Vesta to eat, The Avalon for nostalgia and the amazing ship-shaped bar, Cortardo for coffee, Faulconbridge Antiques, the Pink Flamingo, Teddy Sinclair , Bespoke & Found and Mrs Peel for shopping.
What books, blogs or magazines do you go to when in need of inspiration?