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Slow Food Review

December 8, 2009

Craig Macindoe is head chef and owner of MuMu Grill in Crows Nest. MuMu has a strong focus on sustainable produce, and specialises in grass-fed beef. You can keep up with Craig in MuMuLand, or by following him on Twitter.

I decided to focus on local producers… in the beginning as a way to differentiate our business from others. I wanted also to create a future based business, something that would be relevant for the near, to medium future. But it has since grown into a personal passion.

Originally, I looked into grass fed beef led by Vicki Poulter (a friend and Weston Price devotee). I thought I would try grass fed beef and see what she was talking about. After tasting the beef I was sold, this was going to be our point of difference – 100% grass fed beef. All the rest of the menu has evolved around that.

While devoting our menu to sustainability I learnt more about the “Facts”:

Fact 1. Ruminants that live of grass are healthier and they produce far healthier beef. High omega 3 fatty acids, high concentrations of CLAs, high concentration of good fats.

Fact 2. Sustainable farming produces better flavoured animals.

Fact 3. Sustainable farming keeps boutique farmers and farm families alive.

It has been an interesting road talking to the farmers and getting to know the difficulties they face as well as sharing in their passion for the food they produce.

When we first opened the restaurant we were getting the vast majority of our product from distributors but over time we have managed to deal directly with the producers. It has meant we have had to change things we do but it is worth it to get the quality and the affordability we require.
Our food is different because we don’t muck around with it too much. We focus on simple food, sourced from producers who practise sustainable farming.

Our food is different because… we don’t muck around with it too much. We buy top quality product and we treat it simply. We focus on simple food, sourced from producers who practise sustainable farming. We serve a lot of slow cooked meals, allowing the food to maintain nutritional integrity and also have magic flavour.

Also our food is by nature healthier for the customer.

Demand in the current economic climate is… soft. I would say that we are trading well under what I would have expected for our 2nd year. We are growing, so that is a positive, but the overall demand is soft. I am not complaining – we just have to work harder for our clients. I would say that having sustainability as our point of difference has kept our business growing in these difficult times.

The most satisfying thing about sourcing, preparing and serving local food is… the interaction with the producers. I love speaking to the people at the fruit and veg markets about their farms or hearing about what’s going on down at Arcadia salt bush lamb.

The biggest frustration about the restaurant business is… staff who sometimes don’t share your passion. But having said that, staff are also some of the best things about the restaurant business.

The best meal I’ve eaten this year was… at Meadowbank winery in Tasmania. We ate the entire menu. On the menu all the food has food miles which is a great idea. It may have had something to do with all their wine we consumed, or how friendly the staff were. It was truly a memorable experience.

My most treasured food/wine memory is… eating in “Signore” on the banks of the Largo De Garda in Italy in the town of Sirmione. This was on my honeymoon so perhaps I feel a natural love of this meal… Jamon Iberico de Bellota every where in Spain… A 7 course meal I ate in a great restaurant in Parma… The first time we ate at Café de Stasio… 1969 Bollinger RD at my mate’s 21st… Cheese eaten from the back of the car at Portsea when we had just bought it in Millawa… Scallop pies in Tasmania… Lobster spaghetti in Mondelo… There are so many treasured food and wine memories!

Slow Foodies should check out…

The most important thing about the sustainable food movement is… that it generates and releases information to combat the lies that are told about the food most people eat. Most of the world’s problems would be solved if people spent time creating food from scratch, with love: Less obesity, more focus on family, less exposure to processed foods, less illness.
Most of the world’s problems would be solved if people spent time creating food from scratch, with love.

If Slow Food members could do one thing to make food and wine in Sydney better, cleaner and fairer, it would be to… support the businesses that are sending out the ideals of Slow Food.

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