Working the land is by no means easy, with farmers in our very own backyard battling the unpredictability of nature and its often harsh conditions in order to nurture the crops and stock that grace our plates. To celebrate all the hard work put into the farming process, new West End café Plenty is striving to establish a strong relationship between its customers and where their food is sourced. Having opened towards the end of November last year, Plenty is still in the process of finding its own path forward, although there is a strong vision behind its four walls.
Owner Karyn Hodges is the person behind this particular vision, pushing Plenty further and further with each given day. As a mother of a farmer herself, Karyn’s philosophy behind Plenty is to create more of an understanding and respect for the farmers behind the scenes, battling the arid conditions of country Australia. “My philosophy is about promoting an understanding of how hard it is,” Karyn explains in a telling manner, making obvious some of the battles she has had to face with her family.Living with concern about people developing too great a disparity
between themselves and the food on their plates, Karyn has come to recognise the gap growing between producers and consumers.“We’re people of the land, and people behind computers, developing a disconnect between our lives and the lands,” Karyn explains in a subdued manner, clearly worried. In the hope of reducing, and eventually closing this gap, Karyn sees Plenty as a place where people and produce can come together, through the food; merging local produce, community and available knowledge.
Aiming to involve small-time growers in local areas, on top of promoting Queensland farmers, Plenty is striving to become a valuable part of the local community.“I’d really like this place to be part of the community hub,” Karyn said. Organically growing in the direction where it needs to go, the cafe has expanded significantly since its early stages, with an new open-fronted kitchen allowing for cooking workshops to take place – passing on culinary and produce knowledge. This is all backed by passionate chef Michael Hoare, who has been cooking for more than 21 years. To him, the celebration of seasonal flavours is at the centre of attention. “I let the products speak for themselves,” Michael explains enthusiastically.
With his rustic and real approach, the continually changing menu speaks volumes about the possibilities given by the flavours and textures of the seasonal, local and regional produce.“Doing weekly menus is good; it keeps it interesting for us.” In doing so, Michael is in constant contact with local farmers and producers, seeking the best quality ingredients and lending a helping hand to those in need. “You have to look after your suppliers. Some of them are battlers. We just want to look after the people that come at us,” Michael tells. The end result is a sustainable business model, supporting a sustainable way of living, here in West End.
Words by Keagan Elder | Images by Darlia Argyris