From globetrotting private chef to home-grown hero

Aug 17, 2023

Like many chefs, Mishy Powell has led an extraordinary life cooking around the globe. Earlier this year, she settled in Surry Hills, feeding and nurturing her local community with a focus on nutrition, environment, and affordability at lunch venue Mishy’s. Food writer Richard Cornish finds out how she made the transition from jetsetting to home cooking.

Q: How was life as a private chef?

A: I went to cook for a family for a six-week working holiday in Greece and stayed with them for five years. We moved between the UK, Switzerland, and Greece. We were close to the Aegean and had a farm and kitchen garden there. I was limited in what I could cook, but it taught me the importance of cooking with what is in season. There were figs I used as a marinade for chicken, and I turned into barbeque sauce. I cooked goat and lamb on the bone – there is so much more flavour and nutrition.

Q: You’re really into nutritious food.

A: There is so much cheap, ultra-processed food around that is doing us harm. Ingredients like canola oil cause inflammation. So, I concentrate on food that is really nutritious. Some people who eat healthy consume the same few foods over and over. We need to eat a broad and diverse range of foods.

Q: Tell us about Mishy’s.

A: It is so many things. It started as my commercial kitchen for my Naturally Sauced condiments. It had a grease trap, range hoods, three-phase power and this amazing space. I had a vision of a place that connects community with great food. We do coffee, but it is not a café. We have a lunch menu and a range of grab ‘n’ go meals. All my packaging is compostable at home or recyclable. There is also a great space for 24 for private dining. I’m opening on Thursday nights for local’s dinners. I get so much joy cooking great food and watching good people enjoy it.

Q: What is an example of lunch?

A: We have a salad of ancient corn and quinoa pilaf, and for some crunch, there is some salt-baked sweet potato and some tomato salsa as a high note and avocado for richness. Ninety percent of the dishes are vegetarian. Customers can add some sashimi grade tuna poached in olive oil or 12-hour braised grain-fed beef brisket as a supplement.

Q: How to keep your reputation for affordable prices?

A: I go to the Sydney Markets in Flemington first thing in the morning and buy whole boxes of produce direct. I can save 30-40% on ingredients by cutting out the middleman. I built a cool room to store the fruit and veg. I can pass those savings on to customers. It is so important to have nutritious food, but it has to be affordable.

Mishy’s opens from 7am to 3pm weekdays at 113 Reservoir St in Surry Hills.

You can watch Michelle Powell at Fine Food Australia on 14 September at The Source Kitchen stage. Session: Pack a Punch with Nutrition and Flavour

Register free now to watch this session and many more.

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