{Real} Life in Balance: The Real Food Caterer

Those who know me well would be aware that I have often had day-dreams about creating my own little catering business (especially during the years I was ‘pretending’ to work at a corporate job!) So it was with a slight pang of envy that I first heard about Wendy Marinich and her gorgeous little business Me & Mabel – a picnic basket and gift box catering company, utilising food lovingly made from scratch with wholesome ingredients, and served with a vintage garden party feel (captured beautifully by our mutual photographer friend, Jessica Shaver.)

I’m also quite enamoured by Wendy’s ‘New Parent Meal Boxes’ where vouchers can be purchased for fresh, nutritious meals and baked goods to be delivered to the door within the first few weeks of returning home with a new baby. What an amazingly thoughtful gift that would make – and another of those, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ moments!

I’m inspired by Wendy and her approach to food and life. It resonates very much with what we do at Équilibre. So much so, that we have asked Wendy to collaborate with us on an extra special project that we have been working on for some time, and will be revealing very soon. If you’re at all interested in bringing the joy back to eating and exercise, you’ll want to watch out for more details!

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Wendy. I really appreciate your honesty and insight. You are a true Équilibrian!…

Some of the delights from Me & Mabel picnic baskets (using Biopak compostable packaging and recycled glass jars)

1. Favourite flavours? Fennel is an obsession, I love it teamed with orange, apple or even fig. Pork, fennel and apple is a combination I’ll use over a range of cuisines be it soft homemade pulled pork tacos or a more tradition pork belly dish. (Note from Nic: Pascal was won over by these pork dishes alone!)

2. Your approach to food and eating well? Buying from local producers and using ethically treated meats and products is key to me for home and work. Above all the most important thing is to make food from scratch. Knowing what goes into a dish even when it’s lashings of butter is vital to my peace of mind. Slow food is a great term that I think encompasses my approach as it’s not just how I prepare but also how I source ingredients.

I eat and serve real food, from indulgent moments knee deep in chocolate cake to self-righteous green smoothies. What I feel like at the time is what guides my eating and cooking.

3. Cooking style? I’ve described my food as rustic a lot which could just mean I’m not so good at plating or prettying up the edges

4. Signature dish? I don’t cook one style of cuisine particularly better than another but my obsessive nature can have me cooking say Mexican for example for long periods until I feel I’m at a level where I understand the flavours and how they work together.

At the moment my signature dish would most likely use Spencer’s Brook Farm Berkshire Pork because I have become extremely fond of this amazing product and apparently can’t go a week without pulled pork tacos, caramel pork belly or a pork terrine. I guess my signature dish is led by what ingredients are inspiring me at the time…

5. Your ‘saviour’ meal when there’s no time to cook? Definitely a risotto because my children will eat it and even though standing and stirring takes time it’s a labour of love if all the recipients are content.

Monster risotto is my son’s favourite, which is frozen peas, a couple of handfuls of spinach, a dash of cream and a handful of parmesan blended together then folded through a plain risotto base, works ever time.

6. Pantry essentials? Rice in all forms, vanilla extract, chickpeas, a million different flours, raw cacao and oats (because then I know I have breakfast for the kids).

7. What’s in your fridge at the moment?

Organic Grass Fed Beef Mince; Organic Lamb Ribs; Organic Milk (full cream!); Parmesan; Unsalted Butter (I like to know there’s always the option to bake); Fresh Veg.

8. Favourite cookbooks? My new favourite is definitely Jude Blereau’s Wholefood Baking if you don’t have it trust me invest in this one!

David Thompson Thai Street Food best Chicken and Rice recipe!

Favourite reference is probably Maggie Beer’s Harvest for seasonal joy.

9. Magazines and blogs that inspire you? SBS Feast did an issue on picnic food not long after my business came together which was way too perfect! I’m an instagram visual girl, GreenBeen is great as is GourmetGirlfriend for inspiration and mouth watering moments.

10. Coffee or tea? Tea, mainly because the caffeine messes with me.

11. What nourishes you (other than food)? My husband and his continual, unending support with any and all of my crazy ideas like “hey, I’m going to start a picnic basket catering company!” Whenever I need to feel content that everything will be fine he fills the spot perfectly.

12. Exercise plan (if you have one)? After starting my business and moving house in this last year exercise has not been winning the prime spot. But I do little body weight based sessions at home and go for runs when time allows. I’m thinking it may be time to go back to pump classes though, because I’m missing those heavy weight and feeling strong.

13. Your thoughts on body image and how you feel about yours… This is a tricky one for me because I have struggled with my weight on and off for years. I was a consultant for a big weight loss chain and was at my lowest weight a few years ago but I was not content in the lack of focus on my true passion, food. Weight loss can do funny things to a person especially an obsessive person like myself and I lost the love for what makes me happy. My life is so much more balanced and healthy now even though i’m not as thin. I eat real food not diet food and although my jeans are bigger I take solace in the fact that what goes into my body is real and nourishing. Creating every meal makes me so happy because i’m not counting its calories, i’m enjoy every bite and the company i’m in. Eating for me is more than just the food it’s about its origin, the preparation and the people I share it with.

I’d love to say I am truly content with how I look but this is going to take time. Right now I can say i’m happy with where my focuses lie and they are making me happier than I have ever been.

14. I’m craving… Truly always chocolate but good chocolate like Bahen & Co and when I’m feeling a bit more mainstream Oxfam fair trade Belgian milk.

15. I’m looking forward to… Every meal shared with my gorgeous little family. Watching my children growing up and knowing the names and origins of what they are eating. Cooking with my kids and teaching them to respect the work that goes into producing each ingredient, and what we can do with them.

16. Balance – Secret to success? Or myth? The absolute secret to success it’s it! Healthy days, indulgent days, physical days, relaxing days. Balance is where it’s at!

17. Favourite Quote  ‘Eat Real Food’

You can join Me & Mabel on facebook, see more on the website, or contact Wendy at me.and.mabel@gmail.com

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