My entrée into cookery was accidental, or so I thought. Whilst I obsessed as a small child over the few rudimentary cooking shows of my youth I wanted to be a Barrister at Law. Even the production of my own cooking show – mud pies in an American accent (get the picture) – didn’t convince me of what has become my greatest love affair: controlled spoilage!
And so…after leaving home suddenly (it’s complicated), unable to complete my exams despite my marks which had me heading to the University of NSW in a Bachelor of Laws, I found a job on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst making shitty coffees with ‘opera’ house cappuccino foam. Those were the days when the height of your barista career prospects was measured by the height of your foam; I was going places.
In my ever-present restlessness, I wanted something more, with more skill, more focus. Before I knew it – and after spending way more time in the kitchen asking the Cook all sorts of questions about the dishes he would prepare than a barista could justify – I took his job after he suddenly quit. It turns out I had learnt the menu and recipes in my annoying and persistent quizzing.
That’s how I became a cook. Fast forward 7 years of working in many establishments and seeking out better and better ones my increased skill set would allow. Alas, the night shifts and 2am dinners at The Golden Century Chinese restaurant with other chefs was not for me. I am a lark after all and rise with the birds. The next chapter was fateful and would change the course of my career forever.
All my customers over the years – from chefs, to retailers, to farmer’s market and CHOP SHOP clients – love getting the story of the farm and artisan producers. I built relationships of trust in my selection of produce, of shared knowledge of breeds, ethical farming practices and clean, small batch artisanal production.
My working life has sought to celebrate local farming, artisanal butchery, cheese making, food harvesting and wonderful cookery with my collective of kindred spirits.
Today, CHOP SHOP carnivorium continues to supply high end retail with pastured, preservative free, retail ready smallgoods. My new focus is on my business COMRADE, an agency for producers where we facilitate direct relationships with retail outlets, subverting the middle man and creating, developing and encouraging arrangements between producer, farmer and retailer and restaurant.
I’ve been annoying, quizzing, researching, visiting, collaborating with, representing and chasing producers and farmers ever since that fateful day when I became a cook. The law is on hold.
Melinda shares her insights for judging smallgoods for the Australian Meat Industry Council.
Melinda reviews "A place for sophisticated eating for devout worshippers of food and art" for whyathens.com.
A recipe from "At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well" by Amy Chaplin.
Jean Marie visits Eveleigh markets and his "...favourite "charcutière", Melinda Dimitriades, owner of Chop Shop Carnivorium. Best saucisson in Oz by far!".
A foodie blog that aims to "save the world, one meal at a time" visits CHOP SHOP Carnivorium.
Featured in Artisan Modern magazine. Read the full article here: https://artisanmodern.com/farmgate/
Featured in an article about finding the best deli goods in Sydney. Read the full article here: https://www.broadsheet.com.au/sydney/food-and-drink/article/delicatessen
With Libbi Gorr in ‘This Weekend Life’. Episodes 2nd and 9th January 2021.