What led to the choice of buying the Old School Café?
Buying the old school was a spur of the moment decision. I saw it in the paper on a Friday afternoon, and bought it at auction on the Saturday morning! Karyn was away, and I sent her a text saying we had a new project. I just fell in love with it. Wongwibinda is such a beautiful spot, and the school and grounds are lovely. Luckily, Karyn agreed! In fact, creating the café was her idea.
It must have been an interesting ride redecorating and renovating the school; what was a stand out moment for you?
We spent two years renovating the school house to turn it into a café and residence. New kitchen, bathroom, verandah seating area, two bedrooms, disabled toilet, painting inside and out and new garden areas – and we did it all ourselves. Karyn has a great eye for design, so I think the whole space works well, but we both agree the kitchen is our favourite. Many of our customers attended the school, and it is always a thrill to see their reaction to the changes.
Do you enjoy cooking; what’s your signature dish?
We both enjoy cooking and both have backgrounds in the food and hospitality industry. The menu changes regularly to take advantage of seasonal produce. Karyn cooks the cakes, desserts and biscuits, while we share the savoury dishes. In summer, Karyn’s big on lighter style dishes like caramelised peach and lamb salad using our own lamb and home grown salad greens with a homemade dressing. My tastes are a little more substantial, so I lean toward things like wild rabbit pot pie cooked with white wine, sage and onions served with a rocket salad.
What dishes are on the menu?
This week’s main meals are:
Beef, wild mushroom and vegetable pot pies with rocket salad;
New England grass fed Porterhouse steak with garlic potatoes and asparagus spears; Lamb koftas with tabouleh, hummus, tzatziki and Turkish bread;
Chicken kebabs with Asian slaw salad and homemade Vietnamese style dressing.
The sweets are:
Greek syrup cake – a great favourite with cream;
Baked lemon cheesecake with berries and cream or ice cream;
We also serve a range of teas, and this month we are serving two excellent African varieties of coffee.
Plans for the future?
Our vision for the café is to provide great food using as many fresh local ingredients as possible. The garden is coming along, and we now produce nearly all our own herbs and salad greens, free range eggs and have a few sheep to provide lamb.
In terms of the property, we are working on establishing native gardens to encourage more small birds. There is also a tennis court and playground for small children and some great short walks, so we hope people will come and enjoy our food and see more of this lovely area.
Phone 6775 8588