Michelle and Rob Costanzo in their kitchen at Crabbes Creek, where they prepare for their weekly farmers’ market stalls. Photo: KATE O’NEILL
Michelle and Rob Costanzo in their kitchen at Crabbes Creek, where they prepare for their weekly farmers’ market stalls. Photo: KATE O’NEILL

Paddock to plate: Siblings pay homage to local farmers

AT LOCAL farmers' market food stall The Nomadic Kitchen, chef Rob Costanzo works with the simplest of set ups: A gas camp stove, a few fry pans and utensils, some chopping boards and knives and a plastic tub for washing up.

It's a far cry from the multi-million kitchen at London's Michelin-starred River Cafe where he once worked, but as far as Rob is concerned, shiny stainless steel benches and ovens are far less important than the produce you work with.

"You don't need much. You have to have good produce and that's about it," he said.

Rob's passion for good food made with local, seasonal produce is thanks in part to a childhood spent on the family farm at Stanthorpe, where food on the table came straight from the garden. "Every meal was a celebration of the food and the people who grew it," he said.

Rob and sister Michelle's food stall recreates this, paying homage to local farmers and their hard work.

What's in season and available at the market provides the inspiration for Rob's breakfast menu, which changes week to week.

The food he prepares is simple, rustic and inspired by his Sicilian heritage, with dishes like omelette with roasted capsicum and bay leaf and feta, bruschetta with roasted tomato and mushroom, or green beans braised with herbs and chilli on sourdough toast.

Adjacent to their stall, Rob and Michelle sell fruit from the family farm - crisp, sweet apples, grapes and pears in autumn and cherries, plums and apricots at Christmas time.

Nothing goes to waste, and excess fruit is turned into preserves, jams and sauces, that Michelle uses in her cakes, pastries and desserts.

Cooking at the farmers' market is a dream job for Rob and Michelle, who love the direct connection it allows them to have with their customers and local farmers.

"You get to interact with the people who are actually growing the food," says Michelle, "and they're so excited about seeing what you make from the produce that they've put their heart and soul into."

> Find The Nomadic Kitchen at the Mullumbimby and New Brighton farmers' markets.

For a delicious recipe courtesy of chef Rob Costanzo, see today's issue of The Northern Star.



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