For anyone in the vegan space here in Australia, you will no doubt have had some form of experience with the Smith & Daughters brand.
Whether visiting the restaurant, the amazing deli or perhaps reading one of their quality vegan cookbooks, Smith’s is a Melbourne institution.
Shannon Martinez isn’t just the founder, head chef and all-round hustler, she is the visionary behind the ethos of the place, which is to deliver the highest quality vegan food imaginable. She can now lay claim to doing just this and is becoming one of Australia’s most well-known chefs. We wanted to chat with Shannon in the lead up to her upcoming event Welcome To The Jungle for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.
This amazing plant-based party for the people will be held on Friday 27 March at the Shed X at the Queen Victoria Market and promises lush plantings, florals, delicious plant-based food and drinks, and most importantly be 100% animal free.
Here’s what Shannon had to say about the event.
People will know you from Smith & Daughters + Deli, but what can they expect from you during the MFWF?
I’ll be bringing dishes back from the past, with a Latin-American focus to the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Welcome to the Jungle. That’s how we opened up Smith & Daughters, and we haven’t done that for a while so this is very exciting for me. This time these classics will be upgraded and revamped.
You have always said vegans deserve to eat as well as everyone else, how are the vegans doing these days in your opinion?
Very well. These days vegan can go to pretty much every single restaurant they want and get a high-quality meal, especially in Melbourne. It’s definitely gone from your health-focused cafes to now more serious dining experiences.
What have been some of your most popular dishes over the years & are you working on anything new at the moment?
Pedro Ximenéz Spanish Mushrooms, Spanish Tortilla, Cinnamon and Cardamom Doughnuts and all our sandwiches in our Deli are our biggest sellers. I’m trying (and currently failing) to make my own vegan mortadella.
What is still the biggest hurdle the vegan movement faces (in relation to food) here in Australia
I’d say the stigma, as well as the kick-back from the industry and the government to a point. We need to adjust the way we consume food in this country and globally, and vegan food plays a huge part in that. The meat and dairy industry’s unwillingness to progress and acknowledge that this is a real issue that we are facing is very frustrating.
We are interested in those doing awesome things in the vegan space, who should we interview next?
A representative from Coles or Woolworths to discuss the rise in demand for vegan products in major supermarkets. It would be interesting to see what their perspective is as they are the ones who supply the country with the most food.
You can catch Shannon and a host of other incredible chefs at the Welcome To The Jungle.