Chef-cum-author back but sibling off to cater to well heeled

Creative siblings Emma and Ben Galloway are back in town after successful stints in Oz – though only chef turned blogger and author Emma’s set to stay and “chill”, while her shoemaker younger brother returns to Melbourne this weekend.

Ben jokes that half his brain’s still back there, and he’s keen to get a shoemaking workshop-cum-studio aimed at the well heeled up and running after topping his custom-made footwear course last year at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

“I want to keep practising my new tricks,” he told the Chronicle last week while visiting his sister.

Emma on the other hand – after five years in Perth – was busy settling back into her Cross Street home along with Vietnamese-Australian husband Si and their children Aida, 9, and Kye, 7.

“Now we want to chill,” she said, pleased to be living back close to the water and able to relax a little with her second cookbook completed and set to be launched in April. “I love it here … it’s home (to me).”

Emma and Ben were born and bred in Raglan and went to the local area school, but the 30-somethings have taken quite different creative pathways – Emma as an acknowledged gluten and dairy-free blogger and cookbook author, and Ben as a shoemaker aspiring to the high end of the strongly Italian-influenced Melbourne market.

There was no shortage of sibling banter and rivalry last week as the pair chatted about where their careers were at. Emma was miffed she’d missed out on her brother’s giveaways on his ‘Trash Footwear’ Facebook page last week – “a little perk for my followers”, he quipped – but reckoned she’d get some of his bespoke shoes for free further down the track.

Ben muttered something about that costing her $800, prompting  Emma to offer to trade him a cookbook for a pair. “Or you can come and cook for me,” he offered hopefully.

But Emma’s sights are set on something more in the line of food shows, despite three local job offers since her return a month ago. Her blogs and book of the same name, ‘My Darling Lemon Thyme’, have turned her into quite the celebrity chef.

She can also hardly wait to start a veggie garden in her own backyard again, and to grow the seasonal produce highlighted in her second cookbook.

And she’s already talking her “next” publishing venture.  Her third will have a “different angle”, she says, whereas the cookbook about to be launched is a carry-on from ‘My Darling Lemon Thyme’ with the easy kind of recipes people wanted more of.

Emma reveals it took a year to get a publishing deal once she’d moved to Australia. The gluten and dairy-free recipes she had initially devised to deal with her own children’s intolerances were “too specialised”, she was told initially.

In the end it was Aussie/Kiwi publisher HarperCollins which approached Emma via her popular mydarlinglemonthyme.com blog. The company’s also behind her latest book.

Cooking and writing back here in Raglan where she started will be “interesting”, says Emma, who used to pick up about 10 gluten-free flours from four different outlets in Hamilton.

Now she thinks our two small supermarkets, The Herbal Dispensary and Whaingaroa Organic Kai or WOK – along with Bin Inn Dinsdale, a “goddam amazing” old haunt – can provide all the specialist supplies she needs.

Ben however just “hasn’t learnt enough yet to stay” in Raglan, he reckons.

He came home just before Christmas for a bit of a holiday and to “help the old fella out”, as he puts it, down at the wharf where Rob still makes and sells Soul shoes 40-odd years after starting his unique leatherwork business.

A few years back Ben started his own offshoot business here – ‘Trash Footwear’ uses salvageable or recycleable materials rather than leather only – but he wanted more.

Now a wider, more discerning world is at his feet thanks to a 10-month slog at the Melbourne institute. Ben says he learnt that a shoe can be a work of art – from design and pattern-cutting through to sizing and presentation.

The aim is to make something “fancy”, he adds, to become a bespoke shoemaker.

Emma and Ben say they’ve had a ball being home together, and going to last month’s Soundsplash music festival.

“The lifestyle here…” Emma sighs. “You just can’t beat it.”

Edith Symes

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