For four decades north-siders have made the weekly pilgrimage to the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, to peruse the rows upon rows of some of the freshest produce you can find in Canberra and the surrounding region.
One step into the markets and all your senses are ignited. A stroll through the space uncovers every colour imaginable; from the bright and shiny reds, greens and yellows of the fruit and veg; to the darker, marbled tones of succulent meats and sauces.
Sounds of goodies being packaged, friendly traders yelling ‘come get your fresh lemons!’ and a constant murmur of happy customers creates a bustling atmosphere, while your lungs are filled with the aroma of roasting coffee, freshly-baked bread and blooms from the florist.
All these ingredients combine to create the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets in which we all know and love, but what many of us may not know is that it’s so much more than a place to buy your groceries. It’s a dining destination in itself, boasting a variety of cafes, bakeries and eateries.
Let OutInCanberra take you on a journey through our series of articles that reveal the hidden gems of the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets – the perfect place to take a break from shopping, catch up with family and friends, and grab a coffee or bite to eat.
Being healthy is made simple at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, with certified-organic dining options and an onsite cooking school to learn how to maintain a nutritious lifestyle with new-found skills and recipes at home.
Tucked away in the far end of the markets is Foodish cooking school. A must-visit for any cooking enthusiast, Foodish celebrates bringing people together over a love of food
Running a broad range of cooking classes, Foodish is always introducing new themes to keep with the seasons and current cooking trends. It offers unique cooking experiences for every special occasion and is also a great activity for corporate team bonding and celebrations.
“We mostly run cooking classes so that people can learn to cook, as opposed to learning how to cook ‘gourmet’,” owner Alaine Chanter says.
“We really love engaging with community groups as well, we’ve done classes for kids with diabetes and Carers ACT, as well as for the general public.”
The Foodish team of qualified and highly-skilled chefs have a wealth of culinary experience in Australia and beyond.
After her career as a university academic, Alaine decided to switch roles and enroll as a student at CIT to train as a chef and pursue her personal love for cooking.
“After that I always wanted to cook something nice for dinner and then of course now, here we are, with Foodish in its fourth year and nearing the end of our first year located at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets,” she says.
“I am a passionate educator and I’m also passionate about food so it was a natural fusion.”
Foodish’s spring and summer masterclasses take place on Monday evenings and are scheduled to begin in September. The hands-on classes feature fresh and colourful flavours covering themes including tapas, canapes, sushi and tempura, summer Thai, Christmas seafood paella, and lots more. There are also dessert classes, including how to make macarons, petit fours and iced Christmas gateaux. If you can’t wait until September, this month Foodish is holding an exciting new three-part series Traditional Chinese Banquet class, taught by Chinese-Australian master chef David L, on 22 and 29 August, and 5 September.
There are also Thai Curries classes to celebrate the end of winter on 23 and 30 August. In these classes you learn to make four types of curry paste and transform them into flavoursome curries.
The slogan of Foodish is ‘connecting through cooking’ and that’s reflected in its philosophy of it being just as much about the relationships you form when you cook together.
“I can’t think of a more creative, nurturing way to form relationships between people than through cooking together. It’s a universal language,” Alaine adds.
“I love seeing the faces of people when they are cooking. When they make something delicious and realise that it’s not actually that hard and maybe they could do it themselves at home – that is just priceless. The joy is just wonderful.”
As Nature Intended
As Nature Intended is a fully organic shop, divided into three different sections: organic-certified fruit and vegetables, the coffee shop and other commodities including organic beauty products.
The shop has called the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets its home for 12 years and is a one-stop shop for all your organic and whole food needs. It’s also a great destination to enjoy breakfast or lunch in it’s outdoor seating area which capitalizes on the sunlight in the warmer months.
Dairy-free, gluten-free or intolerant to a number of grains? That’s not a worry for As Nature Intended, with many menu options catering for all of the above and more, including vegetarians, vegans, paleo and allergies. There’s also a colourful selection of tasty organic and raw cakes in the cabinet to tempt the sweet tooths out there!
“I’ve always loved health and hated all the chemicals and pesticides used in conventional produce, and I’ve been organic for the past 45 years. I’ve always wanted to have my own business that celebrates organic,” owner Beatta Wilder explains.
From the way her face lights up it is clear that organic is more than just a lifestyle for Beatta, it’s a passion that runs deep for as long as she can recall.
“We use all the produce and items from our shop to make everything on the menu – it’s a cycle, and we educate and teach customers to understand what ‘organic’ really means,” she says.
“Many people think that if it’s grown in the ground in your backyard then it’s organic, but that’s not the case.
“Organic means there is no chemicals and to be ‘certified organic’, produce needs to be tested every four to five months and you need that certification to label yourself as organic.”
Beatta describes that the difference in taste is just amazing. Don’t believe her? Why not try it for yourself and compare the taste and texture of an organic avocado to a regular one. It’s just phenomenal and believe me, you’d be surprised!
“We have a real community feel in here. I know all our customers – I know their names, their story, their kids,” Beatta laughs.
“We also support the broader community here too through many charities including The Orangutan Project.”
If you’re after a guilt-free meal while supporting local organic growers, then As Nature Intended is just the place for you. Come and make yourself at home in one of its cozy dining nooks, among the books, cushions and crochet blankets, or savour one of it’s many hearty dishes and watch the day go by.