Sydney-based sisters Sammy and Bella Jakubiak quickly realised that their true passion lied in food and cooking — and not in their fashion or marketing jobs — after winning Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules Season 2 in 2011.
Since then the Polish-Australian pair have been busy running their individual catering businesses. Bella has been running Bella’s Feast, which specialises in creating beautiful canapés; while Sammy’s running a catering business Sammy’s Feast and her own burger bar, Sammy’s Burger Bar. Bella is also working on her own range of sauces that she’s calling The Saucy Sisters.
Community Table caught up with the pair over the weekend at the Kings Cross organic food market while they prepared a sneak peak of what they were going to be serving up at the upcoming Sydney Good Food and Wine show.
Who is your inspiration?
Bella: It’s my grandma. I know there are a lot of amazing male chefs out there but what inspires me most are people who feed the world every single day, and most of the time that’s the mums and grandmas. I think they get forgotten about and they don’t really get the respect they deserve. These women are often cooking traditional recipes that have been cooked for generations. Our recipes are not always home style because some of them are technically difficult but I think food should be inclusive and bring people together, and the idea of exclusive food is completely contrasting to what we believe.
Sammy: Mum and grandma are where we learnt how to cook; everything we know starts there. I think growing up in a family that is interested in food, cooking food, and eating together you start to look elsewhere for inspiration like beautiful farmers who grow great produce. Until my mother’s generation, our family was living on farms, growing things organically, and knowing where everything comes from, killing their own beats, and making their own sausages.
What’s in your pantry?
B: I’ve been getting into baking bread recently so the new thing always stocked in pantry is rye flour because rye bread is such a traditional Polish bread. I’ve even been starting to make a Polish soup called Zurek. It’s a soup thickened with sourdough rye starter. and it gives a bit of sourness and it thickens it at the same time; that’s something my mum use to buy because she didn’t know how to but my grandma use to do it properly. It skipped a tradition but I’m bringing it back.
S: I’ve got this balsamic vinegar called Sapa, and it’s sweet, sour and I literally put it on everything. I usually have it with greens tossed with lemon, olive oil.
What’s in your fridge?
S: Recently I bought bottarga, which is a dried mullet roe, but I’ve bought too much and it’s literally been going on everything. It’s like anchovies where it adds a bit of salty flavour and it’s not too fishy.
B: I’m testing some new recipes and I’m planning on launching a range of sauces called Saucy Sister. Right now I have a few versions of a jerk spiced-ketchup, which is basically tomato sauce but with a kick.
Best thing to come out of the microwave
B: Popcorn and sometimes for leftovers.
S: I’m don’t know why but I’m sceptical of a microwave so I only ever put my wheat bag in, and everything else I reheat on the stove. Actually, that’s a lie. I do sometimes use it but only if I have to for leftovers. But I’m not a big leftovers type person because I usually eat it all.
What was your last meal?
S: I had pasta last night with just garlic, olive oil, parsley, and bottarga, and then I also had a salad with my sapa and lemon, olive oil.
B: I didn’t finish work until 11.00p.m and so at 11.30 I got a calzone from Da Orazio.
Where do you like to go for a feed?
S: Up the road from me in Bronte there’s this place called Vacanza and that’s always my go-to, or there’s Eugene’s Café and Three Blue Ducks. I go to them probably like four times a week.
B: To be honest we don’t eat out a lot because there’s always food. We usually don’t get a lot of time to cook at home because we cook commercially, so we just usually take leftovers from work, and we know it’ll taste good ’cause we made it. But I live in Bondi and I go Da Orazio. I also eat a lot of pasta so I love going A Tavola for their pappardelle with ragu. There’s also this place called Drake Eatery and it’s all about sharing plates and using local, sustainable produce, which is a little different for Bondi.
When I’m not cooking, I’m…
S: I go to the gym four or five times a week. I find that’s a good way to start my day. Me and my friends also have a breakfast club, and we recently turned our breakfast club to a dinner club and went to Pinbone.
B: I do yoga five days a week and that keeps my mind, body, and spirit happy.
Butter, margarine, a mix or neither?
(Warning: Rant ahead)
S: It disgusts me every time I go into the supermarket. A very good way to tell what people are eating is if you look at the shelves between 60 to 80 percent are eating margarine. It’s really bad because I think people are still caught up in this whole 1950s marketing of ‘margarine is the benefit for your cholesterol’. My best friend who is a number one advocate for butter, her mother still goes and buys butter but with a combination of oil, which is essentially margarine.
B: People have survived and flourished for thousands of years on butter. A stick of butter a day is bad for you, but certainly a bit of butter is not bad for you. I would very much question what a bit of margarine everyday does to you.
S: Dogs won’t even it; flies won’t even land on it.
B: Even if a dog eat, how as humans can we it, and that’s an animal with instinct for food.
S: The reason why we use a dog as an example is because it still has a primal instinct.
Tools I can’t live without…
S: Digital scale, thermometre, and timer; I think they’re under-utilised and takes the guess work out of everything.
B: A sharp knife. I sharpen my knife every single day, or several times if I’m busy in the kitchen.
Tools I find useless in the kitchen…
B: Garlic crusher. It’s so easy to crush garlic — all you have to do is chop it up, sprinkle a bit of salt on it, and then use the back of a knife to press it down. The other thing is an avocado cutter – why can’t you just use a knife?
Cookbooks I always return to…
S: The Silver Spoon and Larousse Gastronomic, which is always a good basis.
B: Christine Manfield’s Tasting India.