Regardless whether you've just stumbled upon her or have been following along for a while, it's evident that Carter Were knows her way around food. You may know her via her Instagram account, @werebros, where she shares idyllic imagery of her quiet life in the hills of the Northern Rivers.
This was where I discovered Were's food, at a one-time cafe pop-up she ran at the Federal village hall, and although it was toast, it was a meal I think about often since. There is something about the way Were shares food via social media that feels approachable and wholesome, free of ego and often heavy with tips to help her audience along the way: how to pickle eggs, bread making pointers, and always a quick dinner idea.
Here, we catch up with Were on the creation of her cookbook, her philosophy on food, and isolation with a newborn.
Where are you based right now and how do you spend your days?
Up near Byron Bay. My partner, Jack, and I live 30 minutes into the hills, near a little town called Federal. I spend most of my days looking after my babies Patience (20 months) and Dorothy (4 months).
What is your background with cooking?
Growing up my parents didn't like cooking and they still don't. I didn't have much interest in it either growing up, but I always had a big appetite. My interest in food started when I was 19 and moved to Sydney. I started working at a popular bakery when I realised food made with good ingredients tasted better. Then I went to Greece..
What inspired your cookbook ‘Carter’s Cookbook’? Are the dishes based on any theme in particular or was it more of a collection of your favourites?
My twin sister and I have always wanted to work on something together. She's a photographer and clothes designer in New Zealand. We wanted to work on something that we could have forever and look back on when we are old. She has taken all the photos in the book and we worked on it over a few years whenever we were together, in between me having a baby.
There's no theme to the book, it's just simple recipes I like to make. We want the book to be used, taken with you on holidays, written on what you would change and it doesn't require any fancy kitchen equipment.
What is your approach to cooking and eating?
I just make what I feel like eating. I like all types of food. But as the babies get bigger and time is limited my cooking is very simple. Jack grows vegetables and fruit for us, so I'm often inspired to make food with what we have. I'm more creative that way.
What inspires the way you make food?
Jack's garden and travel.
When you’re not cooking at home, where are you eating in your area?
There's a great Japanese cafe down the road called Doma. At the markets, a great food stall called The Nomadic Kitchen. A cute cafe in Brunswick Heads called Ethel. A good fish and chip shop in Brunswick Heads called starfish. In Byron, The Roadhouse for pizzas. There's more, but we've just been staying at home to eat mostly.
When do you feel most at home?
When we are all at home together! Sounds strange but travelling so much last year made me miss my home!
When do you feel most nourished?
I just had a massage and I don't think I've felt that nourished since the birth of my first baby nearly two years ago. But usually, a hot shower and a bowl of pasta and glass of wine.
What has isolation looked like for you and your family?
To be honest, I find being a mama pretty isolating anyway! But I had my second baby just before the isolation period so we have pretty much stayed home for the first 4 months of Dorothy's life. In some ways it has been hard, but in others it has been good. Jack has not been able to travel (for work) so that has been very lucky for me and the girls.
With Patience, we travelled all over the world with her as a baby and never had a routine.
With Dorothy, we will be staying here for the first year of hers and I have been able to get into a bit of routine with her (so far) which makes me feel a little more grounded.
I cooked lots but I always cook lots.
I miss my family terribly though. They're all in New Zealand and had trips planned over here.
What are you looking forward to this year?
We are setting up a studio on our property as accommodation and it is called The Banana Shed. After spending a lot of time in different Airbnbs around the world, we have thought about what we would like in our dream Airbnb, so that's what it'll be.
Although it's very basic, it has everything you need and is family friendly. It has sharp knives, cooking equipment, comfy beds, campari and soda in the fridge, coffee, tea, milk and fresh bread (if you want it). We are excited.
I’m also looking forward to seeing my family from NZ, hopefully this year!
What would be your last meal?
Bread, pasta and a negroni to start!
Image credits: @werebros