With Antony Perring (Irons and Craig, Yamba)
Irons and Craig is named after our grandmothers Olga Irons and Joan Craig. My nana Joan taught me how to cook. She had me stirring the gravy from when I was eight. I grew up in a big extended grandparent-type family in Grafton. My nana and pop pretty much raised me.
My partner David who owns and runs Irons and Craig with me also had his grandmother Olga living in his house when he was growing up at Palmers Island. Through the cafe we have our late nanas around us all the time.
I’m a self-taught cook. After finishing high school in Grafton I moved away to Canberra for Uni. I’ve worked in retail and publishing, photography and design in Sydney and in Singapore, but for all those years I talked about starting my own café or restaurant. I think David got sick of me talking and decided to give me a push. So in 2013 we returned home to the Clarence Valley to start Irons and Craig.
Irons and Craig is an opportunity for us to work with fresh, local produce. We make everything from scratch, and source everything we can from local growers and suppliers. There’s much more access to good fresh food here than when we were in Sydney, and we make our own preserves that we sell through the café.
We have a vegetable garden out the back of the café and we’re also working with one of our local aged care hostels Caroona to establish edible food gardens for the residents. They’ve all had a garden in the past or they’ve come off a dairy or a cane farm, so they have some fantastic knowledge.
Through the cafe we have our late Nanas around us all the time
Last spring we helped to put in about 16 hay bale gardens and planted seedlings with the residents. We’ve had people who really hadn’t engaged with each other before now outdoors fighting over the hose! A sense of purpose is really what the garden is about. The secondary benefit is the tomatoes and the parsley they can pick to eat or the chokos they can use to make chutney. It’s really good fun. We’d love to see the idea taken up by aged care homes around the country.
Inside info: Irons and Craig
29 Coldstream Street Yamba Open 6am − 12pm Mon to Fri, 6:30am – 12pm Sat & Sun