From white-collar to Chef whites, James Nathan is a passionate foodie with a desire to help small family farms and producers. Introducing his original concept: Food Orbit, a group of chefs who support local farmers whilst helping consumers understand what they’re eating and where it comes from. Food Orbit’s vision is for every café, restaurant, hotel, school and hospital to have access to locally sourced produce through FoodOrbit.com.
Food Orbit also runs Local Producers Dinners which promotes local farmers and their produce. On the back of the dinner menu there is the name, number and location of where the produce served has come from so diners can go straight back to the source to purchase this produce.
We recently spoke to James about the conception of Food Orbit, his transition from marketing to food and more.
1. What is Food Orbit all about?
Food orbit is changing the global food system. It’s an online platform that connects local farmers and producers with chefs and restaurateurs. It’s about giving local farmers a place to have a profile where they talk about their story and upload their inventory online which then enables chefs to go online and search by produce, location and place to order food for their restaurants.
2. What gave you the inspiration for Food Orbit?
I went through a transition for someone who grew up thinking food was just fuel to someone who loved it. When I came to Australia I noticed what amazing produce there was available locally which seemed unnecessarily difficult to source. After reading about farmers struggling in their industry it seemed like an obvious problem to try and solve.
3. Where do you find the best produce?
From a consumer point of view the best produce is found at your local farmer’s market. It’s a great portal for chefs to find the best produce around. I’d say build a relationship with your local farmers at the markets to really learn about what you’re buying. It’s not the best if it isn’t fresh. I always say there’s no point buying organic vegetables if they’re six days old.
4. Tell us what made you jump from a white-collar shirt to chef whites?
I didn’t want to be a corporate guy sitting behind my desk with great ideas. I didn’t want to turn around in a few years time and see someone living out the idea that could have been mine. I just wanted to be that guy who followed his passion to take that leap.
5. What is your favourite home-cooked meal?
I’d probably say a traditional English Sunday Roast. Slow-cooked roast shoulder of lamb with all trimmings!
6. Top 3 ingredients you can’t live without?
Extra virgin olive oil, avocado, smoked salmon
7. What is your food philosophy?
I’m all about local food and knowing where your food is coming from. I’ve always said you can only make a conscience decision if you know information about what you’re getting and where it’s coming from. Go to your local farmer’s market and support the local famers. Cooking wise, don’t mess around too much and let the flavours speak for themselves.
8. Where is your favourite place to EAT in Sydney?
Currently one of my favourite places is Sefa Kitchen on Bondi Road. It’s a new, small quaint, 30 seater restaurant and it does Turkish and Middle Eastern Cuisine which I am getting more and more in to.
9. Favourite DRINK/cocktail/own creation?
A vodka soda lime. But if anyone put a lychee martini or lychee cocktail in front of me though I couldn’t resist one of those.
10. Best bar/club/place to PLAY in Sydney?
I’m a big fan of The Baxter Inn. It’s always a cool venue to go to after work or for dinner and drinks.