Truth, Love, & Clean Cutlery: A Guide to the Truly Good Restaurants and Food Experiences of Australia is part of a world first guide series to ethical and sustainable restaurants. Edited by renowned Australian food writer Jill Dupleix, each experience within promises to be not only delicious - but good for the conscience.
The compilation is a pleasure to behold. Flipping through the pages of TL&CC: Australia, my mouth waters and my curiosity is intrigued; a communal motorcycle workshop and ramen bar? A restaurant named Doot Doot Doot?! Sign me up. Glossy images of prosciutto, caviar, lush leafy greens and octopus beckon to the reader. Lotus root, salmon, fried eggs, places where “in truth, the diners. . .probably travel further than the food” (TL&CC: Australia, pg. 58).
To be considered, restaurants and dining projects are judged from a broad criterion. They may specialise in treating their workers exceptionally well, using plant-based dishes, reducing carbon emissions, running closed-loop zero waste operations, or using local and seasonal ingredients to name a few. Many of the game-changing restaurants included in TL&CC incorporate several.
In Truth, Love, & Clean Cutlery, editor Jill Dupleix aims to marry these values of customers and producers, allowing them to make better decisions about which high-end restaurants to spend their money at.
In person, she is fiercely passionate and not afraid to talk about it. With a jacaranda purple couch, bright orange pillows, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, her home office is as quirky and cool as she is.
Jill grew up on a sheep farm in South Western Victoria. In her own words, “I have country values to this day. You don’t waste anything. You turn off the lights, you don’t let the water run, you grow your own stuff and make everything from scratch because it’s too far into town. You make do with what you have.” And she really loves barbequed lamb chops. There is no one more fitting to create this guide to Australia’s innovative, organic, and sustainable dining experiences.
To celebrate the launch of these epic food guides, FoodFaith sat down with Jill Dupleix to dive deeper into the experience of creating Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, and to get to know the Australian editor behind this unique and relevant series.
You have quite an impressive career background - where did you get your start in food writing?
I wrote a letter (as a reader) to The Age in 1982 complaining about the Good Food Guide, and the editor, Claude Forell, published it in the Epicure section and asked for more. I was hooked!
What was the inception for Truth, Love, & Clean Cutlery? Where did the idea first start from?
The publisher’s original concept was for a guide to great restaurants, but we already have great restaurant guides. What was missing was a guide to people and places trying to do the right thing, so that we knew our dining money was going to support others down the food chain. Once we realised that, everything became very clear and we had real purpose, and the book happened very quickly – in Australia, as well as in the UK, USA, and the rest of the world.
Do you have a favourite city in Australia to dine in?
Melbourne, always Melbourne, although Adelaide keeps stealing my heart.
Do you have a favourite city elsewhere in the world to dine in?
Hmm. Hong Kong, San Francisco, Bologna, Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Singapore, Lyons, Amsterdam Copenhagen, Shanghai, do I have to choose?
What was something so delicious from the guide that it made you stop everything, and say "wow"?
The caraway croissant from Jo Barrett at Oakridge Wines in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, served with house-made cultured cream, local smoked mountain trout and its caviar (they won’t serve any seafood, as they are too far from the sea) and whatever is beautiful from their own garden that day. The first ‘wow’ is for the experience of eating it, the second ‘wow’ lasts longer when you realise all the effort and conscience and integrity that went into putting it together, and how it simply couldn’t exist anywhere else than the Yarra Valley.
What was one of the most innovative, unique business practices you witnessed in a restaurant in bringing this guide together?
Ben Shewry of Attica in Melbourne, who has committed to paying his suppliers every Wednesday of every week. This is unheard-of in the restaurant industry, where tradition dictates you string out people as long as possible – it has always been a very difficult issue for small-scale producers, growers and suppliers, and Ben shows great leadership in changing the status quo.
What would you say to someone who is currently indifferent about sustainability practices when they go out to eat?
I’d appeal to their greed, and say that your food will taste a lot better if you start thinking about where it’s from, what and who is behind it, and the good it is doing you and the rest of the world. Get woke.
How and why did you choose the NICI as your charity partner?
I have been involved with the National Indigenous Culinary Institute for five years, in which time it has trained a number of indigenous chefs who are now working in great restaurants in Australia and overseas. I’ve seen the power it has to change lives, and I’ve met so many great aboriginal people as a result. It’s like a parallel universe in Australia; you need someone to open that door and get indigenous and non-indigenous people together – and what more powerful thing do we all have in common than food and hospitality?
NICI began as an industry initiative, with a bunch of top chefs and restaurateurs such as Neil Perry, Barry McDonald, Michael McMahon and Guillaume Brahimi who were very aware that our first peoples aren’t represented in Australian restaurant kitchens, and who wanted to change that. 5% of the proceeds of the book go to NICI and could be used for much-needed chef kits, accommodation, travel, counselling and training - whatever is needed to help them find more indigenous people who have a passion for the industry and turn them into the great chefs of the future.
As the world's first guide to ethical and sustainable restaurants, what are your biggest hopes & dreams for this book and its World companions?
That it be the start of something, not the end. That the ‘Truth, Love’ effect will inspire new innovations in sustainability, support those who practice a more ethical business operation and motivate more people to choose where to dine based on the effect we all have in the world
Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery: A guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of Australia, Edited by Jill Dupleix (Blackwell & Ruth, $34.99) is available in/on all good bookstores with the series also offering guides to the United Kingdom, USA, and a World edition that includes 45 different countries.
Main Article Image: From Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, image copyright © Doot Doot Doot – Rick Liston.