Mal Meiers and Kate Christensen: Food + Wine Pop-Up
With Mal and Kate, you get passion, world class culinary experience and a commitment to a worthy social cause
What do you get when you mix a chef, a sommelier and a pop-up restaurant concept? You get two talented people with a lot of international experience – chef Mal Meiers and sommelier Kate Christensen – who have decided to put down roots in Tasmania.
Mal and Kate both grew up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast but it wasn’t until they were at Tonka restaurant in Melbourne that they met. This serendipitous meeting led to years working together overseas following foodie dreams and developing the Food + Wine Pop-Up concept.
The pair have popped up all over the globe. In Tokyo at OUT restaurant their Truffle Shuffle featured truffles in every course, matched with natural wine, rice beer and sake. In the port town of Antibes in France, they delivered a series of dinners in the new concept cave Jeanne (yes a cave). There, they also worked with local bio farmer Jean-Louis, to hand select their vegetables. In Portugal, the seaside town of Lagos was home to their three-week pop up at hotel Casa Mãe. At London’s hip inner city venue Carousel they showcased the country’s abundant summer produce.
Despite all the travel, Tasmania was on their radar long-term. An invitation from acclaimed Hobart restaurant Franklin lured them to Tasmania sooner than expected.
“When we got back to Australia we’d been living between Sydney and Melbourne when we got a call from Franklin and it just made sense to us to move. The natural beauty, treks, food and wine, coupled with the produce at our fingertips, we just had to say yes,” explains Kate.
Mal and Kate have settled into their roles at Franklin and will launch their first pop-up experience in Hobart in June 2018.
After spending time in France, they’ve also become accustomed to foraging for their own food. “We were at a friend’s property in Swansea where we foraged for our own mushrooms. We like to try and eat something wild every day,” adds Kate.
“We have so much free time. We can go for a walk along the beach in the morning, in half an hour we can be up Mount Wellington and in an hour’s drive we can feel a world away from the capital. There’s such a spaciousness to our lifestyle here. Rather than sitting at a late night Chinese eatery in Melbourne, I’m now getting up early to hike.”
Mal is also adjusting to the change of pace and is now part of the local ceramics community. He’s enjoying the opportunity to spend hours sculpting or glazing. The Vege Collection is his latest plate-ware range, inspired and moulded around the shape of vegetables.
When they’re relaxing, what’s Kate’s favourite drop? “Any wine that speaks of truth – that speaks of where it’s from, has sense of place and hasn’t been tinkered with too much. When not too much is taken or added, you can connect with the person who made it. I think you can taste that love comparatively to a wine that’s made as a commodity. I’m a yoga teacher, so energy is important to me. Yoga and wine are about balance, authenticity and energy. You can taste a wine that is alive with energy.”
The couple continue to honour the link between the earth’s bounty and the producer’s passion. And when they’re not busy at Franklin, the couple are brainstorming new ways to raise funds through their Food For Thought dinners.
“It’s in its fifth year and raises funds for suicide prevention and mental health awareness charities R U OK? and beyondblue,” explains Kate. “Mal has been doing ticketed events and recent dinners across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney have raised $50 000 with all funds going to R U OK? and beyondblue. Naturally, we hope to do an event in Hobart too.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Food + Wine Pop-Up.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.