Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Toni Rands. Toni is a “cheftrixx” and caterer living in Tasmania who specializes in authentic American-style cuisine that reflects and pays tribute to her rich family lineage and diverse heritage. She uses an abundance of fresh, natural ingredients in her cooking, continuing the style and tradition passed down from the talented hostesses in her family that came before her. Now through Toni’s own cooking and catering company, Honey Child Creole , there is much to be learnt about the ways in which heritage cooking can nourish us in more ways than one. Prepare to be hungry, but also prepare to be spiritually enlightened!
How long have you lived in Australia / Tasmania?
I came to Australia August of 2008. We first lived in New South Wales (where my husband lived and worked) and in December we moved to Tasmania. I met my now husband in November of 2007 and as our love deepened I knew I wanted the adventure of our love to be played out in a new exciting land. So we committed to starting our walk together in Australia.
What led you to live there?
My husband’s parents are alive and well. I was raised to believe that the children resume a lot of the family traditions when the parents slow down a bit in the golden years; mine have passed on so it really was a no brainer.
What got you into starting your own catering business?
I started cooking in Australia because the flavors I love were not here. There were a few watered down version of North American & Caribbean traditions and food-ways, but they were not vibrant and true. It was hard to make this feel like home without the smells of my Grandmother’s kitchens. I think the world at large discounts the diversity and true place at the table Ethnic foods have, and I wanted to be honest about the way Americans of color eat, celebrate, mourn, and honor our heritages with food.
Do you specialize in any particular types of dishes or cuisine?
I cook the food of my blood which blessedly gives me LOTS to learn from and blend. I specialize in the American foods from Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, and California, Tex Mex, St. Kitts, and Jamaica. The European flavors of Southern France, Sicily, and The British Isles have made their way into the mix through training, marriage, and travel.
What is heritage cooking and what does it mean to you?
Heritage cooking to me is learning & accepting your ancestry through the foods that have sustained and satisfied your line through the ages. It was a conscious commitment I made to My Gramma Wilma when I decided to marry an Australian and move here. I promise to look to my upbringing and beyond for inspiration and focus my career on the same Vibrant Platitudes.
Do you think that food can affect us spiritually?
I believe 100% that food can affect our Spirits. From saying grace, lighting the candles, to foods of the holy seasons, to the religious guidelines of Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and the Hindu to site a few it speaks to the truth of the spiritual and the natural being companions. In my family we are very much blended and through the trials and triumphs we have adapted many things from the people who surrounded us, good and bad.
What would be your dream meal to prepare?
My dream would be a HUGE Quarterly Feast of foods laden with the recipes from the Diaspora of all my heritages introduced with the story of “WHY” in My family. I would love to spawn a NEW tradition for Heads of Households to do this once a season throughout the World. Every person in every country could benefit from this tradition and it would be a GREAT thing to have 4 WORLD Family Days a year.
What are three ingredients you can’t live without?
Hearty Greens. Pinto Beans. Corn Meal/Polenta/Grits
Do you have any favourite farmer’s markets or shops that you like to visit for fresh produce and/or handmade items?
The one thing that has made me love Tasmania from almost first bite is the INCREDIBLE fruits and veg that grow here. I am blessed by a wealth of gorgeous farm stands, providores, and artisanal food producers that showcase at The Snug Market, The MoNa Museum Market, The Kingston Beach Markets, and new favorite the Twilight Market (though soon I will go there too). I have sold my wares to great success at all these save Twilight and have always enjoyed the trading and bartering with Producers of an impeccable standard.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I see myself running a 19 seat Bouchon style eatery and catering facility. I would have a new menu each and every day that you could chose the amount of courses you’d like to enjoy all designed by Me for your maximum pleasure.
Do you have any favourite recipes?
I seem to always fall back to the savory recipes of Granny Ivy and Gramma Wilma, and the sweets of my Great Grandma “Mommie” Elsie. I come from PROLIFIC hostesses and cooks and these women I would put next to The GREAT Edna Lewis, Mamma Dipp, and My living Idol Grande Dame of Creole food Mrs. Leah Chase of New Orleans. My Granny Ivy was a Masterful Texas style BBQ & Mexican Cuisine maven. Gramma Wilma was the Queen of traditional Southern breakfasts, slow n’ low French Creole braises, seasonal eating, and she was married to Cajun Huntsman Master Butcher & BBQ Pit Master Granpa Emmanuel. Mommie Elsie taught me how to make THE BEST Peach cobbler, yeasted breads, Layer upon layer cakes, and all manner of tea & fruit based beverages & refreshers.
What are some of the most important things you would like those who taste your dishes to know about your heritage?
I wish my Diners taste the forethought and deliberate purpose of my food. I want them to savour the truth of a strong, loud, blended, tenacious, and overall Passionate family. And most of all the enduring love in each and every bite or sip. I think you can sense the prayerful spirit of a fresh steamed Tamale, or the overcoming slant of our Cassoulet, or the joyful triumph in our Strawberry cake n Ice cream. I want people to taste the evolution from pauper to educated visionary. I want people leaving the table warm with the love I was blessed with and Ultimately inspired to repeat something in their past to bless their own futures.