My first food memories are cooking with my mother. Being of the boomer generation, our meals were pretty much meat and three veg with a cake thrown in here and there. I was a very unadventurous eater as a child and pretty much lived on meat, mashed potatoes and eggs. Leaving home and having my daughter when I was very young, I wanted to make sure she had better eating habits than myself and so my food journey began…

Armed with my mothers Women’s Weekly Cookbooks I completely devoured them, trying out recipes that looked good in the pictures. Slowly but surely, on my own in the kitchen with no one to judge me, I discovered that even if I didn’t like something, it wasn’t actually going to kill me. I slowly discovered my own unique palate and learned to tweak the recipes with abandon. This is what created my passion for cooking and love of food that carries me through right to today.

Lucky to grow up in the stunning Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne, my family travelled to the country often. My father would take me up into the Victorian high country and teach me about native plants and animals and how to navigate the bush. I learned to appreciate nature and the world around me. My love of growing food and flowers stemmed from these trips and has been with me my whole life.

Confident in my ability to cook food people liked, in 2002 I opened the first organic restaurant in Victoria in Sassafras. People thought I was completely weird… why on earth would you bother eating food without chemicals in it??

I quickly learned I was completely out of my depth running a restaurant and after having my middle child, we took off on a road trip, spending the next 14 years working in as many high end restaurants as I could. From resorts in the Whitsundays, to Thredbo Alpine Resort, finally ending up the at the famous Upfront Club in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast. I took every opportunity I could to learn from skilled chefs and anyone who could show me simpler ways to cook.

After having my youngest child, I went out on my own in 2013 and ran a successful organic, gluten free pie business for several years until a family tragedy bought us back to Victoria.

Needing some peace and calm in my life, Wild Earth Mother was founded in 2016.

Growing my own produce, I made preserves and baked goods selling them at markets around Gippsland and through my farmgate stall.

We travelled overseas the same year and I contracted an unknown virus.

I was very ill for sometime and battled through everyday with no energy, an aching body and a brain fog that just wouldn’t relent. Nothing the doctors recommended made any difference. After 18 months, my quality of life was so poor, I was desperate. It was then I discovered the magical cultures of fermenting and realised I already had much of the knowledge required to make them.

I was like a mad scientist with brews bubbling away in every corner of my kitchen. I tried everything… and what I didn’t know, I found out. It was an absolute game changer. After a lifetime of eating dead, cultureless foods, chemical overloads from everyday products and the inevitable use of antibiotics my body had no good bacteria left. Within only two months I was felt like myself again but even better.

Culture was the key to the good life!

The art of fermentation, foraging for wild food and cheesemaking became my areas of expertise and I began teaching workshops the following year. This opened doors to being part of the biggest food collective in the country, running my own store, influencing on social media, a cookbook in the works and now appearing with Khanh Ong on his new TV show Wild Foods on SBS Food.

My life is fermenting organically just as the universe intended it to.
Thanks for being part of my journey
Peace, love and mung beans…

Relle x