For some, the lack of tomatoes in a salad during winter is a source of great confusion. But for chef Michael Daly, owner of the Daly Larder, it is about “sticking to my guns”, and serving delicious, quality food that is “paddock to plate” fresh, seasonal and, if possible, locally foraged.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, foraging “starts in your own back garden”, according to Michael. “There are loads of weeds that are edible greens and quite nutritious.
“There’s a plant called purslane. It usually grows along the cracks in the footpath, because it likes that little bit of dry soil and it kind of spreads out like a hand. Not many people know that that plant is absolutely packed with Omega-3, so anybody who doesn’t like fish, or doesn’t want to take oils, can opt for that. It tastes quite crunchy, it actually tastes like cucumber.
“A lot of people don’t realise that these edible weeds contain more vitamins and minerals than any of the stuff that’s growing elsewhere. That’s because it’s natural, it’s untouched, and nobody has tampered with it.”
Foraging starts in your own back garden.
Michael says he can attribute his keen sense of foraging to his grandfather, who taught him back in his home country of Ireland. “From when I was eight years old we used to go out for walks through the country lanes. He would be showing me different things that I could eat, teaching me from an early age. I’ve used this throughout my career as a chef, through getting my hands on fresh ingredients and the best of everything.”
It was the desire to work for himself, while incorporating his own values, that led to the creation of the Daly Larder – café, gourmet delicatessen and cooking school all in one, in the heart of Michael’s adopted home, Feilding. “I had a little dream of bringing my own foraging concept, and sustainable way of thinking, to life. The store is based on the idea of recycling and not wasting food. The food is fresh daily, dependent on what’s in season and what I can get my hands on.” Even the building itself reflects the theme, with everything repurposed from something, “old sheep gates to the table tops refurbished from old 10-pin-bowling lanes”.
The Daly Larder is also often home to an audience. Its unique open plan décor, with everything on display, was purpose designed by Michael. “You can see me cooking and going from one kitchen to another, just like you would sitting in your lounge at home. I can’t hide anything, so the whole concept is what you see is what you get. It’s theatre and live entertainment.”