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A Year in Review | 2023

Porcupine Eatery is now over two years old and we are just in the midst of finishing off our 2023-2024 wedding season.
Year two has been a whirlwind, since coming back from our travels mid 2023 we haven’t had a chance to take more than a few day’s break. In the second half of 2023 we focused on improving our processes, launching new products and looking at what’s next for Porcupine Eatery.
This past year, our reach has increased, but you may have noticed that we are not out in the public as much. The reason is that we have been in high demand for private events and weddings. We are trying to find a balance but we have realised there are only so many weekends in the year! So we apologies for those who have tried to find us in the public. Hopefully we will have that fixed soon!
At the start of 2023 Christine, Steph and I sat down to create more structure within the company and create company goals as well as personal goals. Although we are only 3 full time individuals, I wanted to create the right culture so that if we were ever to expand, Porcupine Eatery would have clear systems in place so that we would operate as efficient as possible. We delegated specific tasks to each of us. Steph to look after all customer service and front of house, I would look after everything to do with food and Christine would be the operations manager, in charge of all the financials and also guiding the company in the right direction. It was also decided that with the increase of private events and the amount of organisation that comes with them, that we would have weekly meetings. Every Monday we would go through upcoming jobs and review previous jobs. And every month we would have a general meeting to review financials and talk through broader ideas.
We sat down to discuss what Porcupine Eatery would look like in 2024, in 2028, in 2033 and so on. We made sure that we were all on the same page and working towards a common goal. This way, every action that we took was intentional. We then looked at how we could all individually contribute to this vision and also improve ourselves in the process.
In 2023, I focused on refining our menu, adding more creating flavours, canapes and the additon of gelato. I continued to improve our recipes as well as build up my skills. I focused on switching to a more sustainable approach in how I cook. Creating more relationships with local producers, including switching over to Wholegrain Milling - a top quality Australian mill in New South Wales, and creating more relationships with local farmers such as Dreaming Goat Dairy in the Macedon Ranges. I had a thirst to develop skills this year, studying more recipes and techniques, and attending more gastronomic conferences and workshops such as the Hospitality Leaders Summit, Fine Foods chef demonstrations and talks, and a master class from Josh Niland in Sydney. The trip to Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy and Scandinavia also allowed me to expand my experiences at some of the best restaurants in the world including VEA (Hong Kong), Osteria Francescana (Modena), Gucci Osteria (Florence) and Restaurant Barr (Copenhagen). Not excluding some of the best casual eateries; Trattoria Il Fantino (Modena), Sorbillo (Napoli), Caffe Sicilia (Noto), Caseificio Borderi (Siracusa). The six week long trip provided so much inspiration in food and culture of which I was so excited to bring back home and share.
The backbone of Porcupine Eatery is and always will be Christine. The direction of the company is helmed by her and every move we make, as I mentioned before, is intentional by her design. In 2023, Christine transitioned to full time and has been met by probably the most responsibility. She looks after the financials, marketing and business admin, but she is also in front of the oven at the events. At the start of the year, she was still quite timid around the oven but now, she cooks five pizzas in the oven with no problem (better than many pizzaioli I’ve worked with in other restaurants!). On top of all this, she was also able to start introducing her design flair into the company, launching our online shop. All the merchandise, branding and clothing has been drawn and designed by Christine. I am very proud that my original passion in food has also given her the platform to continue showcasing her devotion in design. Christine continues to build her skills as a business owner. Everyday she is learning more and more from other restauranteurs and other hospitality leaders so that their knowledge can be transferred to how we operate.
2023 and the start of 2024 has in my opinion, been the most influential for Steph. For those of you who have met Steph, you would understand that she has a natural ability to connect with people and it would surprise most that Porcupine Eatery is her first exposure in hospitality. This past year has been exciting to see her embrace her position and really grow a passion in providing the best service possible, even when we are operating from one of the most casual settings. We pride ourselves in this aspect - we want to provide you with food at a higher level than expected and service as you would at a restaurant. Steph is someone that exemplifies this for us. So mid-2023 we decided (in accordance with our future plans for Porcupine Eatery), to send Steph to build her skills up at a proper restaurant. An opportunity arose that Steph grabbed with both hands to work at one of the best restaurants in Australia. So if you haven’t seen Steph around the last few months it is because, credit to her, she is the newest member for the front of house team at the hatted restaurant; Du Fermier in Trentham. Under the tutelage of Head Chef Annie Smithers and Bronwyn Kabboord (Winner of the 2023 Good Food Guide Service Excellence Award). We are so grateful that Annie and Bron have given her this opportunity and could not be prouder of Steph. We can’t wait to see what knowledge she can bring back to Porcupine Eatery. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, please do! I ate the best potato in my life there!
With Steph unavailable most weekends, we have added a few more members to our team. Diego is always there when required to lend his expertise and Codey has stepped up to handle FOH and even started to cook! We have our trusted waitresses Emily and Yvette to cater weddings and also occasional assistance from Vincenzo and Olivia. All who make it possible for us to continue working seamlessly.
Recently, we have not been as active on our socials, there are several reasons: 1. With Steph working less hours, Christine has taken over the customer service aspect, putting even more of a workload on her plate. 2. Our busy season during the warmer months means we are doing 3-5 events a week, we are going non-stop, only having a few days break during Christmas. 3. We have big plans coming up! This is something that we have been working on since October last year. We are hoping something can be announced very soon, so stay tuned!
You can see that we have all been very busy this past year and the wheels at Porcupine Eatery just keep turning! As always, Christine and I thank you all for your continuous support. We are more passionate and excited than ever in our third year to see Porcupine Eatery grow. We have so many exciting plans and can’t wait to share them with you!
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Chris
Head Chef & Co-Owner
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