Along with its world-renowned beaches and natural beauty, Byron Bay is becoming known as a hub for fine food lovers.
A smorgasbord of tantalising experiences awaits anyone with a penchant for fresh local produce, farm-to-plate dining and artisanal culinary creations of every description.
There’s something for everyone, from farmers’ markets, feted restaurants and out-of-the-way gems, best discovered from one of the many fantastic guided food tours on offer.
Of course, there’s also the option to cook in the comfort of your villa with an in-room kitchen.
Eat, Feast, Laugh: The Joys of Cooking
If you’re up for donning an apron and claiming the kitchen as your domain, then we’ve got a fantastic treat for you – cooking classes with Belinda Jeffery, an acclaimed Australian chef and author of many award-winning cookbooks.
Belinda’s hands-on classes have been delighting visitors, and locals, since May 2017.
Her recipe for success is simple. The primary ingredients are laughter, eating cake, and “the special joy that comes from cooking and learning together”.
Held at the 120-year-old Federal Village Hall (aka Jasper Corner), in Byron Bay’s picturesque hinterland less than half an hour’s drive from Elements of Byron, there’s no better way to spend your weekend than at Belinda’s cooking school.
“We offer the opportunity to bring more depth to visitors’ stay here as we offer a window into the lives of the community – the growers, farmers and producers,” she says.
“We also share the wonderful experience of breaking bread together over a meal we have created from the bounty that is available.”
The beauty is that no one class is the same, as recipes shift with the seasons. However, Belinda is always keen to showcase the beautiful, locally grown and often organic produce.
Here’s what she has in store for the summer classes.
“Our local peaches and nectarines have just started to arrive in the farmers’ market, so I’m making the most of these as the season here is so short. Asparagus is also fantastic, and the stalls are awash with brilliant tomatoes and the first fragrant bunches of basil,” Belinda enthuses.
A Girl with a Sweet Tooth
As a little girl, Belinda was constantly underfoot when her mum was in the kitchen, insisting on cooking alongside her.
She was especially fond of baking cakes and puddings, and as the story goes, when she was given a Margaret Fulton cookbook at ten, her love affair with cooking was sealed.
Since then, Belinda has worn many hats during her illustrious career in the food industry. She’s known as a chef, cafe owner, TV food presenter, radio personality, cooking teacher and cookbook author, her favourite pursuit of all.
“I’ve always loved the way that food brings people together, and that you can create such joy from something so simple. Plus…I love to eat!” Belinda explains.
“People say that my cookbooks and writing have encouraged them to cook, and given them confidence to try new things, which is one of the things I’m most proud of. I feel that cooking is such an important life skill, and such a wonderful way to show people that you care for them.”
Belinda and husband Clive – he hilariously describes himself as her “roadie, pot washer, veggie prepper and driver” – moved to the Byron Shire more than 15 years ago from Sydney and the UK, respectively.
Both avid surfers, the decision to move to this spectacular part of the world was easy.
Today, they live in Mullumbimby, which boasts a strong community vibe and its fair share of great eating spots.
What to Expect from Belinda’s Class
Anyone partaking in Belinda’s cooking classes can expect to learn simple recipes, bursting with flavour and fresh ingredients.
“I don’t really know that I have a signature style. but I guess that ‘rustic’ sums it up. As we have such amazing produce, I always try to make it the star and not to overwhelm it with lots of other flavours,” Belinda says.
With class sizes limited to eight, it’s a perfect activity for inviting friends, family members or a partner. Else you can seize the opportunity to meet new people there. You’ll come away with a repertoire of sumptuous, yet delightfully simple dishes, that’s sure to impress when entertaining.
A final word…Belinda says you don’t need to have any great cooking skills to enjoy her classes. You simply need to like food and eating!
What: Classes start at 10am and finish around 2pm. Participants then sit down to a long table lunch of the food they have cooked on the verandah. The event winds up around 4pm.
Where: Federal Village Hall Kitchen at Jasper Corner, 3 Federal Road, Federal (Byron Bay Hinterland)
Information & Bookings: To see Belinda’s schedule of classes or to reserve a spot in a class, visit her website.
Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.