Feb. 5, 2022

Part I Cooking Down Under with Jodie


Come along with us to the remote cattle ranches of Australia. In part one of our interview with Jody Pollack, founder of the chillax lounge, as we've learned how Jody began her culinary journey, from turning huge Australian bush lemons into sweet lemon curd to her early dreams of becoming a station cook for the Jackaroos and Jillaroos working the cattle ranches in Queensland, Australia. Jody shares her incredible adventure and a lifelong passion for food and cooking.

Connect with Jodie: https://thechillaxlounge.com/collections


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Transcript

Michael Dugan:

Come along with us to the remote cattle ranches of Australia. In part one of our interview with Jody Pollack, founder of the Chillax Lounge, as we've learned how Jody began her culinary journey, from turning huge Australian bush lemons into sweet lemon curd to her early dreams of becoming a station cook for the Jackaroos and Jillaroos working the cattle ranches in Queensland, Australia. Jody shares her incredible adventure and a lifelong passion for food and cooking. I would like to welcome Jody Pollack and Judy is in Australia. In fact, she's in Queensland in the north territory.

Jodie Pollock:

Northern State of North Queensland.

Michael Dugan:

Jody Welcome to the show.

Jodie Pollock:

Hi, Michael. I've been really excited about this.

Michael Dugan:

Me too. And did you know that you are my first guest? That is outside of the United States? I am so honored. Yes. Thank you. Thank you for having me on the show. I'm just really excited that you're here. We're going to start out with is kind of trying to figure out, and really understand why you're obsessed with food. And I don't say that in a negative way, because many people have bad habits and, and horrible addictions, but food is not a bad addiction. I have the same addiction. We're going to dig a little bit and kind of take, take us back to your childhood and what it was like growing up and how how were you connected to food?

Jodie Pollock:

Okay, so my childhood even my food is probably a bit boring and I and I must admit I get a bit jealous when I get to hear people sharing their stories or cooking with their you know, their parents or their grandparents. And mine was out, like younger years like primary school years, it was out pretty much in a tent as my dad was out contract painter, a yard builder and we were sort of further north in Queensland then what we are now but he would put these fence lines up that you know, we'd go for miles and timber cattle yards that you know, he would build by hand. So cooking was very simple. It was like over the campfire, simple camp cooking. And I didn't like I don't remember getting involved in that much. But as we got older we moved closer to town that we always still did homeschooling because we're too far out of town. But we bounced around a lot and I've got little memories. We would have these home tutors that would come and visit us and you know we'd have to do a bit of cooking for school and introduce things like that. I don't know I've just always sort of had a connection with food so I'm thinking because Dad was working away and mum would work a fair bit in town. My brother and I would do a lot of the cooking for mum. I think that was a bit of a blessing. Because she wasn't that great of a cook.

Michael Dugan:

Oh yeah, I understand.

Jodie Pollock:

Her idea of fancy mashed potato was cutting up raw. brown onion. very thinly and mixing that through the mashed potato.

Michael Dugan:

Oh, wow.

Jodie Pollock:

That's fancy mashed potato mum style.

Michael Dugan:

Was there anything that you miss about your mom's cooking?

Jodie Pollock:

What was she good at chicken like a pretty good lemon curd. Oh, yeah, no like there's nothing that jumps out.

Michael Dugan:

Okay, so we gotcha at lemon curd. Anything that you remember as you were growing up that you started you know you'd like to cook for that you just really loved the taste of?

Jodie Pollock:

Living out on the land to like we got such a great understanding of where the food comes. You know, we had our veggie garden. We had our own, you know, pigs and chokes. I had a really sweet tooth. So, you know, once a week I was making a chocolate cake and the chocolate cake. I don't know if it's always come out nice and moist. It was a simple buttercream and it would always be a fancy chocolate cake. I think I like baking from a young age as well because I had such a sweet tooth. Yeah.

Michael Dugan:

And your mom's lemon curd too. So that ties it together.

Jodie Pollock:

Yes. Yeah. And at one place we lived we had there was an orchard there and there was this bush lemon and they're quite big, a bush lemon, and they make the perfect lemon curd and it would it would go all year round and my brother and I would take them into the local pub in a box and we would sell them for five cents. And it was extra pocket money at that place. Springvale where there was workers and I could hear a bird.

Michael Dugan:

What is the bird tell us what the bird is because I'm from the States. You know, you've got some wild exotic birds out there.

Jodie Pollock:

I'm hoping it wasn't just the crow, but it's probably a butcher bird, I reckon. I think that one would have been a bunch of it.

Michael Dugan:

What is the butcher bird?

Jodie Pollock:

Oh, so they like a black and white bird a bit smaller than a crow. We've got these other ugly brown birds around the same size called bowerbirds. And they will they were still things I was still things and they make this wildness that you'll have to Google about birds nest.

Michael Dugan:

Okay a bowerbird.

Jodie Pollock:

they also mimic things so that if you leave by just say your wife took a ring up, like waving up to wash up and left it on the sink. They will fly in and steal it. You don't leave things out.

Michael Dugan:

oh my gosh

Jodie Pollock:

But they will also mimic so sometimes I'll think oh something's wrong with a little puppy. And it's just bowerbird mimicking.

Michael Dugan:

oh my gosh, wow.

Jodie Pollock:

That spring but we had a worker there and she made homemade homemade marshmallow for the first time that I remember. And I've been in love with marshmallow ever since it was my favorite. And I remember trying to make it once after my mom and dad had bought this little property, seven acres and they grew passion fruit on that and I'm like, Oh, I'm gonna make marshmallow and we didn't have any kind of electric mixer just the old hand mixer.

Michael Dugan:

From scratch with a hand mixer. Oh my gosh.

Unknown:

Well, it was a bit of a disaster because I'm a bit impatient and I didn't want to wait for it to cool down. Yeah, I remember mum coming in going. "You're meant to let it cool. " So it turned out the best.

Michael Dugan:

For our listeners that happens don't don't give up is I think the message there just don't give up be patient and don't give up.

Unknown:

Well, I think is how you learn through your mistakes. You know just trial and error. Like I might see you make something and there might be an ingredient in there that I don't like or I know my family doesn't like so you know, I can take that out and replace it and that makes it even more special because there you've adapted that recipe to be your recipe you know? It might be a complete disaster, but it might be the best dish ever.

Michael Dugan:

Okay, so who's that? (Bird Screeching)

Jodie Pollock:

That sound like somebody like the magpie or butcher bird?

Michael Dugan:

Okay, got it. Got it. So, can you tell us more about what school was like and kind of that journey and as you were going through school, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do? I know for myself, I wanted to be a fireman and I wanted to be an African game hunter and not hurt animals but collect them as almost as pets.

Unknown:

Yes. So all my childhood was done through school or distant education or school the air back then so because we were out of town and moving around so much. I would do. I had the schoolwork would be sent out to us. And we would do it and for half an hour or might have been an hour each day we would have a two way and we would talk to our teacher and our class on that two way. Yeah, and I know you'll get into this later, which is why clubhouse just reminds me of that. We get together at a set time. And our teacher would play a bit of music and we would do our lesson and then go on to our schoolwork so you just bet two times a year we'd had kids where we would get together and meet up and spend time with our teachers and our classmates so there was a lot of history on my take off my dad I'm a bit of a history not I don't remember dates so well but I just love the stories I love I love storytelling. And like my mum was going into the local pub and she was cleaning rooms and I decided that grade five, grade six or grade six. I was going to come a station. So some of these properties here in Australia, a huge like mine 64,000 acres and that's quite small compared to ... The Northern Territory. So there's a lot of men or Jillaroos and Jakkaroos, and so they've got a full time station to prepare for them. And I knew like I'm going to pick a station cook.

Jodie Pollock:

So tell tell us a little bit more about you said Jackaroo and what is that because Jillaroos and Jackaroo.

Unknown:

Jackaroo is male cowboy and a Jillaroos is a female cowgirl

Michael Dugan:

That makes sense on on the ranch. Right?

Unknown:

Exactly. It's not it's not even used a lot here in Australia no more like it's not. I noticed that cook at the local Lakeland pub name was Doddy mama arranged with her for me to go in and help her out. The first thing I knew how to make resoles which is like a oversized meatball. And we just usually ser ve it up with gravy and mashed potato and veggies like that. So it's either an oversized meatball or very small meatloaf rolled into balls. Mum's way of making results is tomato sauce, chopped up onion and then you got to put your breadcrumbs and again of course and that was it. But Doddy she showed you know salt and pepper like who would have thought to add the basic salt and pepper.

Michael Dugan:

Seasoning seasoning who would have thought on that seasoning

Unknown:

Carrot like grater up carrot and that sort of thing. It hit me that. Wow. You can do whatever you want. On you can experiment.

Michael Dugan:

The whole world opens up at that point. That's that's your fork in the road right there. It's your fork in the road because because really it's it's you're on that journey to learn about obsession.

Jodie Pollock:

I was so isolated, you know, like we didn't have TV like we might have had videos but you know or watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. And slowly we're like most autonomy close to this small town life and then a bigger town with a decent supermarket half a day drive.

Michael Dugan:

Half a day. Oh my gosh.

Unknown:

Okay, so we're talking dirt roads, on rough dirt roads. Yeah. You know, like you didn't wear white. covered in dust by the time you got there. Mom and Dad did their jobs to the supermarket. That was the only time my brother and I got to see toys. So most of time we spent that in the toy aisle. And it just that connection of food in it. Click, you know, you knew you had to eat food. You'd go we'd go to Mareeba and the truth was we'd go to the same cafe. We'd get like a hamburger, a chocolate thick shake. And that's where my session with cappuccinos come in because Mum would always get a cappuccino. Oh, and yeah, that was her treat. That was a special coffee with a cappuccino and I think that's why I like cappuccinos now, but food was just simple, like there was no interesting cooking shows. But then I started looking through a bit of Better Homes and Gardens which is a magazine here and like oh we cook other cuisines other than pizza here in Australia like we cook, Indian and Italian and like what? So, it did start that day. Doddy taught me how she made Risoles.

Michael Dugan:

Wow. So that's really that's really where it came from. I can see it unfolding. Yeah. As as you're talking.

Unknown:

So after that, like I went to so use Sevens and the primary school that's when you go off to high school. High school is normally to grade eight to grade 12. And there was no way mom was teaching us High School, which I understand because my kids went to boarding school too. So I was shipped up south which at that stage is a good day's drive. So from two Charters Towers where I live now to do boarding school, and of course I did Home Ec.

Michael Dugan:

Where's that so that?

Unknown:

live as a Charters Towers, which is inland from Townsville on on the East Coast? Yep. So okay, it's like today with the better roads and cars. We're talking about seven hours drive. Yeah. So of course, I took home, Home Ed. I I was a bit cocky. I think in that case, like I knew how to make scones. You know, I sort of felt like I had a leg up on cooking. And I enjoyed it. Interest. Yep, I remember in grade seven, because I knew I was gonna be a station cook. So I've always been very practical gifts for Christmas. I just want to cook in your stuff. So I I wanted stuff to cook with. So when I left school, I didn't have to buy stuff to go. I had my kit ready to go cooking on cattle properties, you know? So I did Home Ec. The worst thing about that is it also is sewing. Not a famous sewing

Michael Dugan:

I'll just get a new pair of

Unknown:

You're gonna learn to put a hem and sew a button on like I'll just stand on the heels of my jeans. It's all good. But that was a and this is this is how also my mum was a bad cook. My kids complain about boarding school food. I liked it. I didn't think there's anything wrong with it. So I'm like, Oh, I thought was pretty good. I was better than I was eating at home. It was interesting, really special occasion like the big races that the Melbourne Cup race there was made by this marshmallow pineapple salad. So again, I'm introduced to different types of food I'm like, Oh, this is interesting. Yeah, and then, so grade 10 I left I wasn't sure I wanted to be a station cook anymore. Like I did have to come up with different ideas. So I actually went jewelry I went and become a calculadora roof for a few years. What does that so cover? Yep. And the place I went, I'm learning the face I went to work on was a joint property and so on one property was the cattle and on the other property was a barramundi farm. So my time was

Michael Dugan:

Oh, don't say that word. Oh my gosh.

Jodie Pollock:

Yes. Yeah. So and, and I grew up around the hole of Barramundi. So the waterways are full of them and and I caught my first barramundi they

Michael Dugan:

used to say the word Barramundi. It resonates with me and my wife because locally in Seattle, Washington. If you can believe this, we have a restaurant called salty blue and it's a brand new restaurant and they serve Australian only only Australian fish and the first thing I tried was barramundi and it was amazing. And my wife goes back there we go back there once. She wants to have more. That's my prayer Monday.

Jodie Pollock:

And you know, I'm young like I left school at 16 and I left and follow the boy down back down here. Oh, I went left there and I went to another property and it had a station cook there and and I made friends with her like she was great like she taught me how to make trifle because my mom didn't know how to make Trifle more baking trifles my favorite dessert ever. And the day I left she that night she made me trifle isn't going away present. Wow. Yeah. And so I got back got a bit of an idea of like what a station Cook was like and, and then I come down here to Charters Towers and I worked in like a fish and chip shop for a bit. And then my partner who is called Michael and he is a third generation kettle brazier. So I'm thinking

Michael Dugan:

but you know, there's there's Jodie there's a lot of Michael's in the world. There is there is a school with 13 of them on one floor.

Jodie Pollock:

Oh wow. Yeah. So I was working at the council I Gardner at the time because I love gardening as much as I love

Michael Dugan:

My wife, oh my gosh, she loves gardening. I just wants to be a landscape architect. I thought about doing that. That's one of her dreams. I thought about doing that for a bit. Yeah, you would get along so well there. Yeah. So I fell pregnant with my

Jodie Pollock:

son. I guess that's where I become a station cool because once I fell pregnant with him, I moved out with my partner and his mom at the time she's doesn't like cooking now. So she's over and that shows in her cooking like when someone's cooking. It shows but she made this curry chicken and I don't like curry that she made best curry chicken and the best spaghetti bolognese ever, and there was no hiding like I would stand there and watch how she would make it. I could never I still can't get it the tastes the same. They were her dishes, you know. And so we're all living in the same house. They had to cuddle properties. And it just it's a bit much living in the same house with the in laws. So my partner and I would try and be out at the other property as much as we possibly could. It just, it just had a shed and I had one buyer that shed as my kitchen and dining room. And the rest was the machinery shed and it had no power and I had to guess like stove the oven didn't work and it only had one burner and and then when we started the generator I'd have a microwave so that that's what I reckon I learned my basics there like I like the basics on how to cook with hardly anything. So I learned how to make cakes in the microwave. We didn't get any scones we ate a lot of pikelets or pancakes as you would call them. Doing a lot of work at pikelets but they're like a smaller pancake. They're like a pancake but they just and then in 2008 We got the power put on which was a miracle like I love that we still didn't get a new Apple I think in 2008 We got the house built and I had a kitchen and I had an oven and then I got experimental we had TV so and it was cooking shows like My Kitchen Rules which were

Michael Dugan:

oh you we're in trouble then. Oh boy.

Jodie Pollock:

Yeah, you know, I'm in trouble now that we've got like Foxtel which it records like you can record shows. So we've got the internet now, you know, so I can Google recipes. And my mind was just blown but it wasn't. It wasn't just that I could cook all these. I felt like I could travel the world by just cooking dishes. You know? I can I can take a bit of anywhere and cook a dish. But the stories behind that like when you start listening to chefs and unite us being interviewed. All they want to do that as heavy as hell they show their love. They cook it comes out in their food that's what I love to do. I I love just cooking, feeding people. I never want anyone to go leaving my home going. You don't get fed at that point. Do you like you're going to be in a food coma? Like when?

Michael Dugan:

Wow. Yeah.

Jodie Pollock:

But that's what I think. I think that's where my passion really kicked in. Like I think it was always there like there's little signs of it. But that's when I actually had the tools and it was a lot closer to town. And I think the world's opening up a bit so you can get ingredients easy. Yeah, yeah. And you put the tools and you can do research. It just exploded. From there.

Michael Dugan:

It's fantastic. So what about now just, we're gonna reset a little bit and I want to describe because I don't even know I have this imagination about Australia. And you live pretty remote. Right? So what is it like in Jodi's backyard? Okay, so you can hear some of the background noise in Jodi's backyard.

Jodie Pollock:

Who's out there? It's such a hard thing, Michael like, I don't think I'd give this up for anything. But on the same note, getting to experience you're isolated in the fact that you don't you don't get to see many new things or meet new people. For us to pack up and just go on a holiday is pretty much next to nothing. So we've got 4000 Brahmin cross beef cattle, we we breed beef cows, and send them off to market. You know, you can't just walk away for a week or two. It's family owned. So there's my Michael, my son, he's coming and going now he's 19. My daughter and myself and Michael's parents are pretty much retired but they've still got their own. They've got the other property, which you know, they farm and that so there's lots of chaos. There's lots of dry years, there seems to be a lot more dry years and years. And so to help bring those cows together and master those cows, we have like working dogs. So there's you know, there's all those things you have to take care of every day. But the freedom is I can go down to our cattle yards and get a trial a load of dirt for my garden, you know, so I have a bad habit of collecting rocks, I will go you know, and find the perfect rock to make my sort of path or my garden.

Michael Dugan:

In part two, we invite you to continue on Jodi's journey as we interview her outside surrounded by dingoes, kangaroos and exotic birds on a ranch in rustic Australia. We'll get cooking with kitchen disasters and some of her favorite dishes. Stay tuned. For part two. Thanks for joining