A life of good food and fun waves with chef Sarah Glover.
Photography: Luisa Brimble & Katrina Parker
If you’ve ever wondered what a life of good food and fun waves looks like, it’s the life of Sarah Glover. And if there’s one friend you’d want to have, it’s probably her.
Cooking along the edges of quiet coastlines, on top of rolling hills or a clear space through the forest, Sarah is a chef who loves to wander.
Being the second child of 8 and growing up in the picturesque, cosy state of Tasmania Sarah quickly became familiar with a busy kitchen and large volumes of food. And the way she cooks is honest and simple. Her way of using the surroundings to gather a mouthwatering menu is much more than inspiring, its magic. There are no ‘fancy’ techniques or tools, imported spices or produce; just a combination of what the land has to offer and how she plans to gather, prepare and cook it. Having made her way through a cheffing career in Tasmania, Sydney and New york Sarah now pushes the boundaries of cooking by getting back to basics. The outdoors is where her heart lies and her passions thrive.
It all began at 14 as a young teen who loved to eat and decided that cooking was a great way to skip school work. And at 16 Sarah had decided that school just wasn’t her thing and that the everyday task of cooking food was becoming more of a passion than a chore. We eat food to keep our bodies fuelled and alive, but for her it wasn’t just about that anymore. A deeper love for the outdoors and cooking over fire cultivated curiosity and the pleasures of eating genuine, good food.
This was also the age that Sarah began to Surf and without the cyber pressure’s of social media, the real pressures of FOMO (fear of missing out) were in abundance. Older brothers and their friends would paddle out, leaving no room for second thoughts, doubts or fear. Sarah followed suit. Her love for the ocean grew tenfold after understanding and connecting with the water in a new form. Gliding over waves, steering her vessel and feeling that warm, thick, bubbling sensation of pure joy after every wave was what grew a healthy addiction.
One (very chilly) Winter’s morning after a cold surf in a thick wetsuit, Sarah was ready to eat. Armed with only a box of matches and a few vital ingredients she selected the driftwood from around her ankles, lit a fire and began to craft a quick sourdough as the fire brought warm to her bones. Mixing flour, yeast and sea-water not by measurement but instead intuition, she found a rock shelf perfect for kneading the dough. A quick search with her eyes, and she’d found a flat rock to place on top of the fire. Placing the freshly kneaded pizza base on the now very hot rock, she scattered some saltbush and local cheese and watched the elements do their thing.
Sitting back, looking out at the ocean with cheese running down her fingers, something changed. This was a pivotal moment for Sarah. This was the way she wanted to cook, outside in the elements using nothing but what she had. Perhaps it was the challenge of having very little to work with but she knew in that under fluorescent lights and on stainless steel benches wasn’t the best fit for her idea of cooking. Instead it was right there, in a moment that made her heart full.
For Sarah, the most integral part of cooking is using the mouth to taste and better understand the next move of adding or adjusting flavours or techniques. And when we asked her what cuisine she would choose if she could only eat that for the rest of her life, her answer of “Argentinian, it’s all cooked over fire’ was a smiling moment. Although her favourite meal to cook (at the moment) is cuts of meat slow cooked by smoking them, Sarah is still partial to the classic household favourite, vegemite toast. Admitting that this is a staple in her house because it’s all about balance, right?
Last year was another milestone for Sarah with the launch of her first cookbook, Wild. 325 pages of mouthwatering recipes, stories of past adventures and some seriously epic photography to paint the picture. We asked her what the word ‘wild’ meant to her - “it’s about your inner self, it’s about letting go of what you have been told and letting yourself be free from rules”. And that is exactly what her cooking expresses, being free from rules, constraints and listening to that little voice inside that says ‘go for it!’.
With the books core intention being understanding and respecting the connection between the land and the food we eat, Sarah expresses this through each recipe. The recipes written are like reading love letters to the land of produce. From fresh ingredients to uncomplicated instructions, this book wasn’t intentionally designed for accessibility but rather with that coming naturally.
We’re constantly inspired by this intrepid traveller who’s always hungry for an adventure and good food. Watching her journey is a gentle reminder to get outside and find pleasure in all the simple things, especially what’s right in front of you.