Not just a cafe…it’s a lifestyle!
To coincide with the release of our new Bondi Wanderlust Guide we chat with the dream team from popular cafe 'Porch and Parlour'. We talk risk taking, dream making, travel, music, green bowls and more...
Sarah, originally from Perth – how did you end up in the foodie biz and in one of the word most brilliant locations no less?! Tell us about the journey…
Sam was working as head chef on a remote bush retreat in the Kimberly called Faraway Bay. The name captures the essence of the place – accessed only by plane, no roads, foraging for produce, catching barramundi to serve for lunch. It was a really special place to be.
I had just finished my degree in Marketing and PR, so I flew up to work alongside Sammy for two months to experience this unique style of living. We worked together in the kitchen for the first time (risky), preparing meals for the guests using only local produce, making everything from scratch and cooking mostly on open fire.
It was here we discovered, firstly that working together actually worked! And secondly our love of bringing people together over a thoughtful meal. We loved not only the creative process with this style of food preparation but the ‘hospitality’ that came along with it. Sharing stories, having a laugh & getting to know our guests. Sitting down at a long table over these meals was really rewarding… and got us thinking!
The following year we moved from Perth to Sydney, and the opportunity to open Porch (on Brighton Blvd) presented itself. We launched straight into it.
What is the Porch philosophy of food and lifestyle?
Our food is clean, simple and reflection of the way we like to eat. Designed to be enjoyed after rolling off the beach, over a business meeting, before yoga or relaxing with friends over a glass of rose. It was created with everyone in mind, so although there’s a common health conscious thread it’s all about balance – pork belly to sauerkraut, margarita to green juice.
All three of us enjoy travel and many of our dishes are inspired by these adventures. Whilst traveling the lines of breakfast, lunch and dinner are often blurred. Our signature Green Breaky Bowl was created after a trip to Indonesia. Why can’t we eat a nourishing bowl of dark leafy greens at breakfast? Let’s do it.
Rel spent a month in Mexico and Canada before we reopened and these experiences can be cited in our drinks offering. Produce is sourced mindfully whether it local producers, friends that are wine makers or supporting projects that we believe in. Chefs make everything in house including our spicy chai, sprouted breads and almond milk.
With all of this in mind however the most rewarding part for the three of us is being part of the community that Porch creates. The food brings people together, but in turn it’s the lifestyle created by such an interesting bunch of people that either work with us or enjoy the space that create the value.
Tell us about the team at Porch and the new renovations i.e. those great walls!
There’s three of us! Sam Smith, Alexander Relic and myself (Sarah Hendriks). We have known each other for over 7 years now, Rel was one of our first and most frequent customers at the original Porch on Brighton Blvd. Once talk of expanding into the space next door were initiated Rel came onboard and together we grew into the venue you experience today.
We all have very different backgrounds Sam is a chef, Rel’s experience lies in bars both management and training/mentoring for venues and my background is in marketing and public relations. We feel really lucky to be working on a project with our best mates, by the beach, and that is constantly evolving.
We have been working towards these renovations for over a year, so it feels so good to have them ticked off! In a way we were guided by the flaking paint of those walls. They formed the base of our colour palate, muted, calm but also slightly clashing. We used the same technique on the walls next door, stripping layers of the paint off to reveal muted yellow, blue and stone colours. Guiding our design direction was the influence of new evening trade, this meant including the café charms but with a sophisticated finish.
Gabi Scott one of the original owners is now an interior designer in Perth so we flew her over to weave her magic through the new space. With Gab guiding us through the world of interiors and our vision much clearer we took the reigns – Kilim cushions, recycled timber, concrete bar tops, zinc paint, heritage tiles & metals with patina. The result is a curated clash of patterns and finishes that reflect our personalities.
Sammy your a musician, a surfer and a fisherman (in your spare time) do all these aspects of lifestyle tie into the cafe vibe you have created here?
I started playing guitar and listening to music at the age of 5 so any occupation I pursued or business I started would have to be accommodating of my passion for music! Music is such a huge part of the Porch vibe, there are days when you’re like “ why am I feeling on edge or why am I struggling to concentrate?!” and then you realise that there’s music playing that has the wrong frequency or doesn’t suit the vibe of the day.
The mornings generally start out with something mellow like Bonobo, Four Tet, Dustin Tebbut, then as the day progresses, a bit more upbeat with some hip hop and then into blues or soul at night.
Being a cafe by the beach, we all enjoy the ocean and swimming or surfing is a huge part of our lives, it helps us stay fit and there’s nothing like a morning dip or surf to clear the mind. I grew up in a seaside town called Port Lincoln and my stepdad was a professional fisherman. I used to work with him from time to time and he taught me a lot about the industry and gave me a huge respect for the ocean and the produce that it provides for us. Where possible we use sustainably caught seafood at Porch and Parlour and do our best to communicate this to our customers.
Sarah, you recently took a few days out in Sri Lanka. Tell us why this was your chosen destination and the highlights of the trip.
I actually didn’t have a choice in the matter… but for all the right reasons! My very thoughtful business partners + sweet bunch of friends gifted me a week on the Paper Tiger Balance Break for some time out. The magic happens at The Talalla Surf & Yoga retreat, three hours South of Colombo and is run by my dear friends Jenna Kruiskamp and Casey Beros.
Our days were full of yoga, boxing on the beach, massages, surfing, cooking classes, reading, writing, afternoon adventures (safari, tea plantations) and a few cleansing cocktails (balance). Best part was it was shared with twelve other women, all there for similar reasons and were such quality company. Between early morning yoga and laughing with the girls there was plenty of time to stroll the lush palm tree lined coast, admire the hand painted fishing boats and reflect.
It was such a rewarding trip, everything from the location, the people, food, to the benefits of the retreat. We wrote to ourselves from the retreat (the writing workshop being a highlight), and it turned up in the mail recently – a tiny reminder to slow down, and reconnect daily but also escape to faraway places as travel rubs shoulders with inspiration, wonder and connection.
Tell us Rel, what’s in the THE VISTA cocktail?
It’s a mezcal sour…. It’s a bit of a one off or a special. Given the shoot and interview was with the VISTA, it was a travel inspired concoction. Having recently been travelling through Mexico and deepening my appreciation for Mezcal, I figured it was the best fit for said occasion.
The Cocktail Recipe:
60ml Nuestra Soledad Mezcal
30ml Fresh Lemon Juice
20ml Beetroot and Lemon Shrub Syrup
2 dashes Chocolat Mole Bitters
Mezcal in my eyes is highly versatile in cocktails and also great to sip on, which is how it’s served traditionally. We had been playing with new shrub syrup recipes for upcoming cocktail menus, and we were working on a beetroot and lemon variety. Shrubs are a vinegar based syrup that bring more to a drink than a regular sugar based syrup.
The earthiness and colour of this syrup fits so well with how I view Mexico, but also pairs up beautifully with the Mezcal in this Sour. A sour is never complete without bitters, and the Chocolate Mole compliments the drink adding a layer of complexity that suits, again both the flavour profile and the homage to Mexico.
What’s next for the Porch family? let’s get some funding happening for that future cookbook of yours!
We’re with you Julz! New year, new website & hopefully new Porch cookbook!
All images both at home with Sam and Sarah and in the cafe by Chris Prestidge
Read more about Bondi Beach, Australia in our latest travel guide x