3 December 2022

Five minutes with Kylie and Michael Cashen, Bidgee Strawberries and Cream

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Kylie and Michael Cashen

Kylie and Michael Cashen on a dinner date at the strawberry farm. Photo: Supplied.

Who are Kylie Cashen and Michael Cashen? The owners of Bidgee Strawberries and Cream, Wagga Wagga.

Kylie – My first career was as a food technologist working for Sanitarium Health Food Company in food product development, which is one of my passions. And then we needed to move to the country for better work opportunities in agriculture. So I retrained to become a teacher and I teach maths at a local school, and my side gig is coming up with new ideas for the foods that we can sell here.
Michael – Kylie’s life partner and father of her children. I’ve got a degree in agricultural science and got qualifications in agriculture, and I currently work with the Department of Primary Industries as a researcher. We both work locally and this is (strawberry farm) our plan B. We’ve been running the business for five years and it’s growing each year. We’ve both got complementary skills and both come from broad agriculture backgrounds … growing and making things is what we do. We don’t have extensive family farms … what you see is what we’ve made. We’re at an age now where our kids have sort of left home and work in our business from time to time, but they’re independent. We couldn’t have done it before when the kids were smaller.

Best recent dining experience:

Kylie – Agapi, a Greek restaurant in Melbourne.

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Favourite cuisine:

Kylie – I love all food.
Michael – Thai food.

Most embarrassing pantry item:

Kylie – I’ve got a bottle of some kind of vegetable oil that I bought to make crispy potatoes and I’ve never used it because I don’t like to use any of those kinds of oil. I’m an olive oil girl. So if anyone wants a full bottle …
Michael – Tumeric.
Kylie –
That’s not even a pantry item …

strawberry puree

Kylie and Michael pride themselves on producing delicious fare that makes a lasting impression on visitors. Photo: Bidgee Strawberries and Cream.

What ingredient can I not live without?

Michael – Probably tea.
Kylie – Tea? Ingredient. You can’t go without a cup of tea?
Michael – You. I was talking about you.
Kylie – I’ll answer for me, you answer for you.
Michael – Porridge. I really like rolled oats with honey.
Kylie – Olive oil from Wollundry Grove Olives.

Best coffee spot in Wagga:

Kylie I don’t drink coffee.
Michael I think Trail Street.

milkshake at strawberry farm

Bidgee Strawberries and Cream’s must-try milkshake. Photo: Bidgee Strawberries and Cream.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene:

Kylie – Definitely Bidgee Strawberries and Cream!
Michael – We could have a Greek restaurant.
Kylie –
Definitely an authentic Greek restaurant.

A must-try on our menu:

Kylie – Our strawberry ice cream. We only use Riverina Fresh milk and their cream.

My biggest culinary influence:

pancakes with strawberries

Bidgee Strawberries and Cream’s pancakes with strawberries and ice cream. Photo: Bidgee Strawberries and Cream.

Kylie – We were both brought up on meat and three veg. That’s been our biggest influence. It means we don’t want to have a bland, boring diet anymore.

Favourite cookbook:

Kylie – Does it have to be a book? Because I enjoy researching on Google.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene:

Kylie – I really admire our beekeeper, Phil Roberts from Bohemian Bees and Blooms. An absolute gem of a person. He’s all about sustainability.

What are this week’s specials at Bidgee Strawberries and Cream?

Kylie – Pancakes has been something that is quite popular. Pancakes with strawberry ice cream.
Michael – And the Bidgee special … milkshake.
Kylie – It got rated 10 out of 10 by ”Rate a shake” on Instagram.

tray of strawberries

Kylie and Michael’s flavour-packed strawberries. Photo: Bidgee Strawberries and Cream.

Death-row meal:

Kylie – Roast lamb with peas and homemade gravy.
Michael – Prawns, brown bread, and a bottle of black beer.
Kylie – You know, like cooked in boiling water and salt … that’s him.

My least-favourite food:

Kylie –Licorice.
Michael – Brussels sprouts.

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My COVID-19 response:

Kylie – For the business, it was very challenging, and we didn’t move forward as quickly. We have a lot of our income from group excursions.
Michael – It’s been a reality check for people.

My top-three cooking tips:

Kylie – Adding olive oil and salts. Cook everything in the oven. Steer clear of junk food.
Kylie – Actually, no, we should say eat lots of ice cream and make sure it’s strawberry ice cream.
Michael – We’ve recently had some health challenges, so we started to become aware of the impact lots of carbs have on us. So limit carbs, avoid too many cakes and pastries, and make most of your meals vegies, with smaller portions of meat.

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