22 January 2023

Five minutes with Rachel Fowler, The Press

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Rachel Fowler

Rachel Fowler opened The Press six months ago. Photo: The Press.

Who is Rachel Fowler? I’m the owner of The Press. I grew up in Young, spent the last 10 to 15 years living away and moved back to the country earlier this year. I’ve always wanted to open The Press, but I never thought it was doable. I wanted to move back to the country, and I thought I should just do it.

Best recent dining experience: I’ve had lots of great dining experiences but I think it’s easier to remember my favourite.

My favourite dining experience is at a place called Barrafina in London. It’s such a great restaurant and the food is amazing. You sit up at the bar and watch them cook it, saying, “Oh, I’ll have one of those and those’ – it is the best vibe. My friend used to do their PR, and we were so broke, but we could always afford to eat at the Barrafina because we would get such a good discount! We were the poorest people in London but eating at the best restaurant ever! I think if you have good company and nice food, what’s not to like?

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Favourite cuisine: I eat everything. My favourite cuisine … I can’t even answer that. I think we’re really lucky in Australia. We have such a multicultural country and we have really good food. I couldn’t even pick a favourite type of cuisine.

Most embarrassing pantry item: I think my pantry is embarrassing, to be honest, because I just buy things and never touch them. I buy such yummy things, and I never get around to opening them! I love cooking but I don’t think I’ve properly cooked at home for about 6 months!

Carrot cake

Carrot cake is a must-try at The Press. Photo: The Press.

What ingredient can I not live without? Butter.

Best coffee spot in Wagga: I love our coffee. Our baristas are so good. They make really good coffee, and they really care about it. They’re always tweaking and asking, ‘Is it good enough?’. I love the whole experience with our coffee, from the whole bean up until after my last sip.

I still get coffee at least once a week from Meccanico, and before I opened The Press, I would religiously go there every day. Karl and Katie have become great friends, and it’s nice to have people in the industry to be a sounding board.

The Press uses Art of Espresso coffee beans. Photo: The Press.

What’s your coffee blend? Art of Espresso.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene: There is so much potential here. I think Wagga is the next big thing. I feel like we’re on the cusp of really good things. I keep hearing about things that are coming up, and I know people who are trying to do new and exciting stuff. We’re a big community, and we deserve variety. There’s a sophisticated market here, and people are starting to realise that. I can’t believe how much has popped up in the six months I’ve been open.

The Press’s delicious chicken roll. Photo: The Press.

A must-try on our menu: Our Reuben and breakfast sandwich are the most popular. I think everything on our menu is a must-try. I spent a lot of time putting the menu together, perfecting, tweaking and changing

Also our carrot cake, brownies and our bran muffins. They have a cult following. People are coming especially for them … I never expected that.

My biggest culinary influence: Hands down, 100 per cent, my mum – she is an exceptional cook. She used to have a catering business when we were growing up, which she did with her best friend. I still call my mum all the time, almost every day, with a cooking question. She’s very helpful. My parents are also really good entertainers and take great pleasure in doing it. They know how to throw a good party, and I come from a long line of people who like to get together and eat. It’s about who you eat with and what you do, and my family have always been very big on the whole experience.

Freshly baked cookies. Photo: The Press.

Favourite cookbook: I love Yotam Ottolenghi. I love all his books. He’s just amazing and so clever. He does amazing baked sweets, salads, and beautiful marinades and everything he does has a lot of herbs and spices. I also love Neil Perry. He released a book last year called “Everything I Love to Cook” and it is divine. And I also love Donna Hay. Anything I make of hers is simple and delicious.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene: Frank Coorey from My Chef. Frank is a great bloke and has been very supportive and helpful with my business. He and his wife Zoe make ready meals, and they are delicious. I used to get them delivered when I opened the business, and I had no time. Their ingredients are locally sourced, and everything is so tasty. My favourite is the harissa chicken. They’re doing a really good thing for time-poor people.

Roast cauliflower salad with lemon yogurt dressing. Photo: The Press.

What are this week’s specials at The Press? We always do a sandwich special that runs from Wednesday to Saturday, and we name it after a customer that comes in. Our weekly sandwich specials are always our best sellers of the week. We also do a daily salad.

Death row meal: I think pasta of some description. I love pasta, and I probably want to have champagne with that.

Reuben sandwiches are also a must-try. Photo: The Press.

My top three cooking tips: I just have one. Don’t ever use anything that is low-fat. Go full fat because it will taste better. Fat is delicious.

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