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Better Together With Jacqui Lim

Over the next few months, Eat Easy will be taking over our Better Together segment in the coming months! With you, CAPI will be discovering more about the latest and greatest in Australian food & beverage. Because we think we’re all better together.

Kicking things off is Jacqui Lim: food advocate, connector of people with food, through food, and diner at more than 350 ever-changing Top 100 and Top 50 restaurants around the country, plus a number of World’s 50 Best and Michelin Star restaurants. If there’s a person who’s passionate about food, she’s it and we wanted to know more.


Would you mind giving a short introduction of yourself for the folks across Australia? 

I’m passionate about the food and wine industry. I like to refer to myself as a ‘food advocate’ and I see my purpose in life being connecting people with food and connecting people through food - whether it be organising food and wine events, sharing my experiences on Instagram, writing for my website, or just getting friends together to enjoy a meal.

I guess I’m simply a person who’s dedicated their life to eating out a lot, in fact I’m the only person who’s eaten at every Gourmet Traveller Top 100 restaurant in the country, and in the process, dined at over 350 Top 100 restaurants.


What does it mean to be Australian to you?

Being Australian is who I am. I’m a third generation Australian-born-Chinese on my mum’s side. My mum was born in Broome and my brother and I were born in Tassie. I feel extremely fortunate – we are certainly the lucky country.


Tell us about your work as a Food Advocate? What was the inspiration to begin down the path of Food Advocacy?



Well, I use the term ‘advocacy’ because I dislike the term ‘blogger’ and dislike the term ‘influencer’ even more – just because of the negative perceptions some people have when they hear those words.

Restaurants are my thing – they are where I feel the happiest and I feel like I’m in my natural habitat. Chefs, I have all respect for because firstly these are people who have dedicated their lives to what I enjoy the most! So for me, talking about them and sharing my experiences is just a natural thing to do.

I expect nothing from it, I just want to share the joy.

 


Tell us about Soi.38? What was the inspiration in starting such a beautiful space and what makes you guys a bit different?
 
Well, firstly, I can’t take credit for starting the restaurant – my husband Alex and I became business partners a few years ago, but we were taken with it from the first time we dined there. I guess co-owning a restaurant was a natural progression in what I do and it’s great to be involved in something that I believe in and am super-proud of.

The restaurant began serving street food snacks and dishes that couldn’t be found on the usual Adelaide Thai restaurant menus and over the years it’s evolved – the food has been elevated to showcase the dishes of Thailand’s regions, history and ethnic minority groups.
The menu is seasonal and recipes have been gathered by chef Terry from across regional and remote parts of Thailand, ethnic minority groups and hill tribes. Other recipes are sourced from historical records and handed down through family lines.
We highlight the best of local produce – for example, chicken and beef from Nomad Farms, pork from Boston Bay Small goods and pasture-raised eggs from Farmer Falkai.



What is your goal in what you do or what is the message you hope to get out?

For me it’s really just about sharing my food experiences. Being genuine, maintaining integrity, staying true to my brand. I just want to showcase good restaurants, chefs and produce. It’s about connecting people with good food – If I have a great experience, I want people to be able to experience it too. Whether it’s through my Instagram, my blog or organising an event, it’s about showcasing great food and great people.


What are some of your favourite bars and restaurants in Adelaide?

There are so many places I love and recommend to people. Current favourite restaurants include:
  • Soi.38 (of course)
  • Botanic Gardens Restaurant
  • Topiary
  • 2KW
  • Wah Hing
  • Fino Vino
  • Fishbank
And there’s a lot of good food in the wine regions – for example:
  • Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard
  • The Lane Vineyard
  • Maxwell Wines
Bars:
I don’t go to bars that often, but Paloma in Peel Street does the best Pisco Sour.


If you had to pick your favourite meal across Australia, what would it be? 

That’s a tricky one as it depends on if you’re talking about the food itself or the overall experience.

Some of my most memorable dining experiences would be Vue de Monde in Melbourne, Lumi Dining in Sydney, the first time I went to Momofuku in Sydney, and sitting up at the sushi bar at Minimashima in Melbourne.

Favourite and most memorable dishes include:
  • The Iced Oyster at Brae – it blew my mind!
  • The Wallaby Tail with black bean and chilli they used to do at Billy Kwong
  • The duck dish at Restaurant Hubert – the duck had been roasted and stuffed with duck sausage and served with pickled cherries and dijon jus


Tell us about being a part of Eat Easy. Why is it important to be a part of such a unique awards program?

I’m really excited to be involved. I feel very honoured to be on the judging panel and for me, it’s recognition for ALL of that eating I’ve done over the years and, most importantly, being acknowledged as someone credible in the food scene. I see it as a culmination of all the things I’ve been doing leading up to now.
It’s celebrating good people doing good things in food. People demonstrating a commitment to being environmentally conscious, using responsible practices, and making sure our natural resources aren’t depleted.
 
How do you see the food and restaurant industry developing over the next few years after the drastic shift our world has taken as a result of a global pandemic?
 
While it’s been sad to see a number of venues close down due to Covid, and no doubt there are more closures to come, I think the future is looking fairly bright for hospitality – well, I hope so as we’re about to move our restaurant to a bigger location.
 
Here in Adelaide we’re already seeing some exciting new places opening up, like Aurora, and Meat & Wine Co. and we’re seeing chefs moving around a bit which can add a different dimension to an existing place, for example Jack Ingram’s now at Jolleys Boathouse, and Justin James is now at Botanic Gardens Restaurant.
I think this pandemic has made people more appreciative of being able to dine out – people are still going to want to go out to have a good meal, to have a fun time, and a dining experience, as long as it’s value-for-money.
 
We’ve already seen some restaurant offerings change in terms of trading hours, seating times and fixed menus and/or smaller menus – but we’ll have to see how that evolves over time with what happens with Covid.
 
I would like to hope that diners are more appreciative of how difficult things have been for hospitality and to be more respectful and understanding.