Sabrina Ravail found her love of cooking at age five, laced between her grandmother’s legs in the kitchen, watching as the matriarch’s careful hands would finely julienne carrots and cucumbers. “It was my happy place,” said the half French, half German export, now whisking sandy buckwheat flour and filtered water into a silky batter, heating a pan in preparation to swivel her next batch of paper thin galettes.
Marché Gourmand is Sabrina’s labour of love, created on a whim while following her true love across the world to Brisbane. Coming to fruition at South Brisbane’s food start-up incubator Wandering Cooks, it is a French-inspired brunch and lunch pop-up rooted in holistic, mindful eating. “It means market, but it also means to walk somewhere. It’s a combination, meaning to always have food that’s fresh from the market,” she said.
“Local, vegetarian and seasonal” is what Sabrina promises, with each leafy spinach bunch and every blistered cherry tomato being organic, free from chemicals, and grown lovingly on a farm beneath Queensland’s blazing sun. Cooking the kind of food she herself enjoys, Sabrina is passionate about mindful eating. “It’s bringing the energy of the sun into our bodies. We become what we eat — literally! — so it’s important to stay mindful about what we consume, and where our produce comes from.”
The menu at Marché Gourmand is diverse, with the vow of wholesome bites tying the changing menus together. From olive and cashew tapenade wraps to pumpkin soup topped with crispy sesame kale, Sabrina changes her menu weekly to reflect her growing culinary skills. A background in beauty and academia is not the usual ingredients in the recipe of a good chef, so between hefty deliveries of cookbooks from her father in France and watching the pros slice and dice in online videos, Sabrina has taught herself the cooking ropes. “I look at what people do, and try to do it too.” But some skills cannot be learned from turmeric stained recipes — finesse is what she learned from her grandmother, assembling nutritionally dense food based on a gut feeling. “Every meal my grandmother made, she would just enjoy doing it. She would laugh in the kitchen and just throw everything she had in the fridge in a bowl, and I always used to think, how can something good come out of that?”
Breton galettes always grace the menu at Marché Gourmand, doughy steaming blankets of buckwheat wrapping earthy mixtures of vegetables, herbs and spices in its soft folds. Although the buckwheat wraps are classified vegan, Sabrina believes in eating intuitively, and not restricting oneself to trending labels. “I have a lot of vegan meals but it’s not out of any convictions, it’s just because sometimes you’ll have a meal where you don’t need any animal products. When you eat in a healthy way, you can come up with nice meals, without labels.”
Sabrina sums up her evolving gastro-adventure in the words of David Bowie, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
Images courtesy of Jonathan Nalder.