Team Buffet's First Jobs in Food
Before editing Broadsheet and working in agencies overseas, we were slinging pies and serving salads in tubs. Here's a throwback to the high school food hustles of Team Buffet.By Buffet
The makings of Team Buffet sprung from humble beginnings before we all blossomed into fully-fledged, creative-content-creating adults. One of us was Broadsheet Sydney’s first editor and brought along some of their best with her. Another shot for global key food publications and cookbooks, one worked for glittering London agencies, and we even have a specialist in the land of #caketok in our midst. You could argue our love for food, and ultimately our expertise on how to sell it, was there, from, well, at least age 14. This week we look back on how the team’s love for food ran deep even as teenagers working our sometimes cringeworthy, yet no less formative, first-ever jobs. Follow us down memory lane?
Sophie McComas-Williams, Director
Job: Server in the deli section of the Macro Organic Market in Crows Nest (2006), which I guess was the first “chain” organic market of its time in Sydney (and later gobbled up by Woolworths). I ground the parmesan, I sliced the ham, I decanted the salads into bowls from giant salad buckets. I juiced, oh boy did I juice. I LOVED IT.
Highlight: Free reign over the taramasalata tub, being able to eye-ball the perfect 100g weight of sliced leg ham and serving Cate Blanchett a small tabouli. No one else seemed to think this was a big deal at the time?
Lowlight: Restocking the chicken section of the walk-in freezer. So cold. So chickeny.
Costume: Cap, apron, paired with an insistent and somewhat pushy love for cheese.
Issy Plasto, Production and Studio Coordinator
Job: Food van delivery driver aka smoko chick at Farmer’s Bakehouse in Dubbo. I drove a huge van, ‘The Merc’, selling pies, sauso rolls and pastries to the tradies of Dubvegas for their smoko break (morning tea, for those unacquainted). All to save big $$ for my #eurogapyear.
Highlight: Bantering with the guys, working with my childhood bestie and having the freedom to eat anything on the van — I quickly understood the ol’ tale of ‘gap fat’ thanks to the infinite custard tarts and spinach and feta rolls.
Lowlight: The lack of technology on the van + being a mathematically challenged individual + trying to serve 15 tradies at once = calculating change quickly was embarrassingly difficult.
Costume: A lovely poo-brown polo T-shirt, black shorts, joggers and big blow-fly sunnies. The ultimate daggy-comfort uniform.
Nikki To, Director
Job: Shop attendant at Vina Bakehouse in Willoughby. I’d get up at 7am and walk to the bakery and serve the people all their bakery needs; bap rolls, whole loaves freshly sliced, mini pizzettes, vanilla slices and alllll the pies.
Highlight: Trying all the different pies each week on lunch break. Brrrr.
Lowlight: Trying all the different pies each week on lunch break. Lol.
Costume: White t-shirt and jeans, apron.
Megan Gordon, Strategy and Content Manager
Job: Cash register/shop attendant at a local mini-mart for a six-hour Sunday shift. Not only was it stocked with all the necessary emergency items (bread, milk, Panadol), it was also a deli of sorts, with a variety of cold meats, cheeses and nice things suspended in herby-oils. I don’t recall how or why I came into this work, but I liked the corned beef slices I got to take home.
Highlight: 16-year-old me was told I could use the landline to make phone calls, which I really took on board. In between serving little kids lolly bags, cutting cold meat cuts and cheese, and running up emergency milk and bread buys, I was on the phone to one of my two besties. For most of the shift. Keep in mind: I spent eight hours a day, five days a week with these people (pictured above enjoying a meal at our local Chinese). God knows what we talked about.
Lowlight: With a brain mostly in the clouds at this point in my life, I wasn’t particularly well versed in the art of change. I truly found the act of having to calculate how much to give back to customers a heart-stopping exercise (the till didn’t do this for some unknown reason). I’m almost certain I completely ripped some off and or gave people a generous tip just for dropping in.
Costume: Smart casual, which no doubt translated, at the time, to a fetching pair of long denim shorts and a colour block ESPRIT fleece/tee.
Rose Howard, Content Editor and Development
Job: This one’s actually an internship from Year 7, which took place at a family friend’s cafe on Abercrombie St, Darlington. Why'd I intern at a cafe? Who knows why anyone does anything at age 13. Pure nepotism, maybe. If you’re a ‘Fern local, you’ll definitely know it. Cafe Ella’s been around for decades, is a bit of a local institution and serves the best boiled blueberry bagels of all time.
Highlight: Learning to carry trays full of precariously full flat whites up a narrow flight of stairs, and working the grill station. But mostly, the free lunches.
Lowlight: Spilling precariously full coffees up said flight of narrow stairs.
Costume: Whatever I wanted! Probably glitter jeans.
Gemma Plunkett, Content Editor
Job: Not a *job* in the true sense, but every year when the Annual Warren Show rolled around, I’d start prepping my entries. Sponge cake (chocolate and classic of course), scones, cupcakes and the almighty marble cake. All would be baked up and submitted before the show for judging and the anticipation builds till the pavilion opens and the winners revealed. Two dollars for first prize, $1 for second and $10 for a most successful exhibitor — the stakes were high.
Highlight: Reap the rewards with a speedy round on the dodgem cars followed by a dagwood dog whilst watching the shearing competition.
Lowlight: Blowing all my earnings within hours of collection.
Costume: Jelly sandals, showbag on arm, sugar high.
Julia Bowdler, Graphic Designer
Job: Pharmacy shop assistant, thank you very much.
Highlight: The people! I’m still in contact with them. Especially my work mum, Harsha, who every shift supplied us with Masala Chai teas and pickles or curry sandwiches to get us through the morning or evening rush hour. One birthday she gifted me my very own spice rack and recipes which I still have today.
Lowlight: Giving adults health advice when I was 15, inexperienced and just reading off the back of a packet.
Costume: A beautiful patterned blouse and black skinny jeans and black vans, my teenage wardrobe staples.
Georgia Mahood, Intern
Job: One of the classic first jobs, a KFC cashier at the ripe old age of 15.
Highlight: The free chicken at the end of night and sneaking a chip throughout the shift. Plus, standing in the drinks fridge to avoid working.
Lowlight: The entire job, lol. Oh and watching people beat each other up in the carpark and then come in for a zinger burger with blood dripping down their face :). Good story, scary times.
Costume: Black cap, hat and pants with the Colonel’s face slapped across it all.
Molly Urquhart, Content and Copy Editor
Job: Ice-cream scooper at In The Pink, Byron Bay.
Highlight: Squishing the fresh mangoes with your hands for the sorbet and taking home alllllllllll the lemon sorbet. Still my favourite ever, 1253654323 years later. I also served Hamish Blake once, that was pretty festive.
Lowlight: No lowlight. It was the BEST JOB EVER, for a 14 year old.
Costume: In The Pink was a casual affair. It was a shorts-and-branded-t-shirt situation, and I wore a pair of incredibly impractical silver brogues to work for about one year. I resigned before they made the dad caps mandatory.