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Homegrown safari

northsider chats to SBS food adventurer Maeve O’Meara about a gourmet destination that’s very close to home

First published in northsider Autumn 2019

Maeve O'Meara, North Sydney, local, SBS, Food Safaris

UPDATE: Love the Northside Produce Market as much as Maeve and missing it right now because of Covid-19? Head online! The markets have launched virtually here, connecting producers and stall holders with locals. You can also head to to order fresh fruit and vegies and artisan goodies from stallholders. The team are the same people behind the Cheese Puff Company who have a stall at the markets.

As one of Australia’s favourite foodies, SBS presenter Maeve O’Meara’s passion for fresh produce and new dishes has taken her all over the world.

For the past 12 years, she’s travelled from the outback to the beach (and back again) for her tv show, Food Safari, transporting viewers to kitchens from Broome to Brisbane.

And for the past two decades, her food tour company, Gourmet Safaris, has offered tasty trips based around culinary experiences both in Australia and exotic countries overseas such as Turkey and Vietnam.

"Food opens doors, it brings generations together and gives such happiness"

But there’s a tempting spot that’s a lot closer to home that really makes Maeve’s mouth water – North Sydney’s very own Northside Produce Market.

“I just love farmer’s markets,” the lower north shore local enthuses. “You buy differently, cook differently and taste differently. The spirit of the market and all that delicious produce… it’s the stuff of life!”

This year sees the iconic North Sydney market celebrate its 20th anniversary and Maeve was there right at the start.

“The opening of the market was a great moment for the area,” she remembers. “It added life and spirit to the place.

“Food opens doors, it brings generations together and gives people such happiness.

The hard work of the providores and the growers is amazing and the markets really knitted the community together.”

Back in 1999, Maeve and co-presenter of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Australia, Jo Savill, toasted the market’s opening with a welcome speech and a steaming cup of coffee.

And ten years on, Maeve and her foodie friends donned their red aprons and held a cooking demonstration on the lawn.

Just before Christmas last year she was back again, this time as a stallholder, signing copies of her latest bestselling book Food Safari: Earth, Fire, Water.

“The book captures the spirit of the TV series,” Maeve explains. “It’s a celebration of multicultural Australia. It’s not big-name chefs. We throw the spotlight on to the voices, faces and recipes of home chefs instead.”

“It’s always very exciting to go back to the market,” she continues. “There’s certainly a lot more stalls these days and there’s always so much to discover.”

Having visited markets from Sardinia to the Greek Islands and, of course, Miller Street, Maeve has some top tips for your next Northside visit.

“Dive in,” she encourages. “Go early and immerse yourself in the market, walk around and find your favourite stalls. And always take extra money! Because there’s temptation everywhere.”


Then & now

Celebrating the market’s 10 year anniversary above; and left, Maeve’s stall at the end of last year


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