This time I’ve headed to the Secret Buddha Cafe in Burnie to shoot the breeze with Stephen Bock who owns the cafe with his gorgeous wife Diane.
What made you decide to open your latest café?
We were attracted firstly, to the form of the building and then to its setting. It is mindful of a Tibetan gompa or a Mongolian yurt. We loved that you couldn’t see it from the road. Thus the Secret Buddha. We have taken down the signage, we don’t have a telephone listing. The café exists by reputation alone.
What is The Secret Buddha’s philosophy?
To quote our menu: “We strive to source premium local ingredients that are organic where possible, seasonal, fresh, and in their prime. We believe that there is a strong connection between what we eat and who we are.”
Basically, real food for real people. We were increasingly bored with café menus which were, essentially, identical. Processed food, deep frying, sauces and dressings out of packets, short cuts galore and toasted sandwiches. We make all our own relishes, jams, sauces, dressings, cakes; In fact everything that hits the table is house made with the exception of the breads and even they are made for us and to our specification.
Biggest joy about running the Secret Buddha?
It’s always about the customers. We have regulars who have been following us, from place to place, for eight years. Hospitality is hard work and without fulfilling interaction with your customers it would hardly be worth the effort.
You are a champion of PTTP including being a drop off point and hosting the monthly veggie swap. What is it about PTTP that sparked your interest to be involved?
Produce to the People is, or ought to be, a no-brainer. If we don’t learn to practice sustainability in all aspects of our lives we are unlikely to be able to cope in a climate changed future. We have spent the last couple of hundred years taking from the planet it might well be time to start giving back. PTTP gives us that opportunity in a grass roots way.
Favourite thing to eat from your current menu?
We like to be playful with our menu choices. Currently we are intrigued by the “dude food” scene which has been described as comfort food with polish. Our Texas pulled pork slider with wasabi coleslaw comes from that “irony on a plate” movement.. The pork is cooked for eight hours in an intense collection of sauces, spices and herbs. Ideally, it should slide down your chin when you are eating it. Yum.
Describe yourself in three words?
Grumpy old barista
Last supper, who and what?
Certainly at Luke Burgess’s Garagistes in Hobart. Foraged food and natural wines. Diane, myself and His Holiness the Dalai Lama (I have a few unresolved questions about karma).
What is your super power?
Chanelling Maynard G Krebbs
A sustainable living tip?
Love the planet (it’s the only one we’ve got).
Secret Buddha Cafe can be found at 63 West Park Grove, Burnie. You can leave your excess home grown there for PTTP to collect, and join us on the second Saturday of the month for our Community Veggie Swap.