Shannon Martinez has cooked since she can remember and due to the influence of her Spanish paternal family and her outside the square, innovative talents she’s contributed to kitchens across Melbourne over the past nearly 20 years. Shannon eats meat, but has perfected her vegetarian – and latterly – vegan repertoire saying this is what makes her food so good; she tries to replicate the tastes and textures of meat, rather than putting out bland, predictable, vegan food.
Shannon, with business partner, Mo Wyse opened their restaurant, Smith & Daughters on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy in 2014. Food lovers went nuts. Almost immediately, they had grown to 40 staff and were doing 400 covers a night. In July 2015, they opened Smith & Deli, in nearby Moor Street an all vegan convenience store and deli. The idea here is a carefully curated selection of all vegan groceries, and freshly made pastries, salads and take-home vegan meals. There are also 32 made-to-order sandwiches, “cheese” and “meat” by the kilo – and, often, queues out the door.
Martinez & Wyse have since published their first book Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens to be Vegan). Across 7 chapters, including big plates, small plates, salads, sweets, dressings and drinks, Smith & Daughters offers 80+ delicious vegan recipes with a Spanish twist to recreate at home. From ‘chorizo’ and potato, Spanish ‘meatballs’ in a saffron almond sauce, chipotle cashew ‘cheese’, ‘tuna’ and green pea croquettes to doughnuts, the recipes give new inventive life to classics that appeals to meat and vegetarian eaters alike.
Many people believe veganism is a trend, that all vegan food tastes the same, boring, bland way and, above all, that it is uncreative, not filling and lacks flavour. Shannon Martinez has always ignored convention in favour of plant-based innovation in the kitchen. Forget your preconceptions of vegan food, Shannon challenges them all.
WHAT’S A NORMAL DAY FOR YOU?
6am wake up, off to work, work, training (at the gym), cooking dinner, reading cook books, watching food TV, go to bed.
FROM YOUR EARLIER YEARS AT THE EAST BRUNSWICK CLUB, OPENING YOUR OWN
RESTAURANT AND DELI, AND NOW WRITING A COOKBOOK, WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT OVER THE YEARS?
The opening of the restaurant. Or the book, I cant decide between the two. Maybe the book.
WHAT EMPOWERS YOU?
Seeing a full house every night, knowing that whatever we do is obviously making people happy. Obviously making it worth it to keep doing what we do.
ASIDE FROM BEING AN INCREDIBLE CHEF YOU’VE ALSO SPENT TIME PLAYING IN BANDS AND EVEN TOURING
AS PART OF THE VANS WARPED TOUR. DO YOU EVER MISS IT OR HAVE ANY PLANS TO CONTINUE PLAYING IN BANDS?
I 100% miss it and it’s constantly on my mind. I’m in a position now where, with the deli and with my hours working out of the deli, maybe I can get back into it.
WHO’S SOMEONE THAT DESERVES MORE RECOGNITION?
Grandmothers, and their food.
YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH OVER THE YEARS, WHAT’S NEXT?
I want to bring our food to a more wider and more global audience.
DAY BY THE POOL OR DAY IN THE OUTBACK?
POOL. Who would choose the outback?!
WHAT’S ON YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW?
I can tell you exactly… Betty Davis, Nashville Pussy, Patushka
DO YOU A SPECIAL TALENT OF YOURS THAT PEOPLE MAY NOT BE AWARE OF?
Finding amazing hotels. I’m a hotel ninja. And buying people really good gifts. I love doing that.
WHAT’S A MOMENT THAT’S TAKEN YOUR BREATH AWAY?
The opening of the restaurant. The moment we walked out to do the thank you speech and to see the full of people coming to support what we do after the risk we took. It was more than I ever expected. And I felt super humbled and nervous and humbled. Cause there was a certain expectation that came along with that. Stress nervousness and excitement are what do it for me and what help push me everyday.
You can taste Shannon’s incredible creations at both Smith & Deli and Smith & Daughters
OR you can purchase a copy of their cookbook (that happens to be vegan) at all your favourite book stores and webstores.
We can’t wait to see what Shannon and the team of incredible people that she works with get up to in the future.
Show her some love x