Pickled with Cornersmith's Alex Elliott-Howery
Cornersmith’s Alex Elliot-Howery threw herself into cooking while stuck at home with two young babies, researching food ethics and single-handedly deciding that she would make everything from scratch – no more packaging, supermarkets or out of season ingredients. From knocking on neighbours’ doors to pick the fruit wasting on their trees, she taught herself to pickle and preserve, and is now co-founder of two cafes, a cooking school and a picklery.
We caught up with Alex over a jar of beetroot and ginger relish and convinced her to teach at Yoga Cucina Goes Au Naturel…
How do you earn a crust?
My partner James and I have our own family run business, Cornersmith. We have cafes, a Picklery, a cooking school and two cookbooks.
Best part of what you do?
I love my work, so it’s hard to choose the best part. The people are great – we have awesome staff and customers, but I really love teaching cooking classes – our cooking school is informal and fun and I’m very passionate about food education. We have great students who are so keen to learn and lots of great conversations about pickles, seasonal eating, sustainability and food waste.
How do you feel when you’re in your flow?
I guess when I’m really in the flow, it doesn’t feel like work. Crunching numbers and paperwork feel like work, but teaching and a lot of the projects we do make me really happy. I’m probably quite addicted to the high of satisfying, creative, engaging hard work. Which is why I keep doing more!
Favourite project so far?
My kids are my all time favourite project, but on a work front making the cookbooks was a pretty amazing experience. I was shocked when the publishers approached us. It was all very new to me but I loved all the stages – the planning, the recipe writing and testing, the shoot. And then holding the finished book in my hands and seeing it bookshops! It was hard work but I loved it.
I’m actually trying not to dream up any more projects at the moment. My brain doesn’t stop and my partner has said no more ideas for a year! So, my dream project is to calm down and look after what we’ve got and be comfortable with it. I’ll let you know how it goes!
What drives you crazy?
Cage eggs and plastic straws make me furious. I’m constantly ranting at shop keepers and barmen. My family (especially the early teen) are really sick of me.
Top yoga pose, what and why?
Depends on my mood. I’m quite new to yoga but I’m loving it. Any kind of backbend pose makes me feel energised and alive and clear. But I was very happy it was restorative week this week and I could just lie down and breathe.
Song that gets you on the dance floor?
The kids are discovering their music taste at the moment and the house is full of very erratic playlists. I spent Saturday night at home with my son dancing to Macklemore and Post Malone and dyeing his hair pink.
Favourite place to travel?
We do a lot of road trips up and down the east coast. I’m in love with Bermagui. We also had an amazing holiday in a caravan at Scott’s Head at the beginning of the year.
What do you eat when you get there?
We eat really well when we’re away. I’m a pain in the arse and fill the car up with the pasta machine, the tortilla press and the paella pan. I spend a lot of time cooking on holidays and eating as many oysters as I can.
Want more? Cook with Alex here.
Photographed by Andrew Butler