Aussie culinary ringmaster plating up around the globe


Running away with the circus is a far cry from where Queensland born Shane ‘Skip’ Schipper thought he’d ever he.

Spending his formative years in the small town of Mount Morgan, Shane had thought he’d go on to be a mechanic – but with a recession at the time and a shortage of jobs he decided to study food and beverage instead.

Little did he know that decision would eventually lead him down the circus path, travelling to more than 30 countries cooking up all manner of dishes for the crew of Cirque Du Soleil, with wife Amanda Quayle documenting their travels along the way in her blog – Graze The Earth.

Shane’s real love affair with food began while he was working at the then named ‘Powerhouse’ – a five star boutique hotel in Brisbane. He then moved to Macau, and it was working in a casino a friend told him of the role coming up at Cirque Du Soleil. With wife Amanda enthusiastic about the adventures and opportunities it would provide, he applied, and the rest as they say, is history.

The role takes the pair all over the world (they’re now in North America until the end of the year), where Shane creates dishes highlighting the local cuisine, always inviting the local Cirque employees to bring their families along to join the feast.

Recently in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, they served pierogi (polish dumplings), borsch (soup), polish sausages and deli meats with slow roasted goose leg and cherries; while in the west German city of Dusseldorf it was schnitzels, pretzels followed by sushi, teriyaki chicken and edamame to pay homage to the large Japanese population.

Shane says it’s not all clowning around cooking, and there are many challenging times, particularly around Christmas and New Year, “we love camping and it’s hard to see all the sunshine and blue water at home where we are walking to work in zero temperatures”.

He says it can also be hard to find suppliers in new markets because they are only in each city for six to eight weeks, “my main concern though is always trying to keep everyone happy, because there are around 20 different nationalities on tour”.

But, he says all in all it’s an incredible experience and really the only way to top it would be becoming an OAM (Official Accompanying Member) on tour.

“Really not much could top this,” well, he says, “if I can get Amanda to find a job with Cirque then we can always switch places and I can fish for a living!”

For more on Shane’s travelling circus:

To follow Amanda and Shane’s culinary journey:


Travel Writers Radio available as a podcast 24×7

For the latest in food, wine and travel news, you now have some extra options.  Travel Writers Radio, an initiative of the Professional Association of Lifestyle and Travel Writers (PALAT), offers members the opportunity to broadcast their stories and have them heard live on Melbourne’s 87.8 FM every Wednesday between 5 pm and 7 pm Melbourne time; it is also broadcast live on the Internet at the same time; and recognising that many of our listeners are in other States or outside Australia, we have a  SoundCloud Pro site.  So now you can listen to the exact story you want to hear without wading through a two-hour podcast.  Just go to and you can keep up with the latest in food wine lifestyle and travel for business or pleasure anytime and anywhere.  For more information or to get in touch with the program producers, email:

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Mornington Peninsula family business to offer locally grown frozen berries

matildasWith supermarket shelves depleted of frozen berries in the wake of the Hepatitis A scare from contaminated imported berries, the Gallace family from Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne has stepped up to ensure safe local berry supplies. They told Travel Writers Radio that they would use berries from Sunny Ridge, the family’s 800 acre farm lands to provide frozen strawberries initially to major supermarkets. They expect to commence deliveries in June. Speaking with TravelWritersRadio host Peter Watson, co-owner Ruth Gallace said today the family also grew raspberries, blueberries and cherries at their properties and intended to provide national distribution.  The couple already produce and distribute a 100% real fruit cider under the Rebello brand. Ruth said the idea had been in the pipeline for some time but was not considered viable, however the current increase in demand changed all that. “We were already seeing a major shift in consumer attitudes towards local produce as people become more and more discerning and this latest situation has propelled that motivation to buy local.” The couple even earned congratulations from Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has congratulated the Gallace family on their initiative, saying: “It is good to see Australian businesses looking at ways to expand further and I wish the Matilda’s brand every success with their new berry products.”

The interview can be heard on

Graeme Kemlo

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150 reasons to celebrate at Travel Writers Radio

This week Travel Writers Radio celebrates its 150th episode.   In a little over three years the show has amassed about 1000 interviews and more than 800 of them are now available to download at https:/

Travel Writers Radio is produced and presented by the Professional Association of Lifestyle and Travel Writers (PALAT) Travel Writers Radio is a weekly program covering the “flavours” of travel – food, beverages, wellness and lifestyle – plus all forms of travel and tourism experiences whether for business or leisure.  Travel and tourism is a vital economic activity for many countries and we are Australia’s only prime-time radio program covering the business events/MICE sector.  Importantly, we interview the people making a difference in our industry, people who love their jobs and happily share their stories, their interesting destinations or the serendipity of simply wandering the world.

Heard every Wednesday drive time ( from 5 pm to 7pm ) on J-AIR 87.8FM radio in Melbourne, Travel Writers Radio also broadcasts live via the Internet at We have iOS and Android smartphone apps and we have a podcast facility, now hosted on our own SoundCloud site – https:/

As a PALAT member we invite you to contribute editorial content to the show. If you are a member of the travel industry we welcome your story suggestions on topics you believe would be of interest to our audience. Just email us –

PALAT members are professional journalists, authors, photographers, videographers and broadcasters – all storytellers working across a range of media from print to online.  If you fit one of these categories, or are studying a recognised tertiary degree course in any of these disciplines we welcome your inquiry about membership. We currently have members across Australasia, USA, and Europe. We’re a small but growing organisation with local experience and a global perspective of the benefits of travel to broaden the mind and enlighten both reporter and listener.


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Feed your soul in Sydney’s Blue Mountains


The act of hiking is as much a lasting memory to me as the final breathtaking scenery awarded at the end of the long journey.

Cutty grass slicing its name in my calf muscles, overgrown branches with wet leaves sliding across my face, lizards darting into deep bush at the sound of stones crunching under my feet. I feel like it adds to the experience, allowing me to truly feel I have earned the right to the majestic views it brings.

But that’s not for everyone, and what is so remarkable about Sydney’s Blue Mountains is that anyone can experience those same final lasting moments of truly breathtaking beauty, regardless if you walk four days (which we didn’t), four hours (closer to it), or four minutes – and it’s all within an easy 74 kilometre drive from Sydney.

From the city’s northern beaches, where my English girlfriend and hiking companion lives, we hardly covered two topics of conversation before we pulled into Katoomba township.

Our accommodation, Sky Rider Motor Inn,

proved a suitable choice. Clean and comfortable and well suited to our needs – a bed for the night in a central location allowing us to cover off the local townships.

It’s this reasonably priced, quiet accommodation which during peak season was little more than A$145 a night, which makes the experience so broadly appealing and accessible.

Our room had a double bed, couch which folded out to a small double bed, a desk, and small, but highly functional bathroom, equipped with all the little bottled bathroom necessities you’re left at any good hotel.

The staff promptly pulled out a map on our arrival and circled and pointed to all the hot spots, making some great dining recommendations along the way.

We decided to initially set off on the Blackhead’s Govett’s leap track after researching the Blue Mountains website.

After almost half a day of walking, a small detour (which may have been a result of talking rather than observing signage), and a storm quickly brewing, we passed waterfalls dropping 180 metres to the base of the cliff and were met with what I can only describe as majestic views.

Since the 1800s the air of the Blue Mountains has been promoted as a health tonic, and my soul certainly drank it up.

There’s something spiritual about the uneven lush landscape and no matter how hard you try, you can’t see beyond the rolling mountain-scape.

For those not wanting to get amongst the bush, a visit to the Three Sisters in Katoomba is a must.

Drive to end of the main street in Katoomba and there they are in all their glory.

The Three Sisters is essentially a rock formation, which Aboriginal legend says represents three sisters who were turned to stone because they fell in love with three men from another tribe.

For an alternative to hiking and/or sightseeing a visit to the township of Leura will meet any shopping addict’s needs, with great cafes when you’re done perusing the quaint shops.

No visit to a local township is complete without experiencing local artisans and their wares, and there’s no better place than The Nook, which sells everything from hand-made children’s clothing and dolls to gorgeous art works, all at a reasonable price.

Back in Katoomba we decided to dine locally, and headed to the 100-year-old ‘Old Bank’, which is part of the Carrington Hotel.

We didn’t make it to the brasserie upstairs, we were impressed enough by the cosy English style pub and gourmet food on offer. Think aubergine, cumin and mint relish; smoked salmon with mini roast potatoes and dill, and king prawns wrapped in pancetta, all washed down with local wines and craft beer.

Driving back to Sydney reminiscing over the images of the blue haze of the mountainous terrain, this is a trip you need in your travel memory bank, and once you’ve done it, you’ll be left not just ticking it off the bucket list, but planning your next visit.

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Melbourne Minute – Docklands Arts, Laughs and Blues Festival

There’s still a couple of days left of school holidays and if you’ve run out of ideas to entertain the kids, never fear, as today marks the start of the Docklands Arts, Laughs and Blues Festival, which you guessed it, features all things arts, laughs and blues.

Running for five days until Sunday, the Wonderland Spiegeltent will be the centre of the action where one of the major highlights will be Michael Boyd’s Spellbound Illusion Spectacular on daily.

Wonderland Fun Park will host family day on Saturday featuring Snap’s Kakadu Club with ventriloquist Lindi Jane, and mini puppet show performed by Lana Schwarcz, The Tiniest Show on Earth.

For adults, there’s the Docklands Arts, Laughs and Blues Comedy Gala on Saturday night starring funny men Peter Helliar and Bob Franklin.

And on Sunday, there’ll be a free, all-day music festival with 20 Blues bands on five stages.

For more information and to book tickets visit

And that’s the Docklands Arts, Laughs and Blues Festival for the Melbourne Minute.

Melbourne Minute – Royal Melbourne Show

The Royal Melbourne Show kicks off this weekend at the Melbourne Showgrounds and while I highly recommend the planning app to make the most of your visit, here’s a guide to this year’s Show in a minute.

If you’ve got little ones then the Jayco Animal Nursery is the place to be, housing more than 450 animals and a patting pen.

For foodies, visit the Tastes of Victoria Pavilion, which is home to the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Deli and pop-up restaurant featuring dishes from some of Melbourne’s hottest restaurants.

If you’re a fan of MasterChef then take a behind-the-scenes look at the show on a Kitchen Tour – you may even bump into a former contestant!

Justice Crew and Dami Im are just some of the music stars that will perform in the Herald Sun Entertainment Dome, and finally, you simply can’t leave the Show without a show bag. This year there’s 385 on offer including the $2 iconic Bertie Beetle show bag.

The Royal Melbourne Show runs until Wednesday, 1 October.

For more information and to book tickets visit

And that’s the Royal Melbourne Show for the Melbourne Minute.

Melbourne Minute – Melbourne’s Best Market Traders

Melbourne’s Best Market Traders have been revealed this week in the 2014 MYOB Melbourne Market Awards as part of Melbourne Market Week. There were 12 categories with winners selected from Melbourne’s big four markets.

The Prahran Market was home to the most winners including Gary’s Quality Meats in the category of ‘Meat’, Claringbold’s Seafood in ‘Seafood’, Sweet Greek in ‘Speciality Food’, Flawless Flowers in ‘Nursery and Flowers’, Little Sweethearts in ‘Fashion and Accessories’ and The Mussel Pot in ‘Eateries’.

At the Queen Victoria Market, the winners were The Chicken Pantry in the category of ‘Poultry and Game’ and Vic Market Lotto in ‘Services’.

And at the South Melbourne Market, winners included Padre Coffee in the category of ‘Coffee’, Emerald Hill Deli in ‘Delicatessen’, Georgie’s Harvest in ‘Fruit and Vegetables’ and The SuperCool in ‘General Merchandise’, which also won the MYOB Ultimate Best Trader Award.

Melbourne Market Week runs until this Sunday, 14 September. For more information visit

And that’s Melbourne’s Best Market Traders for the Melbourne Minute.

Melbourne Minute – Melbourne Spring Fashion Week

Australia’s fashion elite will descend on Melbourne from this Saturday for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week thanks to the City of Melbourne.

Running until Sunday, 7 September, the nine-day extravaganza will feature more than 40 of Australia’s most celebrated designers, brands and retailers who will present their new season looks.

Students from Melbourne’s best fashion schools will also have the opportunity to showcase their talent at a range of events including the Emerging Designer Market at the MSFW: Hub this Sunday and the following.

In fact, the MSFW: Hub located in the City Square will be the place to be throughout the entire week featuring free daily runways, pop-up retail stores, entertainment and the MSFW: Hub Bar offering food from renowned chefs Gavin Baker, formerly of The Fat Duck, and Pete Evans from My Kitchen Rules.

What’s more, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week also has its very own online store where you can shop the looks you see on the runway.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit

And that’s Melbourne Spring Fashion Week for the Melbourne Minute.

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