Meera Freeman’s long, varied career has seen her work as a Food Consultant, Cooking Demonstrator, Restaurateur, Author, Translator-interpreter
and Tour Leader.
Her command of languages including English, French, Italian Hebrew, Thai and Moroccan Arabic has enabled her to connect with people and to
expand her knowledge of the culture and food of various world regions.
She has appeared on both radio and television presenting the cuisines of Italy, Morocco, Thailand and Vietnam and led popular weekly tours of the Vietnamese food precinct of Richmond during the early to mid 90s.
Due to an old ankle injury, she was forced to retire from her eponymous Cooking School where she gave regular courses in North African, Italian,
Thai and Vietnamese cuisines for close to 25 years.
Meera has been designing and leading special culinary and cultural tours to Morocco since 2001.
In addition to her accompanied tours of Morocco, she was involved in setting up and presenting two Moroccan Flavours seminars in Marrakech and
has collaborated in other food related projects in Morocco and Italy.
What has Meera been up to?
COVID19 has meant that travel has been impossible and we experienced over 4 months of strict lockdown to arrive at 0 cases of infection by November.
Time at home has been well spent cultivating the garden and studying Spanish and Japanese.
March – travelled to Andalucia and Madrid with Rosa Lara of Just Explore Holidays and Tours
April/May – led two 15 day culinary tours to Morocco.
August – photographic tour of the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara in Kenya with Piper Mackay.
October – led a culinary tour of Morocco
November – food tour of Kyushu Island, Japan and a week in Tokyo
April/May – led two 15 day culinary tours to Morocco
Nov – trip to see the Autumn leaves in Japan and the Inland Sea art islands
April – led 15 day culinary tour to Morocco
January – wonderful trip to Japan with Jane Lawson – Zenbu Tours
April – led 15 day culinary tour to Morocco
October/November – led 15 day culinary tour to Morocco
After a hectic 2014, catching up, reading, photography. Preparing for Morocco Tour in November.
Doing English subtitles for DARI Couscous videos for my friend and Moroccan TV Chef Choumicha
October/November – led 15 day tour of Morocco followed by a private photography tour in Marrakech and Essaouira.
January – Participated in inaugural Zenbu Ryori food tour in Kyoto, Japan with Jane Lawson.
Moved House… looking forward to gardening!
February – Photographic trip with Matt Brandon and Piet van den Eynde to Rajasthan.
April-May – led two consecutive tours to Morocco.
April – led 2 week culinary tour to Morocco followed by 12 days in London for R&R.
October – research trip to Morocco.
January – Photography workshop in Lalibela, Ethiopia with Within the Frame.
April – Led 2 week culinary trip to Morocco for World Expeditions
May – Stopped offering regularly scheduled cooking classes.
October – Photography workshop with Sorin Onisor in Romania
November – trip to Israel to research culinary tour for 2014.
January – Photographic Safari to Kenya with David Duchemin and Socially Responsible Safaris.
February – recommenced cooking classes.
November/December – trip to Jordan and then 2 months in Israel.
February – recommenced cooking classes for the year.
Commenced consultancy with Pomlife® pomegranate growers and distributors of fresh arils.
April/May – led two 2 week cultural and culinary tours to Morocco.
August – graduated diploma course with the Photography Institute, NSW.
March – led 2 week tour to Morocco
November – led 2 week tour to Morocco
December – 3 week trip to India
April – led two week tour to Morocco.
November – led 12 day Women’s tour to Morocco
April – led special two week women’s tour to Morocco
May – Invited to Carloforte, Sardinia as a member of the jury at the 5th Annual Girotonno tuna festival – where Australia competed for the first time.
– Included as a member of the exclusive “Couscous Clan” on the website of the Italian gastronomad, journalist, author and world music expert, Victorio Castellani aka “Chef Kumale“
September: trip to Vietnam for Saigon Star travel to plan future culinary tours to that country.
September: Invited to 10th Annual Couscous Fest in San Vito lo Capo, Sicily as a member of the Jury at the couscous cooking competition.
October: Organized 2nd edition of Moroccan Flavours in Marrakech.
January – led private tour of Morocco.
February – returned to Melbourne to resume cooking classes.
May – spent two weeks in Morocco working on finalisation of “Moroccan Flavours” week.
June – invoved in organizing 40th School reunion of the class of ’66.
July – commissioned to translate the website of the bimonthly prime Moroccan food and lifestyle magazine – Parfums, Saveurs et Cuisine du Maroc. On line commencing 1st August 2006.
October- Managed the inaugural “Moroccan Flavours” week in Marrakech followed by a tour of other Moroccan destinations.
January – joined World Expeditions, Melbourne as consultant on special interest travel to Morocco and SE Asia.
April – compiled guide to Asian greens for Melbourne Markets.
May – Led tour to Morocco.
November – Led tour to Morocco. Accompanied friends on 2 week tour of Tunisia.
December – returned to Morocco and spent two months visiting properties for future tours and worked on the “Moroccan Flavours” week in Marrakech scheduled for October 2006.
January – Led tour to Morocco.
May – Release of ‘A Season in Morocco’ (Black Inc. Books, 2004).
June – contributed 72 hour escape to Marrakech for Gayot.com.
November – opening of Ping Eatery and Bar – consulted on the kitchen design and designed the South East Asian menu for owner Gina Koutropoulos.
March – Led the inaugural Tour de Forks for New York Food and Wine Travellers to Melbourne and Sydney.
May – Led tour to Morocco.
December – Led tour to Morocco.
Contributed to 72 hour escapes section of Gayot.com.
Inaugural gastronomic tour of Morocco.
September – The Vietnamese Cookbook revised and republished by Black Inc. Books under the new title “The Flavours of Vietnam.”
Invited to attend the Annual Couscous Fest – an international cous cous competition in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily – as a member of the Jury together with Italian and International food writers.
Opened Kin Kao Licensed Asian Cafe at 30 Cato St. Prahran.
1998 Television presenter
Commenced as food presenter on “Healthy Wealthy & Wise”, weekly prime time lifestyle television programme (Channel 10). Show concluded October 98.
1990 Food Consultant
Work as a food consultant covers five distinct areas:
Cooking School. 1990 – 2103
Established 1990 to teach busy people how to plan, prepare and cook exciting, delicious food – simply and easily.
Regular courses include Italian (beginners through to level 4), Thai (beginners and advanced), Moroccan and Vietnamese. These run once a week over 4 consecutive weeks for classes of 12 – 15 students. Special, one-off courses in North African, Northern Thai and Middle Eastern cuisine are available on request.
Also have been invited as guest teacher to other cooking schools in country areas, interstate and overseas. For example, a 4 city cooking tour of New Zealand in 1996 featured all types of cuisines in repertoire.
Students learn how and where to shop for high quality, authentic ingredients; how to take advantage of seasonal changes when planning a menu and shopping; relevant points of culture and etiquette.
Victoria Street Tours. 1992 – 2000
Walking tours of Victoria Street Richmond introduce groups of 6-10 people to specialty Asian foods and suppliers. Participants learn where to purchase primary ingredients for Asian cooking, how to recognise unusual fruit and vegetables then participate in a lunch to see how foods are used and presented and to sample flavours.
Publishing and Media Activities
As a result of becoming considered an Asian food expert, was commissioned to write “The Vietnamese Cookbook” Viking 1995.
The project involved travelling to Vietnam for background research, gathering recipes from the Vietnamese community in Melbourne with the help of restaurateur Vinny Le of Pho Dzung, food styling, coordinating photography and producing all written content. Republished as “The Flavours of Vietnam”, Black Inc. 2002
Consulted on the final editing of “The Food of Vietnam” (Periplus H.K. 1997)
“Cooking Class” published Allen & Unwin, December 2000
‘A Season in Morocco’ published Black Inc. Books, November 2004
Other publications include articles in The Age, The Herald Sun, Vogue Entertaining ,Supermarket Magazine and Delicious Magazine.
Guest TV appearances include: “What’s Cooking?” – Channel 9 (8 appearances); Iain Hewitson’s “A Cook’s Tour” – Channel 10; Peter Hitchener’s culinary special – Channel 9.
Guest radio spots include: 3RRR, ABC and SBS radio (French and Hebrew).
Significant activities in this area include work for: The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, The Vietnamese Lunar Festival in Victoria Street, The Jewish Museum, the Collingwood Community Garden and Craft Victoria.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Involvement has included: moderator in Food and Wine Room (1993). Master Class Presenter (1996); menu design with Rita Erlich for 800 guests at the “King Solomons Feast” (1996) Presenter “The Famous Five” Cooking Tour (1996); special annual tours of Victoria Street (1992-97); Presenters’ Dinner at Simon Johnson Quality Foods and aide to Moshe Basson (Israeli guest chef) (2001).
The Jewish Museum. Committee for the Movable Feast (1996), a very successful exhibition on Jewish culture and food through the ages. The supporting banquet “King ‘Solomon’s Feast” was held under the banner of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and was run as a fund raiser – 300 guests attended. March 2002, coordinated a dinner cooked by Moshe Basson for 300 guests at the Melbourne Park Hyatt, under the banner of the Melbourne food & Wine Festival.
Corporate and Private Events
Representative projects in this area include:
Bonlac Great Chefs of Asia competition 1996 – involved liaising with banquet managers and PR staff at 12 Asian international hotels to arrange menus and wine, table decorations and entertainment for National Presentation dinners.
Organised special dinner and presented two cooking classes at the Adelphi Hotel with Sansern Gajaseni from the Bangkok Oriental Hotel’s cooking school 1993.
Recipe development and food styling for promotional and marketing material for an Asian food distributor 1996.
Recipe development and food styling for packaging of Japanese food products.
Selected as one of the “Famous Five” Melbourne Cooking School teachers for a special tour 1997.
1982 – 1989 Furniture and Lighting Consultant
After 12 months at Custom Lighting, joined Arredorama, a retail group specialising in high quality design Italian furniture and lighting products. Role involved managing the Victorian store, supervising showroom display, attending Italian trade fairs in the capacity as chief buyer of product for the group and designing concept furniture layouts for individual and corporate clients.
1981 Australian Seminar Services – Conference Co-ordinator / Manager.
Major duties in this role included: organising regular legal and accounting conferences for groups of approx. 400 in 4 States, liaising with speakers, coordinating advertising activities, menu planning and travelling with national conferences with subsequent transcription and production of printed records of conference .
1976 – 1981 Banque Nationale de Paris – Administration and Management of Expatriate Officers
The role included: responsibility for encoding telegraphic transfers and proof reading French texts, accounting activities, making housing and furniture arrangements for expatriate staff, as well as organising social events and catering for the senior executives.
1976 Returned to Australia
A fter working in Israel as a translator for the National Council for Research and Development (a department of the Prime Minister’s office), Liaison officer with overseas donors at the Israel Museum, other translating and conference organising employment.
Languages: Fluent in French, Hebrew and Italian; speak and read Thai; studying Vietnamese; understand and speak some German, Arabic and Spanish. Moroccan Darija dialect is improving.
Travel: Extensive travel in Asia (30 years) Italy and Morocco; has lived in Israel, Switzerland and France.