WHEN Tim Bone first met his wife Abbey, it wasn’t his charm or good looks that won her over. It was his cooking.
The Ballarat couple met 10 years ago through mutual friends, and it’s fair to say that Tim’s culinary capabilities were his strongest weapon in love. “I definitely won her heart with my cooking,” Tim laughs.
Food has always played a huge part in Tim’s life. The 2019 MasterChef contestant says he always loved watching cooking shows and savouring his mother’s homemade meals. But it wasn’t until he started university 15 years ago that he realised his full potential in the kitchen. “When I moved out of home to go to uni and had to cook to fend for myself, I realised that cooking was actually fun,” Tim recalls. “I feel the most relaxed when I’m cooking in the kitchen. I find it a good stress reliever and it’s my kind of mindfulness. There is no better feeling than feeding people and having them enjoy your food with you.”
The much-loved MasterChef contestant and Ballarat local was eliminated from the competition at the semi-final, but not before leaving a lasting impression on everyone’s hearts.
“Masterchef was an amazing experience,” the former integration aide says. “I was lucky enough to meet some of the greatest chefs in the world like Massimo Bottura, Heston Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson, Curtis Stone and Maggie Beer. It really was the greatest work experience I could’ve ever asked for.
“I learnt so much, not only about cooking, but in myself and my abilities. I really grew in confidence as well. “My biggest takeaway from the competition would be that life is too short not to have a go at things. It’s ok to fail but it’s not ok to have regrets.”
But fail is something Tim did not do. Following the show’s ending, he returned to his hometown and launched a new brand for himself – Tim’s Toasties. The new venture was inspired from a New York trip five years ago, where Tim dined at a Lower East Side hole-in-the-wall eatery named Cheese Grille. “They made the best grilled cheese sandwiches and I just knew I had to take this idea back to Ballarat with my own style of toasties,” Tim says. “Down the track I’d even love to have my own hole-in-the-wall.”
Boasting the freshest in local ingredients, Tim’s Toasties are a force to be reckoned with. Think pulled pork, salami, roasted vegetables, sourdough bread, and stringy, gooey cheese that just pulls it all together – literally! According to Tim, the secret to a good toastie is the sourdough, local ingredients, loads of butter and a sprinkle of salt on top. “There’s just something so humble and comforting about toasties,” Tim says. “They take us back to our childhood of tinned spaghetti jaffles and ham and cheese toasties.”
When Tim first launched his toasties, they were available at regional farmer’s markets and events. But due to COVID-19, he needed to re-think how to continue his small business. With the ever-enduring support of his wife, Tim was able to re-think his business model and come up with a solution that would still allow customers to enjoy his product. “It’s a very tough situation for so many out there, especially small business and the hospitality industry,” he says. “(But) it’s forcing us to pivot and get creative with how we can continue to provide our products and service to the public, all while following the strict guidelines and ensuring everyone is safe.”
Tim has now started selling his toasties pre-packed at Warehousey, a new pop-up grocery store in Ballarat which sells essential ingredients and meals to the wider public.
And with Tim and Abbey expecting their first child very soon, Tim is grateful that he has his wife, an impending bundle of joy, and a passion for good, wholesome food to help see him through to the other side of the COVID crisis.
“We are very excited to have a little baby on the way. We feel so blessed and we can’t wait to be parents,” Tim says. “We are trying to stay positive at this time, keeping busy and setting up the nursery. It’s nice knowing we have something so special to look forward to and we’re making the most of this forced relaxation period as we know things are going to get crazy before too long.”
Story Della Vreeland – Cover image Her Golden Point Photography