Breakfast at Jimmi Jamz East Brunswick

I first met Alby Tomassi at YGAP’s social enterprise café Feast of Merit, in March last year.

With a huge smile, boundless enthusiasm, and a solid pedigree in hospitality (he also owns St Kilda institution The Banff) Alby is all about bringing good, unfussy food to the table and Jimmi Jamz is no exception.

The Lygon Street space is big enough to not have to worry about queuing for a table on a Saturday morning, but still warm and inviting with exposed brickwork, planter boxes full of fresh herbs, comfortable leather banquette seats, and a large airy courtyard which is lovely for brunch and possibly even better for a lazy Sunday afternoon session, or a warm summer evening.

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With the feasting of the festive season over, I’m ready for some food that nourishes whilst still tasting fantastic. Based on what I tried recently at Jimmi Jamz, I’m covered for the rest of summer. The menu boasts something to appeal to everyone from the Istra bacon lover to the gluten free vegan, and everyone in between.

Offering a fresh take on standard breakfasts, at Jimmy Jamz you can get ricotta hotcakes with fro-yo, meringue and mint; almond and cashew granola with coconut yoghurt, blueberry curd and grapefruit; baked eggs with pork belly; and silken chilli tofu with roasted red onions, puffed rice and black sesame oil. I’m not usually a tofu fan, but I found this dish really lovely – so many flavours and textures, and it just screamed healthy!

I loved the ‘Rye Gap’, which was house cured trout, avocado puree, pickled red onion, soft herb salad with preserved lemon dressing and a poached egg (extra) on rye.

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Jimmi Jamz have their own coffee brand which they’ve called ‘Little Green Bean’, (roasted in Brunswick), their milk comes from St David Dairy (hand bottled in Fitzroy), and a huge selection of freshly squeezed juices and delicious-sounding smoothies. I went with the ‘Green Apple’ which was chock full of spirulina, psyllium husk, organic coconut, almond, sultana, cranberry, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, organic lime essential oil, coconut nectar, green apple, coconut water, fresh mint and ice. Loved it.

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You can view the whole menu here

Add to this the fact that they also have a stack of board and card games including Jenga, Battleships, Scrabble, Backgammon and Chess, you could quite literally settle in here for hours (with or without kids.)

I’m now looking forward to going back for lunch or dinner to check out the rest of the menu!

*I was invited to Jimmi Jamz to try the summer menu. I wrote about it because I loved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feast Of Merit – a YGAP Project

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YGAP stands for Y-Generation Against Poverty. This is a non-profit organisation full of bright young volunteers with a social conscience. They call themselves ‘an incubator for social change’. I just call them bloody awesome.  Their CEO and co-founder is Elliot Costello, social entrepreneur and all-round good bloke.FeastOfMerit4

I first became aware of YGAP through social media posts around their 5 Cent Campaign in 2013, which was successful in raising over $130K for charity projects in Australia, Cambodia and Rwanda.

Their latest undertaking is Feast of Merit,  a ‘communal dining house’ located at 117 Swan St, Richmond, serving breakfast and lunch 7 days a week, and dinner Tuesday to Sunday.

FeastofMerit28 FeastofMerit25 FeastofMerit26 FeastofMerit29It was wonderful to hear that Salvatore Malatesta of  St Ali Coffee Roasters, was happy to share some love for the Feast of Merit cause, and has donated a coffee machine and equipment, plus 2 years’ supply of coffee beans, and a signature espresso blend has been developed. More generosity came from Melbourne-based manufacturer LUUS, who fitted out the kitchen.

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Alby Tomassi, co-founder and no stranger to hospitality (think Café Banff and Jimmi Jamz) notes that the smooth operation of the venue, after being open for such a short time (a little over 2 weeks at time of writing) can be attributed to many of the staff being involved in renovations, painting, cleaning, and setting up in the months and weeks leading up to the opening. Also being part of something they believe in, they have formed strong bonds and friendships based on a mutual passion. Everyone is happy coming to work, including Alby (pictured below with his trademark smile).  Business Manager Shaun Anderson is another YGAP’er whose demeanour is relaxed, friendly and welcoming each time you visit, greeting first-timers like old friends.

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In their own words, the ‘Feast of Merit’ is a “community concept inspired by a festive ritual in Nagaland, North Eastern India, whereby a wealthy member of the village will liquidate all their assets to throw a huge celebratory feast for their community. The festival can last for several weeks, bringing together all of the village’s poor and underprivileged members, as everyone feasts and celebrates together through a distribution of wealth that empowers and unifies the community”

The food has a local and sustainable focus – they use Hopkins River Beef, line caught fish, with origin and seasonality being important to chef Ravi Presser (ex Bar Lourinha , Circa, Cumulus Inc and more recently, Fonda).  They have D.O.C wine on tap in kegs, eliminating bottle and left-over waste, as well as some selected local wines, ciders and beers by the glass and bottle. There is also an intriguing range of Ayurvedic Tonics, freshly pressed juices, and ‘enlightened’ smoothies.

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There is a definite Middle Eastern slant to the menu, and ethical, healthy, nourishing dishes are the cornerstone of chef Ravi’s offerings.

Price is also a factor, with the idea being that good food should be accessible and affordable. No dish on the menu is over $23.

The cost of the meals however, belies the beautiful quality and range of options on the menu.  Apart from the Launch event which I attended as a guest, showcasing the dinner menu, and containing such gems as eggplant, lemon and pomegranate dip, fried cauliflower salad with blackened onions, Hopkins River porterhouse with horseradish and garlic paste, and a milk pudding with figs and caramelized sugar, I have visited again since for both breakfast and lunch, and each time the food has been beautifully presented, with gorgeous combinations of flavours and ingredients.

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Highlights have included a dish of backyard fruits – plums, figs and grapes, chia seeds, orange blossom, yoghurt ice and smoked almonds, and harissa toast with kale, silverbeet, ricotta, avocado and egg. Of the range of salads on offer at lunchtimes, my favourite  so far has been the asparagus, green bean,pea, soybean, fennel and verjus.

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I was initially invited to the Launch event as a guest, in the hope that I would spread the word about this worthwhile social enterprise, and share the information provided to me with other people, via social media.  Since that visit I have returned twice to spend my own money there, invited friends to do the same, and will continue to do so in the future.

As with most of what I promote on social media, I’m not being paid to do it – I simply believe in it, I like it and I’m passionate about it.  I started blogging 5 years ago because I was passionate about sharing information about food and travel experiences. I still am.  If I’m working for someone I will disclose that.  If I eat/drink somewhere and it’s an invite I’ll disclose that too.

I choose to be positive, encouraging, supportive. I enjoy helping others share their message where I can.

Live and let live.  Oh, and lighten up.

“Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.”

The Holstee Manifesto 2009.

The Feast of Merit Cloak, bestowed with great honour upon the villager who shares his wealth with his community
The Feast of Merit Cloak, bestowed with great honour upon the villager who shares his wealth with his community