This farmer says learning can fun

Almost 12 months into my Bob Hawke Award and the $50,000 prize money that comes with it I have been able to launch the Farming Ahead of the Curve initiative

Farming Ahead of the Curve aims to provide Australian farmers with the skills sets and knowledge required to create and generate greater value for the food and fibre they produce.  We will deliver programs to build Australian  farmers’ capacity to engage with all stakeholders along the supply chain to increase awareness, loyalty and pride and consumer preference for Australian produce par excellence.

Thanks also to some of my extra curricula activities and my role on the GPT Wollongong Food Reference Group I have met the food guru that is Rowena Cannane 

Food Marketing

Rowena is a food marketing consultant and runs a business called logically ‘Food Marketing’. See here

Food Marketing is an integrated marketing consultancy that specialises in the development and implementation of sales and marketing strategies for food related businesses. Led by Rowena Cannane, Food Marketing offers an extensive range of marketing services from short term project based solutions to the development and implementation of long term strategies.

To develop my supply chain skills and knowledge Rowena is taking me to visit retail food outlets par excellence.

Rowena Cannae IMG_4880 

My food retail business mentor Rowena Cannane sharing with me why Dose Espresso at Willoughby ‘works’

What I have learnt in the first instance is retail food outlets have similar managerial and staff concerns as a lot of farm businesses.


  • Employees in retail food business often don’t see it as a career of first choice
  • High staff turnover ( many farm businesses have staff turnover levels of more than 30% – scary) 

Secondly success relies on the following

  • Understanding GOOD employees are the life blood of your business
  • It is absolutely  imperative that you share your vision with your staff and they embrace it
  • You pour your energy into your talent – if an employee on a 3 month trial doesn’t live up to your expectations don’t waste your time up skilling them “shed them’
  • You give your employees ownership of joint outcomes and successes
  • Acknowledging success relies completely on having a systems approach. That is having a procedure for everything and everybody ( including management) and religiously following those procedures  

Last week’s learning curve for Lynne took us to the award winning Dose Espresso at Willoughby – one of Rowena’s favourite cafe experiences

  Dose 2 IMG_4885

The cafe is constantly full of streams of people getting takeaway or sitting down and enjoying a long brekkie or lunch.

Light fittings IMG_4877

The exposed brick, mismatched furniture and bare light bulbs give an industrial recycled trendy vibe to the cafe

There is a diverse mix of ‘clientele’ with most of the customers being families, groups of middle-aged friends and young and old couples.


All the furniture is on castors which means it can all be wheeled inside the cafe in a few minutes at closing time 



The outdoor parking area adjacent to the cafe means parking is available during the week and they turn it into a playground on the weekend. How good is that?

The focus is on coffee (clearly evident in the name alone) and the café is owned and run by Sam Gabrielian who owns his own boutique roasting company ‘Caffe di Gabriel’. The café offers specialty beans of different varieties in addition to their in house coffee bean.

Coffee Grinder IMG_4878

They have an in-house coffee roasting machine, and you walk into the café and you can smell freshly roasted coffee in the atmosphere

I didn’t find the food as spectacular as the coffee perhaps that was because I had my eye . on the crushed avocado, haloumi, roasted tomato and pesto on sourdough but we arrived at 1.30 and its only available before 12.

I had this ‘Better than a Reuben!’  sandwich which comes with roast beef, sweet gherkin, Dijon mustard, onion jam and rocket on sourdough. It’s was a bit low on the roast beef department and had far too much onion jam ( and I love onion jam) for my liking. 


Better than a Reuben!’ sandwich and divine milkshake ( even though they had run out of ice-cream)

This novel idea means ‘water is on tap’ with this self serve concept. Though I must admit I prefer my with ice and a serve of lemon 

Water Tap IMG_4869

I was a good girl and avoided the cakes

Cakes IMG_4876

Goodness gracious these days you would think everyone in Australia was allergic to gluten. With the price of corn per kg almost double that of wheat ( i.e. for our cows – not sure what the people grade sells at)  its surprising gluten free food isn’t out of the reach or most people’s pockets  

The staff were extremely friendly and management obviously follows the ethos of Maccas in that

If you have time to lean you have time to clean IMG_4883

‘If you have time to lean you have time to clean’

Winner of Multiple Awards 

This multiple award winning cafe is certainly a unique and delightful place for a leisurely brekkie of lunch


Dose Espresso Map

Thanks Rowena for another very insightful day out and special thanks to Steve and Ben at GPT for connecting us