Eating Habits with Raph Rashid

Raph Rashid is one of those rare people in the food world, the kind that calls himself a “taco-burger guy” but is more akin to a lightning bolt and culture-maker. Raph has Melbourne covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner and sweets via his fleet of food trucks and the multi-tasking, diner-slash-coffee and donut joint, Juanita Peaches (imagine the Double R Diner from Twin Peaks uprooted and re-established in Palm Springs). He’s the author of a book, Hungry For That, an ode to eating with family and friends with recipes designed to make you fling your doors open and invite everyone in. There’s no doubt that at least one part of Raph’s mind is permanently dedicated to food, so it’s obvious we’d turn to him to talk about the king of all topics, eating habits.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I run a catering business based in Brunswick with a couple of burger trucks named Beatbox Kitchen and also a couple of Taco Trucks. For sweets we have All Day Donuts, which lives at Juanita Peaches coffee shop. My right hand lady is Beci Orpin and we have 2 kids, Tyke and Ari.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Eating pineapple in Malaysia. I remember numbing my tongue out. I was 3.

What was on your dinner plate growing up?
Rice every night. Then a mix of curries, everything mainly from the tip of Malaysia.

Why is food important to you?
Oh, food is just everything.

But probably the most important thing for me is the fact that my family sits down every night around 6pm for dinner.

Have you ever used food to impress someone? Tell us about that!
Well, every time we serve something I am trying to impress someone. It’s a constant, but you can’t impress everyone. I like the idea of trying to though – even if it’s something that can never be achieved.

Name three plant-based ingredients you love.
This is a tricky one, can I say – potato, fennel and coriander.

What dish do you most connect with your parents?
Probably sliced potatoes dusted in fresh turmeric and shallow fried, then eaten over steamed rice with some soy sauce and a fried egg.

Do you have any food or eating-related rituals? Please tell us about them.
I always eat my left over dinner for the next morning’s breakfast.

And I always eat crispy chicken and rice for my birthday.

Picture this: It’s 7pm, and you’re starving. The phone rings. It’s the Dali Lama, inviting you to meet him for tea in half an hour. You NEED to eat beforehand, otherwise you’ll start chewing your sleeve and swearing in front of the venerable one. What do you cook?
My go-to dish is all-in-a-pan fried tacos. First you open up the fridge and get whatever you’ve got. I always seem to have some leeks, kale, cheese and eggs. Get a skillet going on medium heat, add a little oil and quickly fry some garlic with chopped leeks and kale. Cook for a few minutes then take out. Add a little more oil and fry an egg crispy, then remove from it from the pan. Turn the flame down, add a little more oil and place a corn tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle the tortilla with cheese and let it melt. Place greens on the tortilla and remove from heat, top with egg plus some herbs and some hot sauce. Also a pinch of salt.