interviewed by sophie rennard
Sarah Holloway is just one-half of the duo behind Matcha Maiden and the very Instagramable café, Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda, Melbourne. Sarah was in Bondi last week, tweaking the menu for the new Surry Hills café that is due to open very shortly. We managed to catch up with Sarah during her stay and throw a couple of questions her way.
SR: After the success of your Melbourne café Matcha Mylkbar you have decided to open up in Sydney. Tell us a little bit about your plans for your new digs and what customers can expect:
SH: Yes! We started our organic matcha company, Matcha Maiden, as a hobby about two years ago and it just completely took off (leading me to leave my corporate law world to jump head first into the wellness world). A year later, the opportunity to bring our vision into the physical world and partner up with dear friends and hospitality heavyweights, the Filippelli brothers, presented itself. Of course, we grabbed onto it for dear life and opened Matcha Mylkbar three short months later! Inspired by our joint trip to the US where we observed a huge rise in plant-based eating and matcha drinking, our mission was to create a venue that fused these concepts together raising awareness of the incredible (but sadly not well known) longevity and sustainability benefits of both trends in a way that was appealing and accessible to the mainstream market. We want people to know that plant-based eating can be healthy, delicious, filling AND Instagrammable and our rainbow menu is designed to suit all palates and preferences (even if you aren’t a full-time vegan).
After the success of our Melbourne venue since its opening last April, we felt the Sydney market calling our name. With many visitors coming from Sydney and around the globe, it has always been a dream of ours to spread the matcha magic as far and wide as we can. Sydney seemed the next logical step in our journey and we found a site in Surry Hills that was absolutely meant to be – once you see the exterior and how much it reflects our branding, you’ll know what we mean! Cannot wait to reveal it all to you! It’s much bigger and will be tweaked slightly for the Sydney market but the underlying philosophy and rainbow offering will stay consistent. We will start with the Melbourne menu and hopefully expand to dinner and drinks once we find our feet. Stay tuned over the next couple of months to see more!
SR: What is your food philosophy and what do you want people to take away from the Matcha experience?
SH: I am very much about fuelling my body the right way, because I know I expect a lot of it and put it through a lot with my fast-paced lifestyle. I didn’t always have a great relationship with nutrition nor did I understand the impact of food on my health. But a few spectacular occasions of crash and burn helped me learn about how to eat for energy, vitality and longevity. If your input is crap, that’s all you can expect of your output!
Now my diet is based around whole foods and sustainable sources of protein – I am not a full-time vegan but am increasingly conscious of the impact of my choices as a consumer. I am also a very strong advocate of balance and of the importance of flexibility, so whilst my diet is mostly very clean and nutritious, I regularly enjoy eating out and indulging. I just make sure not to overdo it (most of the time!)
My main mission with Matcha Mylkbar has been to show people that healthy, sustainable food choices don’t have to be boring or tasteless. There are a lot of misconceptions about health food, perhaps because of the lack of good ambassadors or miscommunication of messages. We have set out on a mission to change people’s perceptions and recalibrate their relationship with nutrition. We’ve injected our own personalities, humour and creativity into it to hopefully provide an experience you’ve never had before so you’ll never be the same as you were before!
SR: If it’s not a surprise, can you provide a little teaser as to what we can expect to see on the Matcha menu?
SH: We’ll start off with the current Melbourne Matcha Mylkbar menu so that Sydneysiders can experience what Instagram has been teasing them with for so long! We have specials rotating all the time, so they might vary between venues but we’ll definitely have our standout dishes like the green burger and vegan eggs.
Once we’ve settled in, we hope to introduce a dinner menu that will be even more innovative and boundary-pushing with lots of fun surprises. We’ve already started planning, so I cannot WAIT to share what we’ve got ahead!
SR: What is the best piece of health and wellness advice you can give to others?
SH: You cannot give with an empty cup. As I mentioned, I’ve burnt out quite a few times and that’s a terrible way to manifest my values – how can I be a wellness ambassador if I can’t even look after myself? I’ve realised that being so passionate about something can lead you to take it too seriously and work too hard, so there is such a thing as slowing down! There’s no point doing it at all if it’s at the cost of your own enjoyment of life. Rest is as important as work and, again, it all comes back down to finding your personal balance that works for you.
SR: Where are your top three Sydney or Bondi hangouts?
SH: About Life, Vida Surf Store & QT Bondi!
SR: Describe your perfect day
SH: A juicy sleep in, long hot shower, some form of meditation, a big delicious healthy breakfast date somewhere lovely, some time with our beautiful golden retriever, some yoga to move the limbs and get the blood flowing, lunch on the beach or a picnic in the park with friends, some creative brain time in the afternoon to write, play music, work on languages, make vision boards, plan travel adventures etc and then a big homely dinner with family followed by another walk or meditation and a movie or a book before bed. Bliss!
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