When Maeve O’Meara was in her early twenties, before she became one of the most recognisable figures in Australian food media, she went on a European adventure. Sitting on a rock, overlooking the Acropolis in Athens, she had a catharsis.
“I was looking out at this white, ancient place, and I thought, ‘I never want two days of my life to be the same’,” O’Meara tells Broadsheet. “And I got my wish.”
O’Meara, a television presenter, journalist and author, founded her tour company, Gourmet Safaris, 24 years ago. What started as a fun outing with her mothers group, members of which urged her to take them to Sydney’s suburbs to try different cuisines grew into the television series Food Safaris, and a tour business that both celebrates Australia’s own multicultural communities and ventures as far afield as Turkey and Santorini in search of amazing food.
“It’s a lovely way of opening up the world,” she says. “It brings me joy. Gourmet Safaris has been my best playtime – I’ve had mad ideas and been able to follow them. It’s been a lovely thing to be a bridge between worlds.” No one knows the food villages that sprawl across Sydney quite like O’Meara. Broadsheet sat down with her over lunch at CBD Turkish diner Maydanoz to find out her five favourite hidden haunts in Sydney.