As Julia Gillard’s session swallowed most of the festival-goers, film critic Margaret Pomeranz and her American daughter-in-law were next door talking about family, food, film and friendships – and Let’s Eat, the cookbook that they have written together.
Philippa Whitfield Pomeranz works as a producer in reality television in LA while Pomeranz is a critic of film and television.
Their jobs put themselves on opposite sides of the fence, and they joked that Pomeranz would be constantly judging her daughter-in-law’s work.
“Mothers-in-law are usually pretty awful,” Whitfield Pomeranz said but after that rocky start, they have found that they get on like a house on fire.
And what the two have found that they have in common is sharing the joy around the table with the ones they love.
Weekends they spend together at the unpretentious Pittwater abode of Pomeranz who said they can “afford to cook with love, generosity and space”.
“We find the emotional connection with food,” Whitfield Pomeranz said.
The cookbook isn’t just a cookbook. It is a memoir of sorts, and contains candid stories of Pomeranz’s interviews with film stars and directors from her years on At The Movies and The Movie Show.
Interviewing actor Helen Mirren in Pomeranz’s home was one fond memory.
Although others didn’t go down as well as Pomeranz thought, however she takes responsibility for those. Harrison Ford, she recalls, was “completely off-putting”.
Pomeranz would often cook food for the stars and make them feel at home.
“It’s very natural and organic,” Whitfield Pomeranz said of her mother-in-law’s approach to the interview process.
Pomeranz’s recalled slaving over the stove cooking a beef dish for her guests, then at the last minute finding out they were vegetarians.
This was just one humorous tale from the book including recipes, family photos, career highlights, and travel stories about hiking in Cashmere and India.
“We went searching for the Yeti,” Pomeranz said.
Has writing a cookbook changed their experience of cooking?
“I’m putting food flavours together I never thought I would,” Whitfield Pomeranz reflected on how a celebrity caterer introduced her to brie and mango quesadillas.
“Margaret’s ginger chicken is infamous,” she added.
“I like making food that people want to eat,” Pomeranz concluded.
Emily Pierce is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Creative Writing. She has interests in theatre, feminism and cooking with flair with friends.