28 September 2023

Five minutes with Robert Gorgievski, Smiths Ln Dairy, Wongawilli

| Eileen Mulligan
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Smiths Ln co-owner Robert Gorgievski holding a plate pf food.

Co-owner Robert Gorgievski brings a positive energy to customer service. Photo: Eileen Mulligan.

Who are you?
Robert Gorgievski.

What is your business?
Smiths Ln Dairy, Wongawilli. We have recently purchased the business.

What’s a dish that you make that best sums up your venue?
We’re famous for our homemade pancakes and muffins – but my go-to is our popular Miner’s Breakfast. That’s our breakfast with the lot. So, you can get your eggs poached, scrambled or fried and it comes with sourdough bread, spinach, mushrooms, chorizo and bacon.

Favourite cuisine?

An ingredient you can’t live without?
Maple syrup. I have maple syrup with everything: shakes and cereal. That’s how I start my day, actually. I started using it when I started making smoothies a couple of years ago. I needed to sweeten things up a bit. Maple syrup is a good add-on to any fruit you use, whether it’s blueberries, strawberries or bananas. It just finishes it off for me. I haven’t been (to Canada, the home of maple syrup) since I was little. I’d love to go back. My aunty lives in Canada. I was there when I was four or five years old – a long time ago.

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Who is your biggest culinary influence?
My European background. My mum and dad were born in Macedonia so I grew up eating lots of different foods from Macedonia and surrounds – hot pots, a lot of baked dishes, salads, fetta cheese, and breakfasts included scrambled eggs. A lot of European families grow their own produce. Mum and Dad, still to this day, have their own vegie patch – tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicums, onions – so it’s all fresh. Hopefully, we can add our vegie patch here. We are just waiting to hear back from (developer) Sheargold. They are going to get back to us with a bit of a landscaping plan and hopefully, we can add in our own little vegie garden on the side, along the kids’ section and new landscaping along the deck.

What is inspiring you right now?
My team around me – they’re absolutely amazing. Everyone here is really special. I’ve only been here six months [at the time of writing in September], so without the team I’d have definitely been struggling right now. It’s more of a family vibe than a team vibe. They are very hard workers and it is very contagious. It’s very much a team effort. Everyone’s got their own job but everyone is helping each other at the same time. And everyone’s helped me learn my role as well.

Where do you dine out in the Illawarra for comfort food?
Grill’d Healthy Burgers.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?
Harbourfront Seafood Restaurant.

What’s your go-to for coffee?
Smiths Ln Dairy made by the best baristas #sldbarista.

Where would you take out-of-town visitors to show off the best of the Illawarra region?
Wongawilli, and our Blue Mile foreshore. I think Wongawilli is a little bit of a time-out from Wollongong. It’s a little bit slower paced. As a customer, you just get to take in the scenery and the fresh air. As a business owner, the customers are just wonderful. Coming here as a customer – I come here on my day off – I unwind. I have a coffee, kick back, bring my laptop and work from the deck. It’s beautiful.

Who do you admire in the local food scene?
Our chefs, who work their absolute magic each and every day.

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Where are you excited to eat next?
Sakura Sushi, Wollongong.

What are your top recipe tips?
Love using freshly home-grown produce – can’t match the taste. We had our own vegie patch but it made way for a new landscaped garden. But my kids want to start their own little vegie patch because they are doing a lot at their primary school. My twin girls are growing tomatoes and chillies and my son, in his class, his role is to look after the carrots. And they’re excited about that.

What do you wish people understood about your job?
That we’re always doing our best in the food and coffee space. Hospitality is a hard one because you’re dealing with people. You don’t know how they started their day and you don’t know what mind space they are in, so we try our best to keep a happy face, a brave face, to keep them happy. It’s challenging but rewarding at the same time. You have to be a people person, definitely. You have to bring that good energy.

Smiths Ln Dairy is open Monday to Friday, 7 am to 2 pm, and weekends 8 am to 2 pm at 57 Smiths Lane, Wongawilli.

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