def: FORAGE - to search widely for food or provisions

Nothing brings people together like foraging and then sharing a meal with these found and foraged foods.

— Sam Gatsby Lim

At VIVE Cooking School, we want to share with you more than a range of wonderful cooking classes. Of course, we plan to teach you to cook incredible food, but for us, there is so much more than that to share. To truly understand what we're eating, we need to be in touch with the origins of our food. And what better way than through the age-old tradition of foraging.

The concept of foraging sits at the core of the VIVE Cooking School ethos. Foraging is about connecting to the earth and understanding the origins of our food. We believe that the journey of sourcing our food is as important as preparing and eating a meal with family and friends. Foraging for food is about simplicity, going back to our roots and understanding the abundant food sources that our earth is capable of producing.

Sam Gatsby Lim is a forager and collaborator with VIVE Cooking School. We caught up with him this week to chat about his journey - and we think you'll agree, it's a nice little tale.

Until next week...

The VIVE team.


Foraging for pine mushrooms for me is like a magical treasure hunt for beautiful golden and orange jewels.
— Sam Gatsby Lim

Sam Gatsby Lim wears many hats - design consultant, photographer, retailer, stylist, arborist, forager. Yep, that's a pretty unique combination of talents - but today we chat to Sam the forager. And his story is a pretty unique one.

As a young boy, Sam and his family fled their native Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge during the tumultuous Cambodian Civil War. In search of peace and a new life for their two small children, Sam's family settled in Australia with little more than the clothes on their back. With limited money, scarce English and very little understanding of their new surrounds, foraging was a means of survival, a way to put a meal on the table.

Sam Gatsby Lim grew up fishing and catching crabs, foraging for mussels and edible weeds. But it was only when Sam was an adult and talking with his parents about this wonderful time in his life that he realised this foraging was learned from sheer necessity.

I get out of my bed and I open the door slowly, trying my best to not make a noise. My brother Ratana gets up and we both peek through the gap. He pushes the door open and we rush out. They’ve come home from a midnight forage with a rice bag full of crabs and mussels. We both squeal with delight!
— Sam Gatsby Lim

From a tumultuous start, qualified arborist and arm-chair mycologist Sam Gatsby Lim now takes delight in the simple, the beautiful and the natural. Throughout his varied career, he has maintained one curiously common thread - a passion and intelligence for creativity, community, sustainability and the natural world.

Sam's parents are fortunate to have a home at Lake Macquarie on the northern Central Coast of NSW, offering a haven of natural foraging delights. In the Spring, they forage for oysters, mussels, razorfish, sea lettuce, warrigal greens, nasturtiums, blue flax lily berries and other wild delicacies. It's difficult to fathom the feast that exists in places that so many of us would not normally look.

While the notion of foraging is innate in the Sam Gatsby Lim persona, after 30 years of foraging recreationally Sam is now operating workshops for all to enjoy.

Through his workshops, Sam will share his knowledge of safe foraging and local delicacies before getting down to the business of finding these natural goodies. From mushrooms in Autumn to edible coastal plants in the Spring, the bounty is endless once you understand where to look.

And once you've collected your bounty? A feast of course!

VIVE Cooking School looks forward to collaborating with Sam who will lead foraging expeditions in conjunction with VIVE as well as teaching and cooking in the VIVE kitchen. We're excited, and you should be too!

If you're interested in learning to forage with Sam, head to his website for contact details here.

I fired a few questions at Sam recently to come up with this quick and curious Q&A:

VIVE: What is is about foraging that sets your senses on high alert?

SGL: I love that It connects us in a meaningful way to the land. It is a prescient reminder that our futures are shared. Without fertile soils and a healthy land there is no food.  

There's an indescribable delight in recognising edible seaweeds, a tingly joy that spreads from your toes as they are feeling for mussels in the sand. Foraging for pine mushrooms for me is like a magical treasure hunt for beautiful golden and orange jewels. My mum and dad inspired in me a delight in finding food - for them, it came from growing up in a rural community and as a means of survival.

VIVE: What is your foraging passion?

SGL: The wealth of knowledge that is wild, edible foods is seemingly endless. We have one of the oldest indigenous cultures in the world and there is a fortune of food knowledge that I look forward to learning and sharing.

VIVE: Are you always successful in your foraging quest?

SGL: Not always but I try! Last Spring I went searching for the illusive Morchella fungi in a state forest and came home empty handed!

VIVE: What will be your relationship to VIVE Cooking School?

SGL: I hope to be an ambassador for positive change at VIVE. Through the foraging and mushroom cultivation workshops I hope to create a dialogue in homes about the food we eat, where it comes from and how is is grown to truly appreciate what we put on the table for our children, our families and our friends.

As well as foraging, Sam also enjoys a plethora of other creative endeavours. For more juice on Sam and his many monikers, visit his website here.

For me, an average work day can mean three wardrobe changes and three variations of Sam.
— Sam Gatsby Lim