In conversation with: Rachel Surgeoner from Yes Joy

By Claire Deane

Joy can be found in the simplest of pleasures. For Rachel Surgeoner, founder of boutique catering company, Yes Joy, creating food with fresh, seasonal and local produce is just one of the ways she brings brightness not only to her own life, but to those of her clients. We sat down with Rachel to find out what inspired her to create her business, why saying yes to joy is vital, and how she finds balance amongst small business life.

What was the inspiration behind starting Yes, Joy?

I wanted to spend more time preparing good, wholesome food for myself, family and friends. To build a community and be a part of the conversation of what good food is - not necessarily 'health food' but food that's (mostly) good for you and most importantly, delicious. My middle name is Joy. I was trying to think of 'food-business-type-names' and had a short list of great salad puns (we love a good salad but ultimately the business needed a name that let it explore all sorts of food, dining and lifestyle experiences. One day it just clicked - 'Joy'... say yes to joy! The punctuation Yes, Joy is very important.

What else brings you joy apart from cooking?

I love to cook, but I'm unashamedly self-taught and every day is about learning new skills. One of the processes I enjoy most is the menu planning - poring over cookbooks and seeing what my suppliers have in season and what would translate well into a salad. Reading cookbooks and food magazines, and eating out at my favourite local cafes and restaurants is how I treat myself. And travel (or these days dreaming about travel)!  

How do you infuse joy into what you create every day?

By taking extra care, sourcing quality ingredients and making sure the produce is lovingly prepared. Preparing vegetables can be really labour intensive! Washing your salad leaves and herbs and storing them properly makes a HUGE difference to freshness.

What does 'wellness' mean to you?

Getting enough sleep, a somewhat balanced diet, time to take a walk and stretch your muscles, and maybe an afternoon nap if you need it! And if you're able to - a remedial massage and facial every now and then. As a small business owner, I juggle a few hats. Balance is something I struggle with. I think being as organised as humanly possible helps your mind find the space to balance out your week and find those quiet moments to rest and refocus. At this stage in my business, I find myself saying a lot of 'yeses' but I think you've got to try a lot of things out before you can learn to say 'no' to things that may not work for you.

How important is design to what you do and what inspires you? 

So important. Before I even knew what Yes, Joy would be I knew creating a professional brand and a fun aesthetic was the first step in helping to define the brand. Your product needs to speak for itself, but your creative needs to speak for you! I make a LOT of salads from Hetty McKinnon's Cookbooks Community and Neighbourhood - you can follow her Brooklyn salad adventures @arthurstreetkitchen. Sometimes I feel like my spiritual home is NYC - so again, some ladies in food who I admire @dimestimes. My design guru the effervescent Lila @ohbabushka and Italian Food-art-design maestros Arabeschi di Latte

What's your favourite ingredient at the moment? 

Radishes! There are so many varieties and they add can add so much attitude to a regular salad,  sandwich or cheese platter. Eat them raw, pickle them or roast them!

When do you feel most healthy?

When I make time to do some yoga or take a walk. And of course, after a helping of Yes, Joy made salad!

You can find Yes, Joy on Instagram or online.