Using culinary expertise to redefine an approach to food

Despite an ambition to be a professional snowboarder when he graduated from Melbourne Grammar School, Tobie Puttock (OM 1992) has achieved remarkable success across many aspects of the food industry.

He is a celebrated chef with outstanding credentials who has published five cookbooks, appeared on numerous television programs and provided creative direction to high profile chefs and restaurants.

But today, the area to which he is dedicating much of his time is the promotion of healthy eating and delivery of healthy food products built around sustainable practices to the “everyday” person.

A shifting perspective on food and society

Initially taking a job in a professional kitchen to fund his interest in snowboarding, Tobie discovered a passion for food. After developing his craft at Caffé e Cucina in Melbourne, Tobie set off on a career adventure in Europe. He worked at Michelin-starred restaurants (and did quite a bit of snowboarding while he was there), further developed his love for Italian food, and worked at London’s River Café alongside Jamie Oliver, with whom he became close friends.

In fact, it was Oliver who helped change the direction of his career and shift his perspective of the industry.

“Jamie asked me to work at [his London restaurant] Fifteen. It was incredible in a lot of ways. Every year, Fifteen worked with a group of people between the ages of 16 and 24 who were from certain disadvantaged backgrounds and used cooking to give them life skills. The whole idea of using the restaurant to help people was huge for me.”

Fifteen, which Tobie later established in Melbourne, was a defining experience in his life, fuelling his desire to make a broader contribution to society through food.

Good food with a smaller footprint

A few years later, Tobie came to question some of the practices, conventions and accepted wisdom of the industry he loved, and this led to him recognising another path that his contribution to society might take – promoting healthy eating.

With a developing interest in plant-based cooking and sustainable practices, research for his fifth cookbook Super Natural led to further discoveries about the food industry that changed Tobie’s thinking, and his career direction, even more.

For the next several years, including during the COVID years, he dug deeper into what he’d learnt while writing the book. What he unearthed surprised and unsettled him. He began to ask what he could do about the waste and the ubiquity of unhealthy, over-processed food.

One of his answers to that question was a company that combines his love for simple, rustic Italian cooking, with his newfound passion for the ways in which food choices, production and packaging affect the environment.

Made by Tobie is a home delivery brand that is “gaining traction”, and Tobie’s ultimate hope is that it will eventually influence others.

Made by Tobie uses no preservatives or additives, sources meat from farms that use sustainable practices, and uses compostable packaging. It offers options for meat eaters, vegans, vegetarians and gluten free diners.

“Basically, my big mission is to try and create something that large scale manufacturing can copy. I hope elements of what we’re doing here become part of the future of food in this country.”