When Geelong dad, to two gorgeous girls, George Georgievski took over the cooking and school lunch duties from his wife three years ago, he thought he was just doing every parent should do, parent. What he didn’t foresee was him becoming a world-wide success as the “School lunchbox dad”, with live TV appearances, over 200k Instagram/Facebook followers and a new cook book Lunchbox Express which launched recently!
George, tell us about that first morning you walked into the kitchen and found school lunch chaos.
It was like walking into a war zone. I used to leave for work before anyone was up so I had no idea what happened in the mornings till one day I was off sick. I was in bed when I heard screams from the kitchen, I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen thinking someone had been shot. As it turns out is was an everyday normality and my girls and wife looked at me like “what’s up?”.
That was the moment everything changed, I remember saying that I love my little family too much to allow this chaos to continue in the mornings. I asked my wife how I could help and she suggested I take over school lunches, fast forward 3 years and it’s a different type of chaos.
What do you do work wise when you’re not being a whizz in the kitchen?
We recently sold our family business after 16 years, and now I’m a client relationship dude. I look after a key account for a local Geelong business. I used to also give up a day a week to work as a barista for free in the best café called Coffee Cartel. I loved their passion for single origin coffee so much I had to learn as much as possible about coffee, even if it meant working for free!
Where did you find the inspiration to come up with these fun and exciting lunches?
I found inspiration in a few places, firstly, my cultural heritage is Macedonian, so growing up I was exposed to amazing soul food from Macedonia. I wanted my girls to experience this so I simplified some of my mum’s recipes and made them my own. For a whole year on every Friday, I also created lunches inspired by different countries around the world. At one stage, when I did Polish food, someone in Poland saw it and I ended up on the front page of the Polish Gazette next to Donald Trump!
Adult food is also a source of inspiration, for example, when we’d go out to dinner we’d all enjoy ravioli, spring rolls, dumplings etc. I figured if they enjoy those foods for dinner, how could I create them using simple bread and basic ingredients? So I did just that. Simplifying adult food is something I do a lot!
How did you end up on Instagram? Did the girls have anything to do with that?
It was about 3 years ago, however I have a dad brain! From what I can remember I think one of my girls came home from school saying that either a teacher or a parent suggested that I put the lunchbox creations on Instagram. Back then, I had no idea what Instagram was, so after some searching I downloaded the app and things went nuts pretty quick. So yes, it was all because of my girls.
Your book deal came about after a cheeky Instagram message to publisher MacMillan. Tells us more about how this came about.
Yes, very true, one night I noticed that MacMillan Publishers started following me, and I thought that it would be cool if I sent them a cheeky message. The message read something like “hi thanks for the follow, now who can I talk to about a bestseller and cool dad style recipes”. I then got a response, the funny thing was that I thought I was all cool and stuff till the publisher said that they never respond to those type of messages however they thought that my social pages had something special, so we caught up. When I went in for a meeting I noticed they were all women, so right then I knew they’d get sh#t done and that I was in safe hands!
What’s the best thing that has come about from your new found ‘lunchbox’ fame?
The changes that people have made for the better. At times when I get messages from people to tell me how their children’s behaviour has changed and how they’re more attentive just blows my mind. We are what we eat and to see positive change makes the journey we are on so worth it.
Top five items to put in a lunchbox:
1. Low salt popcorn, it’s a fun food with a heap of nutritional benefits.
2. Creative sandwich, turn a boring sandwich into ravioli, dumpling or spring roll.
3. Non watery fruits like stone fruits, apples, and berries. They don’t leak.
4. Mini veggies like mini cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes.
5. Love, always make the lunchbox as though it’s the last. Use the rainbow colours with fresh produce. Inspire your little humans.
Top five places to hang out with the kids when you visit Melbourne:
1. Queen Victoria Market – get them to pick their own fruit and veggies and make a day of it. Grocery shopping can be fun when everyone is involved.
2. Melbourne Aquarium – The penguins are always a hit, and the sharks always scare us!
3. Melbourne Zoo – Always a fun place to hang out and a great day out.
4. V Junior Cinemas – kid friendly cinemas with slides and bean bags.
5. Fitzroy Gardens – there’s the fun of the tram ride there, history with Captain Cooks Cottage, the fairy gardens and heaps of open space to run around.
Find out more about George and his fabulous creations at schoollunchboxblog.wordpress.com