‘Masterful’ Empty Fridge wins Bologna award

Empty Fridge 9780987109934Gaetan Doremus’ Empty Fridge has been announced as an award winner at this week’s annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

The picture book with culinary flavour won the inaugural Books&Seeds Award. This award is devoted to books dealing with subjects such as agriculture, organic farming, biodiversity, food, hunger, abundance, nutrition, safety and cooking.

Here’s what the award jury, chaired by Italian writer Susanna Tamaro, said of the book:

This book is as high and tall as a building, like so many of the apartment blocks in the city. The book’s main character is a tenant who lives down in the cellar and finds a solution to solve the problem. He goes upstairs following a logical sequence and knocks on everyone’s doors, offering food together with a cooking project. Then a large round table and a huge cake in the oven suddenly colour the pages. Colour and conviviality stream out of the building flowing into other apartment blocks. Soon there is not enough space so people go out into the street and get lost in a community feasting in a street party. But was it all a dream? Or is the dream about to come true?

The book masterfully narrates the value of food in social exchange, a positive story flanking the trend to build communities and live in a community. Its analytical description of the characters and their domestic settings offers a strong and convincing example. Food is a need that brings everyone together and becomes a shared opportunity for us all, like the cake that helps to find creative solutions in the search for happiness.

Empty Fridge will be exhibited at the Biblioteca Salaborsa, in the heart of Bologna, during the Fair and then in Expo Milan 2015, as part of the Biodiversity Park.

Our congratulations must go to Seuil Jeunesse, which published the original French edition of Empty Fridge, entitled Frigo Vide.


‘Empty Fridge’ makes the Wall Street Journal

ImageWe were thrilled to find a sophisticated review of Empty Fridge in the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s an extract …

It is not extreme weather but lack of food that presents the central problem in “Empty Fridge”… a picture book for younger children by French illustrator Gaetan Doremus. In the modern apartment building that M. Doremus depicts with delicate black lines and splashes of color, people have become so involved with their daily activities—chatting on the phone and “playing music non-stop”—that they have failed to provision for themselves. Come suppertime, Andrew has just three carrots, Nabil has two eggs and a bit of cheese, and Claire, on the third floor, has only some tomatoes.

As in the old folk tale “Stone Soup,” the solution lies in a kind of cheerful collectivism—voluntary, mind you—that brings neighbors together with their edible oddments to conjure a meal that will feed everyone. Given that the author-illustrator is a Frenchman, it is perhaps no surprise that the resulting fusion food is a colorful quiche. “Slices of quiche, slices of life,” we read, as the quiche fad spreads from the building across the whole city. “It’s such a pleasant and refreshing thing to do,” this sharing of food, that “people find themselves asking: ‘Why don’t we do this every day?’ “

– by Meghan Cox Gurdon. A version of this article appeared June 1, 2013, on page C6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Droughts And Squalls.

Wall Street Journal

Social Inclusion week at the Gusto! exhibition

Watch an interactive reading of ‘Empty Fridge’ by Emma Baker, Family Program Officer at the State Library Victoria, as part of Gusto! Family Day during Social Inclusion Week.

Story Time Empty Fridge500

Emma and her lovely support team of volunteers opened Story Time at the library with energetic songs about Spaghetti Bolognaise and, of course, Vegemite (the original hand-written music to the Vegemite song is displayed in the Gusto! exhibition).

With a toy oven, mixing bowl, spoon and hand-made vegetable props to make the quiche from the ‘Empty Fridge’ story, Emma’s lively and interactive reading had everyone involved!

Touring the Gusto! Exhibition500

After more songs and a workshop to make your own apron, families were invited to go on tour of the State Library’s Gusto! exhibition.

The Family Day celebrations finished on the library forecourt where The Little Veggie Patch Co had set up two vegetable gardens connected by an archway. The children and parents were fascinated to hear about how to grow their own vegetables at home. After one last sing along to the ‘good bye’ song everyone left with a quiche recipe and pack of seeds to get started at home.

Story team at the State Library500

The State Library ‘Story Time’ Team

The Little Veggie Patch Co

The Little Veggie Patch Co teaching families about the importance of growing your own food.

Recipe card and seeds

Seeds and quiche recipe give aways encouraging social inclusion through; growing your own food; cooking together; and sharing food with friends, family and neighbours.

Social Inclusion Week Team (Owen, Emma SLV, Justine WF)

Owen, Emma (State Library) and Justine (Wilkins Farago) with the Social Inclusion Week Panda!

Celebrating Social Inclusion Week with The Little Veggie Patch Co

Wilkins Farago are proud to be collaborating with the The Little Veggie Patch Co and the State Library of Victoria to present:

The Gusto! Family Day as part of Social Inclusion Week, Saturday December 1st, from 11am -1.00pm, State Library of Victoria. 

Our picture book Empty Fridge will be the focus of the Gusto! Family Day Story time and The Little Veggie Patch Co will be there setting up their veggie patches on the forecourt. Learning how to plant your own vegetables and herbs and then whip them up into something delicious to share with family, friends and neighbours is exactly what social inclusion week is all about. Collaborate, connect and celebrate!

We’ve asked Matthew Pember, founder of the The Little Veggie Patch Co, why this event is important to them…

Interview with Matthew Pember…
Q1: Mat, what inspired you to start The Little Veggie Patch Co?

The love of sharing food experiences. There are simple, everyday pleasures to be found in both the garden and in the kitchen and we wanted to help people find them.

Q2: How can people get involved?

By creating a garden; as small as a pot or as large as an orchard. Start engaging with food at the most basic level and let your appreciation grow.

Q3: Why did you want to be involved in Social Inclusion Week?

There are so many disintegrated groups of people that have much value to give, but find themselves largely excluded. I look no further than the 50’s/60’s migrant generation with all their edible gardening knowledge and skill that is a crime not to explore! I always take the opportunity to chat to my neighbour’s about their plots and it’s our common thread. I think edible gardening could be a common thread for many people. It’s certainly the common thread between my Nonna and myself.


Q3: Now that you’ve read Empty Fridge, what would you add to the recipe in the book to make it special?

I think they should look in the garden and see what herbs could be thrown in!


Q4: What is your favourite children’s book?

Petit Prince!

“…Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” Chapter 1. 


If you would like to find out more about The Little Veggie Patch Co come along this Saturday December 1st for the Gusto! Family Day. There will be story time activities, tours of the Gusto! exhibition, hands on veggie patch building, not to mention the giveaway seed packs to start one of your own…

Here is a charming video to enjoy until then.

Rotary “Social Inclusion for schools” Initiative

The Rotary Club have teamed up with Social Inclusion Week to support Empty Fridge reaching schools all across Australia. To read more about their initiative download the Social Inclusion Week Schools Flyer. Here’s what they said about our book:

In August this year, an outstanding new book was published in Australia. “Empty Fridge” brings the themes of social inclusion to primary school students and is a great resource for schools. A superb hard back publication, it has received acclaim from booksellers, librarians and schools alike.

For Social Inclusion Week 2012 , your Rotary Club can purchase 5 copies of “Empty Fridge”, complete with teacher’s notes in each copy and donate these to your local primary school.

Cost of package $150 (incl post and pack – delivered to you).

Click here to download Social Inclusion for Schools flyer.

From each package, the publisher [Wilkins Farago] will donate $75.00 to the School of Hard Knocks Institute – established by Dr Jonathon Welch to bring quality arts and well-being programs to homeless and disadvantaged Australians. To read more about “Empty Fridge”, you can visit www.wilkinsfarago.com.au.

‘Empty Fridge’ is a treat: Babyology

Great little review of our latest picture book, Gaetan Doremus’ Empty Fridge, on the Babyology website. Here’s an extract:

A detail from the climax of Gaetan Doremus’ Empty Fridge

So for all the parents who have stood, staring into the cupboard for dinner inspiration, comes Empty Fridge, by French author and illustrator Gaetan Doremus.

Empty Fridge is a story about dinner time at a five-storey apartment building. The residents have all had busy days and, on returning home, find their cupboards practically bare. One has some carrots, another has some peas. One has some eggs and another some capsicum. None of these ingredients alone is enough to make a meal but what happens when all the neighbours get together?

In the top-floor apartment, Rose takes stock of all the ingredients and suggests they make a quiche. Everyone works together, slicing and dicing vegetables and rolling pastry to cook their communal meal. The neighbours decide to eat outside and discover that the whole neighbourhood has gathered to eat together, which is where my favourite line from the book is used:

“Thousands of quiches are shared and eaten. Slices of quiche, slices of life.”


Empty Fridge is a treat – from its large format, fridge-like shape to the beautifully detailed drawings of people in their houses.

Empty Fridge has been chosen as the Focus Book for this year’s Social Inclusion Week.

Babyology is a premium online resource for parents, providing information and reviews on products and services for them and their children. It facilitates a community where parents can discuss products and services and ask questions of experts in the field.

‘Empty Fridge’ chosen as Focus Book for Social Inclusion Week

Empty Fridge by Gaetan Doremus has been chosen as the Focus Book for this year’s Social Inclusion Week (24 November to 2 December 2012).

Social Inclusion Week  was established in 2009 by  Dr Jonathan Welch AM, founder of the original Choir of Hard Knocks, which featured on ABC television and has inspired the formation of  street choirs around the world. It encourages communities across Australia to reconnect and be inclusive of all cultures, age groups, nationalities and the disadvantaged.

In 2012, the Social Inclusion Week message is,  ‘Collaborate, Connect and Celebrate’, and its focus is on mental health and engaging older Australians.

In addition to grass roots, community-created events, referred to as National Street Parties, there will be a number of national events and activities during the Week.

‘We’ve chosen Empty Fridge as our Focus Book this year because it is not only a very entertaining read for kids and families, but also touches on exactly the values we feel are central to Social Inclusion Week: people coming together and making connections,’ says David Jones, Manager of Social Inclusion Week.

Empty Fridge, written for primary school kids, tells the story of a group of apartment block residents who come home at the end of the day to find that they have hardly anything in their fridges. They bring whatever ingredients they have together to create a meal that inspires the whole neighbourhood.

Kids will be encouraged to read and discuss the book, with schools, families and libraries able to download a free resource kit. Kids can then upload their own creative responses to a special wikispace. 

A number of copies of Empty Fridge will also be donated by Australian Rotary  to schools across the country, with a portion of the money raised going to help fund the new School of Hard Knocks Institute, established by Dr Welch to provide professional arts, cultural and well-being programs to Australians experiencing homelessness or disadvantage.

‘We love to publish books that encourage kids to think about the world around them and their place in it, so we’re delighted Empty Fridge has been chosen for Social Inclusion Week. We’re looking forward to getting behind this year’s events,’ says Wilkins Farago’s Director, Andrew Wilkins.