Evolving a Tasty Niche is in response to the global phenomenon of creative food careers, from food photography, cake design, dining experience, to food...

Evolving a Tasty Niche - The Love and Struggle in Creative Food Careers


Level 6 Terrace Entrance
2000 NSW

Vivid Ideas Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia
Katherine Sabbath, Nikki To, Clayton Wells, Danling Xiao, Vivid Sydney 2017


Cam Mackellar

Cam Mackellar

Digital Content Specialist, Sound Designer

Cam MacKellar makes things with words, sounds and most recently images. Trained as a historian, he has lectured at the University of Sydney and Yale University on the history of sound in American culture. As a musician, Cam has toured extensively in Australia, Europe and the US, and composed sound tracks for ABC’s Australian Story, Caritas and Oxfam. He is the founder of Village Bells – a communications company whose clients include McKinsey and Co., Choice and the City of Sydney.


Clayton Wells

Clayton Wells

Head Chef, Automata

Named the Hottest Chef of 2016 by The Weekend Australian Magazine, Clayton opens his first restaurant Automata at The Old Clare Hotel after working as a sous chef at David Chang’s Momofuku Seiobo.  

Clayton created Automata with the intention of showcasing local produce in a way that pays tribute to all the cultural experiences he has cultivated whilst working and travelling abroad. He also wanted to create a more relaxed atmosphere where people could dictate the dining experience for themselves, whether a 3-hour leisurely lunch on a Saturday or a quick post-work dinner. To put it simply, Clayton is combining the fine dining style of food that he likes to cook with, with the casual restaurant feel that he enjoys eating in.  

Clayton has won Chef of the Year in Time Out Food Awards 2016, while Automata has won SMH 2017 Good Food Guide Awards and is listed Top 50 Restaurants in Australia in The Daily Telegraph.  

Photo by Chris Court. 


Danling Xiao, Mundane Matters

Danling Xiao

Founder, Mundane Matters

Chinese-born Australian artist and designer Danling Xiao pursues her creative career in both art and design, with a strong focus on sustainability and community. Danling founded Mundane Matters, originally started on Instagram to explore her creativity with the most ordinary materials - fruits and vegetables. Over the past two years, Mundane Matters has developed into a multidisciplinary creative practice that voices for ethical eating, plastic-free living, minimal waste living and renewable energy.

Commiting to creating one piece of art and writing a day since May 2015, Mundane Matters has been well received globally - trended in several viral websites and featured in more than 30 magazines and TV channels, including The Huffington Post Japan and Australia, Mashable, DesignBoom, Design Taxi, ABC International, to name a few. Danling has exhibited her work in Sydney, Paris and New York; hosting talks and workshops at Apple Sydney, Superlocalstudio, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Powerhouse Museum (Sydney Design Festival 2016), Purpose Conference 2016 and The Mind Diner by The OPERATIVE (Art Month Sydney 2017). Mundane Matters has also been selected for the City of Sydney’s Sitework, a two-year project set to change Sydney’s cityscape.  

To Danling, the most important thing as an artist, designer and social entrepreneur, is to be able to make a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment through creativity. It has become a mission for Danling to inspire and encourage people who resonate with her work. These people include friends and family, audiences and participants from her talks and workshops, and a growing number of 40,000 fans on Instagram.  

Danling also works as a senior graphic designer and brand consultant. 



Emma Joyce

Emma Joyce

Editor, Time Out Sydney

Finding fun things to do in Sydney is what keeps Emma awake at night. She’s like a baby shark who has to keep moving to survive, which makes her very well suited to the role of Editor at Time Out Sydney, where she spends her days unearthing new events and activities around town – from discovering escape rooms to finding secret beaches and road testing tourist attractions. Originally from the UK, Emma earned her chops working at charity magazine Guiding in London. Since moving to Sydney in 2011, Emma’s contributed to various lifestyle publications, including Concrete Playground, Alphabet Pony, Sky Delta Magazine, Time Out Melbourne and Time Out Tokyo. You’ll hear her on regular slots at 2UE, ABC 702 and Hope 103.2, where she gets over excited about things to do at the weekend.


Katherine Sabbath

Katherine Sabbath

Cake Creative

Katherine Sabbath is a Sydney-based, self taught cake creative and passionate merry-maker. Originally a high school English, history, geography and commerce teacher, she has always been a self-confessed, sprinkle-covered, sticky-fingered, bake-aholic! Any spare hour would be spent mixing, rolling, piping, dusting (not to be confused with the housework kind), ganaching, sprinkling and of course, taste-testing! Her love for experimenting with new flavours and dessert concepts has led her to pack up the teaching textbooks and dive head first into the dessert world.  

She is happiest when creating thoughtful, unique and deliciously crazy cakes and desserts for loved ones, friends and family. Her work has been published in countless magazines, websites and social media channels. You can see her live in action by visiting any one of her dessert demonstrations or workshops held across Australia as well as internationally.  

After joining Instagram in early 2013, sharing photos of her creations and snap shots of her vibrant personality has resulted in an international cult following of more than 320,000 - serendipitously making her a household name among home bakers worldwide.  

In between teaching hands-on workshops, demonstrating in front of hungry audiences and supporting home bakers (who she believes are the best kinds of people), Katherine relishes in collaborating with others and has also worked alongside major brands and businesses through creative partnerships. Her latest project, the most ambitious project to date is a kickstarter pop-up cookbook of paper engineering and creative baking, a collaboration with talents such as creative director Tracy Lines, paper engineer Benja Harvey and photographer Nikki To. 

Profile photo by Chrissie Hall. 


Nikki To

Nikki To


As a political science graduate with a passion for food and the environment, Nikki channels her personal interests directly into her celebrated lifestyle photography. With her knowledge of global affairs and an elegant creative style, her work is equal parts gravitas and refinement.

Craving a creative outlet whilst completing a Bachelor of Economic & Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, Nikki’s photography hobby quickly became a full-time obsession. Though a postgraduate law degree was the typical next step for her field of studies, a role as photographer’s assistant was too tempting to refuse.  

Nikki perfected her craft working as an assistant and digital operator for a number of Australia’s leading photographers. This not only honed her photographic skills, but offered the chance to work on sought after international projects spanning Australia, Asia, America and Europe.  

Nikki’s calm and observant nature is reflected in her clean, balanced photography, which captures vast landscapes and fine details with equal mastery. Her distinctive photographic style has won her work with leading brands including Google Food, The Fink Group, The Shangri-La Hotel Group, Hilton Sydney, and Jamie Oliver. Nikki’s passions for quality produce and wholesome food are the perfect complement to her lifestyle photography. She regularly shoots food and restaurants for online magazine Broadsheet Sydney as well as other Australian editorial publications such as The Design Files and Qantas Magazine.  

Through her photography, Nikki hopes to continue to create meaningful, captivating work that illustrates her deep appreciation of social and environmental issues along with her love of all things culinary.  


Event Details

Evolving a Tasty Niche is in response to the global phenomenon of creative food careers, from food photography, cake design, dining experience, to food art, fueled by the power of social media. It is a world injected with robusting, novel energy everyday. Today’s niche easily becomes tomorrow’s cliché.  

So how do leading creatives innovate consistently to stay on top of the game? What are their growth strategies? What are their fears? How do they learn from failures? We will find out from this panel discussion.

Topics include  

- Taking food business to a new level with creativity
- Understanding and leveraging Sydney's creative food trends  
- Innovation and social media growth strategy 
- Food for social good: climate change and human rights 
- Getting your business on the radar of the top publishers and influencers 
- Converting your niche to economy 
- Successful crowdfunding and grant funding tips 
- Survival strategy in the highly competitive industry 
Speaker lineup 

Clayton Wells - Head Chef | Automata
Danling Xiao - Founder, Designer, Artist | Mundane Matters
Emma Joyce - Editor | Time Out Sydney
Katherine Sabbath - Cake Creative | Katherine Sabbath
Nikki To - Photographer | Nikki To


Cam Mackellar - Digital Content Specialist, Musician | Village Bells

Who should attend
This event is for anyone who eats, and has a passion. It would be particularly beneficial for professionals who work in/with the food industry, such as branding designers, marketers, photographers, interior designers, chefs, restaurateurs and social entrepreneurs; and food enthusiasts who are interested in entering into the food industry. 
10% of proceeds will be donated to Oxfam Australia. 
Oxfam is determined to change the world by mobilising the power of people against poverty. 

Above image: cake design - Katherine Sabbath; photographer - Nikki To. 

Presented by Mundane Matters, with media support from Time Out Sydney. 

Access and Inclusion

  • Wheelchair accessible - Access to the venue is suitable for wheelchairs (toilets, ramps/lifts etc.) and designated wheelchair spaces are available.
  • Hearing loop - A hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids. The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to 'T' (Telecoil) setting. Many venues have an induction hearing loop system. Check if your venue has this system.