Stanley's Secret Ingredient

Karen (or ‘Chuz’ as she’s affectionately known) grew up in Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley, spending time on the orchard with her parents. Her mum’s love and passion for cooking, and sharing that, has been engrained with her from a young age. From the moment you walk into her café, it’s like you walk into her home.

Dance in Karen’s shoes at the Albanian Harvest Festival in March, or tempt your tastebuds with her traditional Albanian cuisine.

We're something unique and different here. It's like the moment you walk in the door, you walk into my home.

I'm Karen — ‘Chuz’ — from Stanley's Café Restaurant, from Shepparton in the Goulburn Valley, and we try and provide something that's just so unique and help people feel good, you know, and escape the world for the time that they're here. We sort of interconnect the Albanian cuisine along with what else we have to offer here, so when you walk through the place, you get that Mediterranean feel, you get something different, especially when you go into the alfresco area.

Also with my husband, his records, music has been a big passion (and still is) of his, and I think tying that together, you know, it's very soothing. Music is very healing, and that's why hubby and I have come together as one to do what we do and and help people feel good.

And they feel it when they come in.

Working alongside my mum is really, really special. She taught me how to cook Albanian cuisine and still does. She wanted to have something like this 20-odd years ago, you know, making Albanian cuisine for for a larger community, and I guess living helping her live her dream through me is really special.

I guess, my favorite memory would have to be spending time on the farm with my family, especially with my dad.

I always loved helping dad on the farm and on the tractors and on the orchard, and that's special times.

My grandfather, he came out to Australia in, I think, the 1940s and it's third generation. My dad's still here and still helps to help out on the farm, but my brother's taken the farm on for quite a number of years and grown it.

Albanian dancing is something that is quite fun, and as a little girl we learned how to dance. So for the Shepparton Albanian Harvest Festival, we have people from all around Australia that come. It's annually in March. It's been going for about 20 years. Because of the locally grown produce that we have here, we were able to showcase what we have, what we grow, together with the traditional Albanian cuisine that we make, and it's it's pretty special — and you have to come and visit and then you'll see what it's all about.