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Culinary Conscious: Eighty/Twenty Food

Jessica Schumann

In life, there are certain activities you do that account for the majority of your happiness.

Eating is likely to be one of them. Be it a side of MasterChef in the kitchen, sampling the cultural dishes at yet another festival or market, or hitting the street of Canberra to indulge in a little something special. But if, like me, you feel guilty eating out even when you choose the healthiest dish on the menu (Salad, again.), then get your feeding face ready for the latest culinary hangout that has hit the blocks of Braddon. And it opens today!

Difference certainly is key when it comes to dining out in our beloved city and with the most restaurants per capita, I wouldn’t blame you for wondering just how it is Canberra continues to adopt these amazing eateries without doubling up on flavour, dishes or concepts.

Yet for sisters Klarisa Cengic and Tihana Ravanparsa that’s exactly what drove them to launch their latest foodie venture, Eighty/Twenty Food and create a pleasurable experience for both mind and body.

Many people in Canberra think that to eat healthy you first need a healthy bank balance. But this dynamic duo is pulling out the tablecloth to show Canberrans that enjoying a healthy, indulgent and nutritious meal is possible without breaking the bank.

For Klarisa and Tihana food is what it means to be family, especially when you’re of a strong Crotian background—the very inspiration for their café.

“Everything is and has always been about food,” says Klarisa the middle child of three. “Birthdays, Christmases, family get-togethers always revolve around food but food that makes you feel good. It’s how we celebrate.”

“We’re not the kind of girls who eat a kale leaf and feel ultimately satisfied. And so Eighty/Twenty is based on that philosophy of eat well 80 per cent of the time and indulge 20 per cent. We wanted it to have a healthy focus, but a realistic healthy focus.”

Adds Tihana, “It’s about enjoying food that is yummy, but healthy with everything in moderation.”

This is not the first time the duo has worked together before either. In fact, the idea of opening a café together is something they have talked about quite often.


“People in the past never believed that we were sisters but we work well as a team and just bounce off each other,” says Tihana. “We’ve been told plenty of times to go into business together.”

Well now they have and we can’t wait to see how Canberra receives them especially with the promise to be your smoothie masters, salad queens, wholesome goodness kings and friends of caffeine and wine.

Offering their customers a culinary and educational experience, Eighty/Twenty will have a 7-day seasonal breakfast menu that changes every three months and a five-item lunch menu that changes weekly.

veg power.jpg

eighty/twenty food's Veg Power Plate

“We’re going a little against the grain with soups every day and a huge variety of delicious, yummy and Moorish salads,” shares Klarisa.

“Our menu is designed to educate our customers and show that you can create flavours without dousing things in salt & pepper, tomato sauce or rich creamy dressings.”

“Salads will be combinational allowing those who love a little bit of everything to do exactly that with dressings served on the side and limited to just three choices.”

No mayonnaise, no aioli; just three clean and simple dressings.

“At home it’s always a little olive oil and lemon, so we’ve done the same thing in the café with three very simple dressings—olive oil and lemon, balsamic and a tahini,” says Tihana.


Growing up largely on a diet of European food, both Klarisa and Tihana understand that to eat healthy food is more than just eating a salad.

“You can have a beautiful stew that has all the right ingredients and it’s completely healthy,” says Klarisa. “It’s has all your recommended food groups, and it’s exactly what we consider healthy and nutritious.”

“We wanted our menu to have nutritious meals but encourage people that it’s ok to indulge a little bit. You’re not going to die if you eat a piece of cake. It’s probably going to make you pretty happy.”

And even if you do have a sweet tooth says Tihana, at Eighty/Twenty you can still have your cake and eat it too.

“With our cakes and sweet selections we don’t want people to feel bad. Our selection will include raw cakes; things that don’t have all the bad sugars in them,” she says.

“They’ll use natural sugars and ingredients that are as a natural as possible. We’re trying to keep away from the processed stuff,” adds Klarisa.


Slim Leafy

Tapping into local suppliers, Eighty/Twenty will see produce such as The Fix Cold Pressed Juices and Pialligo Estate bacon incorporated into its dishes. But the girls stress that ingredients will be sourced locally where possible, and that at the end of the day it’s simply about feeding customers nutritious and wholesome food that makes you feel good.

Both in their twenties, one with a marketing background and the other hospitality, the sisters are happy to admit they’re by no means qualified nutritionists, and have done plenty of market research in preparation take on the world of food in Canberra. With two qualified chefs, Mark and Matt, on board for the ride also the ideas are already pouring out of the kitchen.

“Mark is all for experimenting and is really open minded to our ideas but he definitely keeps us in check and grounded,” says Klarisa. “Reminding us that some flavours just aren’t meant to be mixed together. He’s also showing us how we can use every part of an ingredient and reduce our wastage.”

“We’re going to be making Labnah (an Arabic cream cheese) and so the other day Mark was telling me about the protein levels in the leftover watery stuff.”

“I asked if we could put it into smoothies and he just looked at me and said ‘No, that would just taste weird. But we can use it to ferment the cabbage for sauerkraut,” she laughs.


Bircher Muesli and Green Smoothie

Definitely not blinded by their vision for the café, Klarisa and Tihana are determined to do whatever it takes to keep the doors open, the coffee brewing and the customers walking in. With a love for early morning starts and mingling with the regulars, Tihana has worked in hospitality since she was a teen.

“I love being at the front of house and chatting with customers,” she says. “While Klarisa is the business mind, managing the accounts and marketing.”

But it works because the two are more than just sisters. They are friends. They are family. And now they are business partners.

Don’t mistake these Croatian beauties for another couple of young upstarts either. The sisters will be working closely with their suppliers to serve up the most flavoursome dishes each week and ensuring that the produce is the best, the freshest and seasonal. While it might mean the menu is decided just days before it changes, it helps keep the price of dishes reasonable—something the girls are very conscious about.

“If the weather changes drastically and affects produce in Queensland, prices increase, but we don’t want to be passing those high price onto our customers,” says Tihana.

“We’ll have a transparent relationship with our suppliers to make sure our prices stay affordable. If someone can come in and have a bite to eat with a coffee for under $20, then we’ve achieved that.”


With nothing to hide, the girls are offering the same transparency in their business and are encouraging customers to become involved and ask for their favourite dish on the menu, even if it changes.

“Tihana and I are very open. We’re really down to earth and our café will 100 per cent reflect this,” says Klarisa.

“It’s just us and what’s on your plate.”

The essentials

What: Eighty/Twenty Food
Where: Lonsdale Street, Braddon (opposite Waves Car Wash)
When: Breakfast and Lunch


Jessica Schumann

A 'rambling ranga' at heart, Jessica Schumann is a bubbly, creative social thinker who thrives on words, social media and an innate knack for sharing stories. When she finds the time to write, Jessica seeks out the beauty in change and the essence of human condition. Varied and diverse in nature, her writing delves into the enviable world of people, travel, food and culture. When you can't find her in a nook writing, just follow your nose and you’ll soon find Jessica indulging in her other passion – cooking – or curled up on the couch with a good book in hand. You can find her over at More about the Author

  • As a friend and as one of my clients I can honestly say I am so thankful that eighty/twenty has opened up in Canberra. Not only is it wholesome food but both my 1 year old and 3 year old absolutely love the food! I don’t have to worry about hidden nasties feeding my kids at all. Such a great experience being there on their first day and feeling so good that eating out doesn’t mean eating no no foods. I cannot wait to take my clients on business meetings or other mums to this very stylish cafe ( and yes I want to steal those light fixtures because they are AMAZING!).

  • Trish

    I popped in yesterday for coffee and breakfast – I had the Bircher Muesli, which I’ll always order if I see it on the menu, anywhere. So I can tell you with 20+ years of research behind me, that this was the best Bircher Muesli I’ve ever had. It was light and crunchy and perfectly soaked all at the same time, and delicious. Perfect. And the coffee was excellent.