Spirits are high in anticipation of what will be the inaugural Good Food Ballarat month. The intention was evident amongst these culinary comrades, to seal our reputation as a food destination. Our chefs are determined to gather our outstanding regional produce and create world class food and wine. Melbourne may be food headquarters but it is high time the culinary capital realises we are an exceptional gastronomic tourism destination.
From left, Front Row, Amy Walker, Sarah Mc Kenzie, Brad Fernando, Kate Burrows, Back Row, Suzi Fitzpatrick, Liam Downes, Ryan Guo, Jeff Trotter, Margo Pettit, Peter Ford and Meg Campana.
Federation University’s sessional cookery teacher and chef Ryan Pierce is a huge supporter of our local gastronomy. In his role as teacher he has developed a contemporary curriculum, featuring nose to tail eating, current food trends and seasonal produce driven 'Carte de Jour'. Prospects the trade school restaurant has been host to many of Australia’s top chefs in 2014 including Matt Germanchis of Pei Modern, Yvan Meunier of Damm Fine Food and Daniel Southern of Comme. Ten students from Federation University are volunteering in the kitchen at Good Food Ballarat premium event, a taste of Ballarat at the Mining Exchange on November 29. A degustation dinner headed by guest chef Stefano De Pieri and five local chefs.
Amy Walker, Federation University third year chef said, "Good Food Month is great for the uni students, many students haven’t had much experience, we don’t get the chance to do a lot of networking, connecting with our local food champions is a wonderful opportunity. I can’t wait to see what we are cooking.” Head chef of the George Hotel complex, Liam Downes, “Good Food Month has all our best eateries getting on board. This year we have kept things simple but this event will be a great showcase on our local event calendar and next year we will all be thinking outside the box. Good food month is a terrific vehicle to feature our diverse local surroundings."
Chef Jeff Trotter is new to our region. Jeff is the head chef at the Emerson in South Yarra and head chef at Jackson and Co Ballarat, a multimillion dollar reformation of one of Ballarat's oldest hotels, John Jackson built the first hotel on the site in 1860. Jeff is celebrating our exceptional local produce, Sher Wagu, Western Plains Pork and Sebastian Jurcan's Country Style Smallgoods, just a peek at the bounty of our food bowl on offer.
A significant event in the month’s events is The Dumpling Discovery at new restaurant, Fu Man Lou on November 16. Our culinary history is imbued with Chinese culture . Since the Eureka era we have celebrated a love of Chinese food. Chef Ryan Guo returned to our region after a three year edification in China Town’s best kitchens. Ryan said the dumpling menu will be very simple flavours - twelve tastings, including pork, seafood, vegetarian and two dessert dumplings a traditional bbq pork dessert dumpling and a red bean paste.
Arty café Eclectic Tastes are conducting cooking classes, owner Margo Pettit said “We sold out within a week, the locals are ecstatic to be learning the secrets to some of our signature dishes and we are so pleased to be donating the proceeds from the classes as food vouchers to our local Soup bus.” Eclectic tastes is well known for great coffee and barista Meg Campana joined Margo for the shoot. Meg Said “Good Food Week has every one talking, locals must support these great local happenings to secure this event as a part of our food culture”.
The event organised by the Ballarat Courier, a Fairfax Media publication, Tourism Ballarat and savvy hospitality marketing duo Kate Burrows and Sarah McKenzie’s have really triumphed. The timing is ideal as we lead up to the social period of Christmas events and work breakups. If your bosses haven’t booked you in for a tasty bite and a drop of great local wine you had better encourage them to make a call.
I asked our local celebrity chef Peter Ford of Peter Ford Catering and Events what he was looking forward to attending but Pete Just Laughed. “You know I have a slim chance of attending any events,” this is their busiest time of the year, as our premier caterers they have plenty of events booked until the end of May. Peter Said “If I could go to one event it would be the Tapas and Wine evening at Campana's Stockade Cellars, Leanne and Tony are hosting a Tapas night with vinters matching food with wine or perhaps its wine with food.” Whatever the match, this is sure to be a highlight of the event.
If you haven’t taken a trip to Ballarat in the past few years you will be amazed at how much our food industry has changed. We have removed the shackles of our past. We will be taken seriously, our eateries have defined the region, encompassing the farming agriculture, the best of Victoria within 100 miles. We pay homage to the our regional industry leaders who have shown us the way, Alla Wolf Tasker, Annie Smithers, Stephano Pierererer , Dan Hunter and his predecessor George Byron. With all our hands, heads and hearts in the kitchen we believe in a future where our local chefs will join the foodie victors. Now bring on the Chef Hats please.