Hunter, chef and racon­teur

Field and Game - - BUSH TO BANQUET -

Hunter, chef, restau­ra­teur, game­keeper, cheese­maker, even pos­sum skin ex­porter, are all ti­tles held at var­i­ous times by Al­bert Tau­rian. Matt Fowles’ guest chef left Italy as a youth to find ad­ven­ture and be­came a leg­end in his adopted state of Tas­ma­nia.

There’s not much Al­bert Tau­rian hasn’t tried when it comes to game but per­haps his crown­ing achieve­ment came when he started the first pri­vate pheas­ant shoot in Tas­ma­nia.

One of his early clients was the re­gional man­ager for Ansett Air­lines and Al­bert sug­gested hunt­ing tours would give them an edge over ri­val air­line TAA. “A few days later I flew into Mel­bourne and sat down with Reg Ansett and not only con­vinced him to do a deal but left with free travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion to pro­mote the shoot around Aus­tralia,” Al­bert said.

Ansett even put a hunt­ing scene on the cover of its “a mil­lion hol­i­day ideas” brochure. “Reg was a hunter and he wanted to pro­mote Tas­ma­nia, he also used to come down him­self to the shoot,” Al­bert said.

The Turn­ers Marsh trips were one of the first pack­age hol­i­day deals of­fered to Tas­ma­nia; you can just imag­ine the so­cial me­dia furore to­day if an air­line pro­moted hunt­ing hol­i­days.

It is typ­i­cal of Al­bert’s ap­proach to life, which is to never miss an op­por­tu­nity.

He grew up in Tau­ri­ano, a small vil­lage in an au­ton­o­mous prov­ince north of Rome. He jokes the town was named Tau­rian but the ‘o’ was added to make it sound more Ital­ian. “My fa­ther and my fam­ily, we all shot; I started when I was eight or nine dur­ing World War II,” he said. “We used to dis­arm hand grenades be­cause they had pow­der in them like spaghetti; we put it through a cof­fee grinder and used it to load shot­gun car­tridges. “We used to wait for the Ger­mans to leave the trenches and go back to bar­racks then my brother and I would sneak in and pinch some hand grenades; if they caught us they would have shot us but we were like rab­bits. “I had a 24-gauge we would load and test un­til we got the mix right, then we would go hunt­ing at night with a lit­tle spot­light for cock pheas­ants roost­ing in the trees.”

By the age of 22 Al­bert was in the army and look­ing for ad­ven­ture. He heard about Aus­tralia and de­cided he should at least have a look.

His first des­ti­na­tion was a farm­ing sur­vey camp on Flin­ders Is­land in 1957, aged 23, He quickly re­alised no­body in the camp had a gun, let alone an in­ter­est in hunt­ing. “I flew back to Launce­s­ton as soon as I made a bit of money and bought a gun at Sports Hut, a beau­ti­ful Brown­ing un­der and over, a cut down .303 and a Hard­ing

fish­ing rod,” he said.

It came to £105 and Al­bert only had £45 but he quickly struck a deal to take the goods and send money each fort­night un­til he cleared the debt. “He didn’t know me; that’s why I fell in love with Aus­tralia, peo­ple trust you.”

The next time Al­bert was in Launce­s­ton, he bought a labrador and two cocker spaniels. “Be­cause I was driv­ing a big ex­ca­va­tor they let me have dogs. I had a ken­nel be­hind my hut and used to go hunt­ing quail, duck and snipe,” he said. “One day the ducks were so plen­ti­ful on a patch of wa­ter, there must have been thou­sands; I fired two shots as they got up and went back to camp with 25 ducks.”

As many im­mi­grants of the time did, Al­bert worked on the Snowy Moun­tains scheme but his love for hunt­ing, cook­ing and a party didn’t suit the strict work camp so he de­cided to re­turn to Tas­ma­nia where he had been made to feel wel­come by the gun store owner. There would be one brief stop in Mel­bourne on the way. “I came from a good fam­ily and my mum filled my pock­ets with money be­fore I left Italy,” he said. “We stopped in Cey­lon, Sri Lanka, on the way to Aus­tralia and my love of jew­els led me to a lit­tle shop full of pre­cious stones. I couldn’t un­der­stand a word but then a tall In­dian man came out and started speak­ing in Ital­ian — he’d learned the lan­guage serv­ing with the Bri­tish dur­ing the war. “He laid out th­ese stones and told me I could dou­ble my money in Aus­tralia; they cost me £46, half of what I had.” Al­bert went to a jew­eller in Lons­dale St to see what he could get for his spec­u­la­tive in­vest­ment. “I opened the cloth and his eyes lit up, he did some adding and said, ‘You might do bet­ter down the road but I don’t think so, I can go to £2200’. “Whoopee! When I got back to Tas­ma­nia I bought my­self a log truck and I had my own busi­ness, when I sold the log truck I bought the pheas­ant farm.” Af­ter the pheas­ant farm he opened his first restau­rant, Quigley’s, in Launce­s­ton in 1973. “Ital­ian food to suit Aus­tralians,” he said. When that ended, he moved into cheese mak­ing, had a busi­ness ex­port­ing pos­sum skins to Italy and then even­tu­ally re­turned to the restau­rant game with No­varo’s. In 2013 he was awarded the Tasmanian Hos­pi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion’s Ber­tie Tuc­ceri Award for his con­tri­bu­tion to Tas­ma­nia’s food in­dus­try. “I helped change the cul­ture of food in Launce­s­ton with veni­son, duck and pheas­ants; no­body was serv­ing it in those days,” he said. “Game meat in Aus­tralia should be avail­able in our restau­rants.” Al­bert says cook­ing game is a mat­ter of trial, er­ror and prac­tice. “If you don’t make love you can’t be­come a good lover,” he said.

The log­ging truck the jew­els paid for

Al­bert Tau­rian is at home in the kitchen

Al­bert in his birth­place

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