River­side rev­o­lu­tion

An Aussie ver­sion of a hit UK food show strives to change the way we eat, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

IN THE first episode of River Cot­tage Aus­tralia, its star Paul West ex­plains to the orig­i­nal River Cot­tager, celebrity chef Hugh Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall, that the area his farm­house is on is called Tilba, the lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal word for ‘‘windy’’.

And as film­ing of the se­ries wrapped on the NSW south coast on Fri­day, it’s cer­tainly liv­ing up to its name, with the added at­trac­tion of hor­i­zon­tal rain.

But wan­der­ing around the small­hold­ing, ad­mir­ing West’s re­cently added an­i­mal fam­ily – pigs, cows, chick­ens and a duck along with a very ap­peal­ing dog – it’s plain to see lots has been achieved in just four months.

The veg­etable plots that Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall helped dig and plant are burst­ing with win­ter greens and herbs.

Heart-warm­ingly, the Bri­tish TV star is full of ad­mi­ra­tion for West.

‘‘He’s a re­ally lovely guy,’’ Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall says, as we grab some shel­ter in­side the farm­house along­side some re­cently in­cu­bated fluffy chicks, hud­dling un­der a warm­ing light.

‘‘He’s very pas­sion­ate, he’s very smart and he has for me ex­actly the right sen­si­bil­ity to make this thing hap­pen here.’’ What ‘‘this thing’’ is, is not just an­other cook­ing show. West is recre­at­ing in Aus­tralia the idea that Fearn­leyWhit­tingstall had more than 15 years ago – to sur­vive largely on food grown, reared, for­aged or bartered for, lo­cally.

Over the eight episodes of River Cot­tage Aus­tralia, West will show what it’s like to live off the land – whether it’s

River Cot­tage Aus­tralia grop­ing for oc­to­pus in a lo­cal es­tu­ary or butcher­ing his own pigs.

And the tal­ented chef re­alises the op­por­tu­nity he’s been af­forded with the show is a lux­ury not ev­ery­one can have.

But he hopes view­ers will see the en­joy­ment he gets from fol­low­ing his food from the farm to his din­ner ta­ble, and this will help in­form even the most so­phis­ti­cated citydweller to make bet­ter food choices. ‘‘Sup­ply will al­ways re­flect de­mand,’’ West says. ‘‘If peo­ple start de­mand­ing to know their an­i­mals have been raised eth­i­cally and de­mand­ing to know the veg­eta­bles they’re eat­ing are sea­sonal, then com­pa­nies will lis­ten.’’

This has been re­flected in re­cent times, he says, by supermarkets dis­play­ing the prove­nance of foods in­clud­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles so con­sumers can make in­formed choices. ‘‘Five or 10 years ago that didn’t hap­pen,’’ West says. ‘‘An or­ange was an or­ange, you didn’t know where it was from and chances are the guy stack­ing the shelves if you asked him, (he) didn’t know.’’

River Cot­tage Aus­tralia: Thurs­days, 8.30pm, Life­style Chan­nel.

Hugh Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall and Paul West snapped for

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