Dou­ble treat for our food­ies

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood and Char­lotte Lam

CHRISTINA della Valle has al­ways be­lieved “what is good for my an­i­mals is good for the con­sumer eat­ing the meat”.

Next week she has a chance to share that phi­los­o­phy in an ini­tia­tive de­signed to make the Whit­sun­days fa­mous for its food.

Ms della Valle’s Whit­sun­day Beefalo and Berk­shire Gold prod­ucts will be part of a “farm to plate” strat­egy about con­nect­ing pro­duc­ers, restau­ran­teurs and peo­ple who like to eat, while also putting the re­gion on the food­ies’ map.

Next Mon­day and Tues­day, Aus­tralian celebrity chef Matt Golin­ski will be one of the star at­trac­tions at a Farm to Plate din­ner hosted by the Tides Restau­rant at Pep­pers Air­lie Beach and a re­gional pro­duce mas­ter class and farm tour.

The other star at­trac­tions will be the food.

The din­ner menu on Mon­day night will fea­ture al­most ex­clu­sively lo­cal pro­duce in­clud­ing crabs, prawns, reef fish, beef, and a shoul­der of Ms della Valle’s pork.

There will be ri­cotta cheeses made from lo­cal milk, as well as lo­cal honey, macadamias, straw­ber­ries, cof­fee and chick­peas.

Among the phe­nom­e­nal veggies, zucchini, baby corn, Bowen toma­toes, whole ranges of herbs and rain­bows of capsicum are set to shine.

Even the drinks will be lo­cally sourced in­clud­ing rum, vodka, schnapps, gin­ger beer and mango puree for cock­tails.

Mr Golin­ski said us­ing lo­cal pro­duce was one of the things he was pas­sion­ate about.

“I love the fact that ev­ery re­gion in Australia has dif­fer­ent pro­duce, dif­fer­ent cli­mates and dif­fer­ent peo­ple pro­duc­ing it,” he said.

“When you are a chef that loves to cook, and you meet a farmer that loves to pro­duce, you are an un­stop­pable team.”

Farm to Plate project leader Rose Wright said plan­ning for a re­gional farm to plate strat­egy, de­vel­oped through the Whit­sun­day, Mackay and Isaac coun­cils, State Gov­ern­ment and lo­cal tourism bod­ies, ac­tu­ally started a year ago.

“And what came out were some re­ally clear op­por­tu­ni­ties to connect the re­gion – we have a huge, rel­a­tively un­known pro­duce, grown, caught and raised in the re­gion and the amount we con­sume in the re­gion ap­proaches a bil­lion dol­lars in the year,” she said.

“That’s a huge mar­ket.”

Ms Wright said the mas­ter class and farm tour on Tues­day was about de­vel­op­ing ca­pac­ity for farm­ers to connect in the mar­ket and look at how they could open their farms to lo­cals and vis­i­tors.

She re­it­er­ated the aim be­hind the farm to plate strat­egy and up­com­ing events was for the Mackay, Whit­sun­day and Isaac re­gions to one day be known for their high qual­ity pro­duce and food ex­pe­ri­ences.

Ms della Valle, who is just as pas­sion­ate about giv­ing con­sumers a healthy, eth­i­cal prod­uct, and even plays clas­si­cal mu­sic to her an­i­mals, agrees.

“And I hope it will make peo­ple in the Whit­sun­days re­alise that lo­cal pro­duce from places like Bowen is the way to go – they know where it comes from and they can in­ves­ti­gate it per­son­ally. Hope­fully it is very good for the re­gion,” she said. “From pad­dock to plate, from birth to ba­con – my pigs are raised on veggies, they don’t get any an­tibi­otics or any hor­mones and you get pure pork the way pork should be.”

Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and Devel­op­ment Limited Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Manager Denise Kreym­borg said next week was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity and that hav­ing Mr Golin­ski in town was a great start­ing point.

“To host a celebrity chef of his stan­dard in the re­gion shows how great the in­dus­try is and that the op­por­tu­nity is there,” she said.

Although Mon­day’s din­ner has al­ready sold, Mr Golin­ski highly rec­om­mends Tues­day’s mas­ter class and farm tour, which are free to at­tend.

The day in­cludes cater­ing, trans­port, mas­ter class re­sources and a re­gional pro­duce sam­ple bag.

Bookings must be made by 6pm, Fri­day, June 12 and tick­ets are avail­able through the web­site whit­sun­dayt­ick­

Photo: con­trib­uted

PAD­DOCK TO PLATE: Celebrity chef Matt Golin­ski will be dish­ing up lo­cal pro­duce at a spe­cial Farm to Plate event next week.

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