FA­MOUS FOR FOOD

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

ROSE Wright wants to start a food revo­lu­tion in the Whit­sun­days and af­ter this week’s Farm to Plate ini­tia­tive she just might.

The Farm to Plate pro­ject leader be­lieves all we have to do is tell our lo­cal res­tau­rant and deli own­ers, our green­gro­cers, butch­ers and fish­mon­gers, that lo­cal pro­duce is what we want.

“(And) if we all did that we (re­ally) would start a food revo­lu­tion in the Whit­sun­days,” she said.

Ms Wright is far from alone in her wish – in fact she has the sig­nif­i­cant back­ing of Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Lim­ited (WMDL), Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil, the State Gov­ern­ment, the Bowen Gumlu Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, a host of lo­cal grow­ers, pro­duc­ers and restau­ran­ters and even a celebrity chef.

On Mon­day, Matt Golin­ski leant his star power to the Whit­sun­day re­gion’s Farm to Plate inia­tive by join­ing forces with Greg Devine, the ex­ec­u­tive chef at Pep­pers Air­lie Beach, to cre­ate a sump­tu­ous cel­e­bra­tion of our re­gion’s finest pro­duce.

“I could have writ­ten five menus,” Mr Golin­ski said, speak­ing about the list of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents he was pre­sented with, in­clud­ing or­ganic fruit and veg­eta­bles from Bowen’s salad bowl, fish and prawns from the nearby reefs and spe­cial va­ri­eties of beef and pork from Christina della Valle’s Whit­sun­day Beefalo and Berk­shire Gold in Pre­ston.

Ms Wright said 85 peo­ple at­tended the din­ner on Mon­day night “and we could have booked another 85 had we had the space”.

Some even went back for more, tak­ing part in a farm tour on Tues­day, en­com­pass­ing pri­mary pro­duc­ers from Air­lie Beach to Bowen and back.

WMDL’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Man­ager Denise Kreym­borg said it was great to see so much en­gage­ment and such a sig­nif­i­cant col­lab­o­ra­tion from lo­cal pro­duc­ers, sup­ply chains, restau­rants and tourism op­er­a­tors, build­ing links across agri-tourism and in turn grow­ing the lo­cal econ­omy.

“Trends show that agri­cul­ture and tourism are pre­dicted to be the next boom in­dus- tries and WMDL is com­mit­ted to build­ing the ca­pac­ity of both agri­cul­tural and tourism busi­nesses to be able to lever­age op­por­tu­ni­ties through ini­tia­tives such as this agri-tourism pro­ject,” she said.

As for what’s next, Ms Wright says Tourism Aus­tralia has a pro­gram pro­mot­ing Aus­tralia as a food and wine des­ti­na­tion.

“They fea­ture the Whit­sun­days. Now what we have to do is de­liver that ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

IN THE KITCHEN: Pep­pers Air­lie Beach ex­ec­u­tive chef Greg Devine and celebrity chef Matt Golin­ski, cre­at­ing gourmet canapes from lo­cal pro­duce. Photo Sharon Small­wood

FOOD GLO­RI­OUS FOOD: Whit­sun­day Gold Cof­fee plan­ta­tion man­ager Ali Simp­son and Aus­tralian celebrity chef Matt Golin­ski pro­mot­ing a "farm to plate" strat­egy in Proser­pine this week.

FARM FRESH: Whit­sun­day Beefalo and Berk­shire Gold owner Christina della Valle raises her Berk­shire pigs on a veg­e­tar­ian diet in a truly free range en­vi­ron­ment on her farm in Pre­ston.

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