Howes Creek life­style for sale

Mansfield Courier - - Your Say -

Walk­ing into Matt and Jackie Mer­chant’s kitchen is a bit like walk­ing into an episode of The Cook and The Chef.

Matt, seated next to an enor­mous wall oven, hold­ing a cup of espresso, talks an­i­mat­edly about his fam­ily’s con­nec­tion to the kitchen – where they have spent 30 years UH¿QLQJ UHFLSHV KDQGHG GRZQ

Jackie does not sit; in­stead, she talks while pulling down bowls and ladels, push­ing aside vases of home-grown herbs to clear space as she mea­sures ÀRXU

Jackie and Matt run Howes Creek Farm, a 16 acre pig prop­erty com­plete with com­mer­cial kitchen, re­tail store and café.

Start­ing out 10 years ago, WKH\ ¿UVW EHJDQ EXWFKHULQJ IRU home use.

From there, it grew to in­clude fam­ily and friends; then farm­ers mar­kets and, two years ago, cul­mi­nated in open­ing a café on the farm it­self.

From the out­set, the point of dif­fer­ence was qual­ity.

There is no scrimp­ing on in­gre­di­ents, no buying in bulk to spread costs.

In­stead, they are both pas­sion­ate about food – pork prod­ucts that linger on the palate.

The or­ganic health in­dus­try in Aus­tralia is worth an es­ti­mated $919 mil­lion, and there is a grow­ing clean eat­ing move­ment.

But rather than look­ing to the future, Jackie and Matt have found their suc­cess in look­ing back.

“We need to con­sider what we are putting in our bod­ies, what we are con­sum­ing,” Matt said.

“When you see meat, it’s more than likely been pumped full of ni­trates.

“Ni­trates; you shouldn’t even han­dle the stuff with­out gloves on, but we are putting it in our food.”

So, us­ing a recipe crafted a cen­tury ago, Matt cre­ates pork prod­ucts like those from years gone by.

Ham that is cured in salt and herbs and left to smoke for 10 hours.

Ba­con that is more brown than pink – no ni­trates will do that – but that tastes like it has been smoked over pep­per­corns and honey.

READY TO MOVE ON: Af­ter 10 years, Matt and Jackie Mer­chant are look­ing for a new chal­lenge.

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