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Famous for our food

By Mark Beale

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 industries 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.

From the foodies

“It’s an honour to be working with the local producers who have created some of the freshest and best food in Australia and the highly professional team at Peppers Airlie Beach.”

Matt Golinski – professional chef

“I would hope this makes people in the area who were maybe thinking it was too hard to get hold of local produce start realising it’s a lot easier than they think and start adopting some of these things onto their menus.”

Greg Devine – Executive Chef, Tides Restaurant, Peppers Airlie Beach

“I want every local who reads this paper to walk into their local restaurant, cafe, burger joint or pub, their local butcher, greengrocer or retailer and ask ‘is this food local and who was the farmer that grew it’. If we all did that we would start a food revolution in the Whitsundays.”

Rose Wright – Farm to Plate project leader

“I hope that the local restaurants and the local deli’s start to realise that buying local food is the way to go because the consumer wants to know where their food has come from.”

Christina della Valle – Whitsunday Beefalo and Berkshire Gold

“People aren’t going to come from Brisbane to go to my restaurant – they’re going to come to Airlie Beach so I think all of us should be prioritising our region not ourselves and thinking about promoting a local food culture.”

Kevin Collins – Fish D’Vine, Airlie Beach

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