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Food and beverage stories

Fine food fare

Edition 199_FineFoods

Wallaby fattened on King Island pastures, and leatherwood honey collected from pristine rainforests whetted appetites as Tasmania held centre stage at Australia’s premier fine food expo.

It’s the crème de la crème of food gatherings. A top shelf event.

Fine Food Australia, an annual event held in Melbourne last month, was a four-day extravaganza attracting more than 28,000 people.

And, for the first time in six years, Tasmania was part of it.

It’s no secret that Australia’s smallest state produces some of the most incredible foods and beverages on the planet.

Tasmania is blessed with a dream farming combination – famously pure water, fresh air, and rich soil. While a cool climate, with four distinct seasons, allows produce to ripen slowly, bringing an intensity of flavour.

And, the island’s premium produce was on display at Fine Food Australia at a special Tasmania Stand, organised by Brand Tasmania, where nine artisan producers showcased their wares to a packed crowd:

View the video for a ‘Taste of Tasmania’ at Fine Food Australia

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The Tasmania Stand was made possible with funding of $65,000 from the State Government, which contributed towards the $85,000 cost, with the remainder topped up by the nine exhibitors. 

And, for those on board, it’s already proving a worthwhile investment by connecting them with key decision makers, including distributors, food companies, and top Australian chefs.

“Was it worth it? Absolutely,” Freya Griffin from Tasfoods says.

“We were an exhibitor last year under our own steam, but this year there was enormous traction being part of a coordinated Tasmanian stand.

“The quality of leads this year was a lot higher, and there was a significant improvement in the conversations we had with decision makers, and all because we were able to leverage off Tasmania’s reputation.”

The Tasmanian message was also being spread by one of Australia’s most respected media personalities, who grew up in Launceston, and was at Fine Food Australia to help promote the island state.

“It’s almost like there is a trumpet out there. Everyone who goes to Tasmania sings its praises,” Ray Martin, a Brand Tasmania Ambassador, enthused.

“This is a food expo for Australia, yet they are all singing the praises of Tasmania; and that’s kind of nice.

“Tasmania is paradise when it comes to food, as long as we don’t mess around with it, as long as we keep it clean and green and pure, and as long as we continue to produce the sort of products that we currently are doing.”

This message was reinforced when Ray hosted a lunchtime forum, where ‘super chefs’ – Tetsuya Wakuda and David Hall, along with restaurateur Rodney Dunn – all gave their insights into ‘Tasmania’s Artisan Food Story’.

Michelin two-star chef and Brand Tasmania Ambassador, Tetsuya Wakuda, told the audience the island is “beyond organic”.

“The environment there is perfect. The clean air, and water and good soil make the Tasmanian Brand above and beyond perfect,” he has often said. 

Tetsuya heads up acclaimed restaurants in Sydney and Singapore, and Tasmanian produce – from wasabi to ocean trout – features prominently on the menu.

“Tasmania, that little island has everything in one place, just one place,” Tetsuya told the forum.

“It is such a rich state, and rich island, with seafood, vegetables, wine and [now it is the] international number one whisky producer in the world. It’s almost self-sufficient.”

Like Tetsuya, David Hall, has Tasmania on the menu.

He is the chef at Melbourne’s Pure South Restaurant, which for the last 15 years has promoted the state’s niche produce.

“Yes, everything is Tasmanian,” Hall told the audience.

“We get all our cream from Tasmania, our veg, our fish, our meat, our flour, our quinoa, it’s all from Tasmania.

“It’s been a big thing, Tasmania – for the past five to ten years – but I think we tapped into that market early enough that we are self-sufficient on our own.”

Rodney Dunn, owner of the award-winning Agrarian Kitchen in New Norfolk, was espousing seasonality and the power of local produce.

He thrilled the crowds with stories of tomatoes that taste just like ‘grandma's’, stone-fruit that dribble with juice, and “insanely sweet carrots”.

“Our climate is very different to the rest of Australia, and having the cold winter followed by the warm summer gives us a long ripening period, which gives our fruit and vegetables the most amazing taste,” Dunn has said.

“In fact, one of the most common comments we hear during winter is ‘I cannot believe that carrots could ever taste so amazing’.”

All up, it was a feast of fine food in Melbourne.

And, Tasmania’s first outing in years proved there is a big appetite for the island’s premium produce.

Image courtesy of Martin Turmine


13 October 2018, Edition 199

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