2015, the year of my return to the professional stoves, has been fantastic. Wombat Hollow Forums with Michael and Susie Yabsley have centred on art, music and fierce debate. The Farm Table Restaurant at Mittagong put into use the amazing produce from our farm and food and wine dinners with local winemakers kept the palate challenged and sated! Our very private cooking classes stepped up the Lessons From the Farm.
It has been uplifting to connect with my professional restaurant instincts and skills, and I’ve loved every minute of sharing my deepest passion with all the wonderful visitors to the Farm Table Restaurant. This chapter has drawn to a close as we move on to other food projects and focus on strengthening existing activities. It has been quite a surprise that so many regular diners from my Aviemore Restaurant days in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s came to reconnect and share a meal with us again. Of course, this is where my garden to table philosophy and lifestyle was born all those years ago. So many shared memories, thank you. The biggest bonus though was the opportunity to establish a professional relationship (in addition to a loving one of course) with my son Harrison, who graced our tables with charm and professional skills. That makes a father very proud indeed.
There are a number of diverse and exciting opportunities coming up.
My collaboration with Michael Yabsley at Wombat Hollow, which developed over much of 2014 and 2015, will continue in the new year. His dream is to build a centre of excellence for the arts and culture and a forum for progressive business discussions featuring prominent leaders in their field, all around good food. Michael and I are excited to pursue this combined vision together.
In 2008, I began a venture with Thomas Dux Grocers. Through my collaboration with Pat McEntee, I was charged with the task of developing a team who could understand and procure wonderful artisan products for customers of their specialist small grocery stores in Sydney and Melbourne. Seven years on, I still provide my hand made pizza bases through Thomas Dux, and I’m pleased to say that I will be back in store with Harry and my team to inspire with some new products from the farm and new ideas for creating some unique pizza creations!
Through the luxury travel company, Abercrombie and Kent, I have been taking gastronaughts around the world on food adventures. We’ve just completed an outstanding tour in Morocco with a terrific group, who assure me that there are still some fine rugs and artefacts left in Casablanca! The culture around markets and food is extraordinary. I was fortunate to take Harry with me on my first trip, a reconnaissance mission to put the tour together, and in early January, I will be going to map out the next tour… in Sri Lanka. This time my skilled eating and photography team will be daughter Natasha and son Jonny and together we will seek out and taste all that is delicious and intriguing on the emerald isle. The guided tour through A & K will be in October 2016 (see here for details).
Of course, as always, we will continue to focus on hand made products from the farm, and for now, you can taste these for yourself at Eveleigh Farmers Markets in Sydney, where we have a weekly stall. This is such a great venue at Carriageworks. The historic and atmospheric site is undercover, so we are on rain hail or shine, and of course you can make a day of it and take in a performance in the afternoon or evening just across the track.
We continue to have our products available online, in a number of local stores in Bowral, including Highlands Hampers . Carol from our local Harris Farm Markets is a real foodie, was a regular at the restaurant and a champion of local produce; I love working with her. She has arranged a fabulous local section at Bowral Harris Farm, displayed magnificently on an old cart and here you will find our Roasted Capsicum Jam and Bread and Butter Cucumbers along with those of other quality local providores.
I’d like to wish all our friends and partners a safe and enjoyable festive season; may good food, wine and friends always grace your table.