Straight To The Source started out as an innovative way of connecting hospitality professionals with a dedicated group of small and ethical producers. It has since evolved from the experienced industry partnership of Tawnya Bahr and Lucy Allon organising specialised tours, into a passionate advocate for those on the land, whose voice, sadly, is not often heard.
Throughout this development, many strong relationships have been formed with their clients, showcasing the produce, with great appeal to their customers.
By providing the unique opportunity for chefs and industry to experience first-hand the detailed production, taste and philosophical point of difference in a proper head space and setting, away from the frenetic nature of their job and workplace, Straight To The Source allows the producers’ message to resonate in a far more meaningful manner.
The enlightening ALTO olive oil masterclass conducted in its production facility by Westerly Isbaih is the perfect example.
“You just can’t afford not to go on a Straight To The Source tour if you are a serious chef looking for that next level of inspiration,” said Paul Rifkin, executive chef at the Campbelltown Catholic Club, who has been on many tours.
The recent tour of The Southern Tablelands in NSW uncovered pockets of a largely undiscovered food bowl that is deserving of far wider recognition, and the upcoming tour of The Grampians, where tour attendees will visit Greenvale Farm, Mount Zero Olives (including visiting a majestic pink salt lake), and The Royal Mail Hotel promises to be just as captivating and educational. The opportunity for professional development, whilst fully engaging and bonding with peers, underpins every trip.
In the modern era, often the closest a chef gets to validating the provenance of their produce is a trip to the local markets, so the opportunity to totally understand the fullness of food’s journey before it reaches the kitchen is one to grab with both hands. Acknowledging the quality of the produce through cooking is one thing, but talking directly to the producers, fully absorbing their philosophy, and connecting with the produce in its proper environment, is another level altogether.
Hospitality is renowned for long hours, so the value of consciously taking a step back and getting back to the core of what truly motivates an individual is easily overlooked. “I met and made contacts that will be great for me, but more than that I came back invigorated,” said Anna-Jane Doulton of Conjurup Food. On the overnight tours, stories and tales are shared amongst the group over dinner, which often forges a bond that will remain long after the trip is over.
Looking further ahead, three exciting truffle hunts, including the first of the season at Tarago trufferie, and the remaining two at Yelverton, in collaboration with the well credentialed Black Star Pastry, allow the mystique surrounding this time honoured tradition to be explored. Later in the year, the very popular ‘Catch and Cook’ tour in South Australia’s remote Western Eyre Peninsula, will showcase the food of the local Indigenous community. 2016 promises to deliver even more of the rejuvenating and memorable experiences that Straight ToThe Source package together so well.