Electrolux Appetite for Excellence finalists’ produce tour

The 2011 Electrolux Appetite for Excellence finalists bussed it around Queensland on a week long tour meeting farmers and producers, prior to last night’s announcement of the winner. What a wonderful experience for the Young Chefs, Waiters and Restaurateurs to meet the producers of the food they will cook and serve. This tour contributes significantly in the goal of the programme to passionately inspire, nurture and celebrate young excellence throughout the Australian culinary industry.

As part of their prize package, the finalists embarked on this inspiring produce tour scouring the Queensland coastline and produce rich south west region to unearth the best produce from some of the country’s top primary producers. The event provides an insight in to the passions, challenges and business operations of various produce industries.

The tour gave the finalists an opportunity to experience first-hand the passionate producers from Queensland responsible for the outstanding quality meat, seafood, fruit, and vegetables that we enjoy in the country’s best restaurants. Queenslanders have had an incredibly tough year. Understanding how these hardships affect the producers and the produce available in our restaurants is an important learning for young hospitality professionals.

As I joined them during the week, I realised that the produce tour was about so much more: more than getting out of the restaurants where they worked, more than getting their hands dirty at the source, and more than learning about the food they will cook and serve, more even than learning about the farmers and producers.

Here, together in one group, we had the cream our next generation.

Last night in his awards speech, guest of honour Chef Shane Osborn talked about the meaning of hospitality. Earlier in the day he’d shared with me how he believes the industry is friendlier and more supportive today, than it was even four or five years ago. I believe, that this fantastic Australian award also helps our Australian hospitality professionals develop new friendships, swap ideas and create industry bonds that will last a lifetime.

Midway through the tour, the gang got to show each other their stuff. The Rockcliff family, generously hosted a BBQ with abundant fresh Queensland seafood, at their lovely Twin Waters home. There was so much stunning produce to choose from, and great fun seeing all of the finalists, opening cupboards, looking for condiments, and creating some pretty special platters. Though there was sparkling and wine on offer, the night for me, seemed just right for a beer.

On the Sunday night, the excited and nervous Australian young Chefs and Waiters, while waiting for the judges decision of the winners on the following night, dished up a beautiful dinner using the produce from the tour. Each Chef and Waiter was allocated one item of produce from the tour, produce which they had seen first hand, and used that item of produce as the focal point of their dish at the dinner.

2011 Young Australian Chef of the Year, Richard Ousby described his delicious dish as Slow roasted onions, Witches Chase camembert, cacciatorini, olive crumb and rocket cress.

Produce dinner photographs courtesy of the talented DomandHeath

Produce tour photographs by Rebecca Varidel

for more information see the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence website

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