the cultured butter

myrtleford butter

written by Lilani Goonesena

Intrepid and innovative are the words that spring to mind at our visit to Myrtleford Butter Factory on the third day of the Electrolux Appetite for Excellent Produce Tour in Victoria. In 2008, Naomi Ingleton, a former chef, bought a rundown, 110-year old butter factory. Initially she set up a café but a year later, dwindling business pushed Naomi to change direction.

“I was making butter in the café from scratch but the bulk of it came from Belgium and France. And I thought, ‘Why isn’t anyone doing a really good French cultured butter in Australia?’ So I did.”

It wasn’t quite that simple. There was very little information available on making butter on a commercial scale. However, an AusIndustry grant in 2010, a Churchill Fellowship in 2012, and a Skype friendship with Swedish butter maker, Patrik Johansson, who supplies to Noma Restaurant, helped things along.

Naomi spent 8 weeks in Europe learning from some of the world’s best butter makers. When she returned to Myrtleford, things “fell into place”.

“We had consistency, started winning awards and got really busy. My husband, David, left his pharmacist job and became the production manager. I started managing the business.” Naomi’s mum, Bronwyn, put the proceeds of her Melbourne property into the business and moved to Myrtleford too.

They started supplying to chefs and restaurants, and opened an online shop. “We sell to everyone we can – gourmet retailers, direct consumer online sales, restaurant, food service and bakeries,” says Naomi.

7 years later and Myrtleford is a national business. In early 2016, they will open their new factory at Moyhu in the King Valley, quadrupling the size and output of their business.

“It’s another beautiful old 100-year old butter factory on 6.5 acres. Here, we’re turning 500L a day; over there, we can do 2,000L. We have the market for it but not the product,” says Naomi.

Myrtleford, soon to be called King Valley Dairy, currently produces cultured crème fraiche, buttermilk, and salted, unsalted and flavoured butters. There are also plans underway for flavoured buttermilk, apple brandy cream, almond and honey butter, whey-based protein drinks, pastry sheets, and pork and veal smallgoods.

It’s ambitious but the foundations are strong. Myrtleford has a reputation for excellence using local, sustainable and quality ingredients.

“Our cream is here 48 hours after milking and it’s butter within a day,” says Naomi. “It’s really fresh cream. We know what the local cows are eating everything is done by taste and smell and feel.”

“When the fresh cream comes in, we test the pH, smell, taste, fat content, and protein content,” says David. “Winter cream is a bit flat; this batch has less proteins. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it but spring is always the best time to make cultured dairy products.”

David keeps an eagle eye on the pH levels and temperatures inside the churn room. “It’s a balancing act,” he says. “Everything runs according to time, pH and temperature.”myrtleford butter

The warm, delicate crème fraiche is the first off the cream that morning. It is just cream and cultures – four strands of lactic acid bacteria that eat the lactose (sugars) in the cream, converting it to lactic acid. A 42% butter fat content gives the crème fraiche a light acidity and clean finish.

The cultured cream is then moved to the churner where after about 10 minutes – “just long enough for a cup of coffee” – the buttermilk is ready. David expertly funnels it directly into plastic 1L and 350ml bottles. He manages 260-280L per batch.

It’s a light and delicious buttermilk that’s “completely different” says Naomi. “It’s full of probiotics and lactic acid. It has 5-week shelf life, even with a broken seal.”

When the buttermilk is finished, David runs very cold water (1 degree) through the churner, to remove the buttermilk remnants and harden the butter.

Australian butter requires a minimum 82% of butter fat. “Producers often add water to get it closer to 100% but this changes the composition,” says Naomi. “Our butter content is 88-89%; we don’t add water.”

Myrtleford butter is a lovely sunflower yellow, thanks to the grass fed cows. “Some imported butter is white,” says Naomi. “It’s made by cows that never go outside and see daylight.”

They also produce flavoured butters – confit garlic, smoked salt, and truffle, contracting local farmers to supply all the ingredients.

“Our garlic is supplied by a local grower in King Valley. We forecast how much we’re going to sell each year and they grow a whole crop for us,” says Naomi.

David is also enthusiastic about the factory’s equipment, some of which he has salvaged and repurposed himself. A sausage press is used to make their log-shaped butter rolls. Crumpet molds shape their flavoured butters. David also developed a ghee using a 78L cooking pot from a microbrewery.

Myrtleford’s success is a testament to Naomi and David’s perseverance, creativity and love of their trade. As Kim Galea, co-owner of Pitchfork Restaurant says, “They’re constantly trying to find something different to do, to be better, the best in this field. They’re not going to stop.”


myrtleford butter II (1)

David’s tips for cooking with buttermilk

“I make pancakes for the kids and banana smoothies, and I marinate meat in it; my favourite is beef rending. At Christmas, we’ll pour 5L into a bucket and marinate a whole turkey.”



Giaconda Wine Cave

by Lilani Goonesena

Giaconda winery sits atop a granite hill in cool climate Beechworth, Victoria. Dig a little deeper into its clay and gravel soils, however, and you’ll unearth its secret weapon; a subterraneous cellar that houses all of its barrels, and underpins its winemaking philosophy.

We are privileged to have a private underground wine tasting with assistant winemaker, Nathan Kinzbrunner, on the 3rd day of the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence 2015 produce tour. We crowd around a wooden table, the stark light from bare light bulbs bouncing off the rock walls and rows and rows of dusty glass bottles: winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner’s private wine collection. We’re in good company.

The cellar is an integral part of Giaconda’s winemaking process: a climate-controlled “maturation cave” and a perfect environment for ageing and fermenting wines. There is even a mineshaft to run the juices straight from press to barrel.

“It’s a mine,” Nathan tells us as we peer down the damp, cobblestoned passage with wooden barrels stacked floor to ceiling on either side. “It was built by a mining company in 2008. It took three people 100 days, and it will be here in 100 years.”

The cave, like the wines and the winery itself, is part and parcel of Rick Kinzbrunner‘s vision. He bought the land, “just a rocky outcrop”, in 1981 and planted the first vines in 1982. Since then Giaconda has gone from strength to strength, winning both wine and winemaking awards. These days, Rick’s son Nathan shares the management and winemaking responsibilities.

“My tastes and everything are entirely influenced by my father,” Nathan explains. “It’s very much a collaboration; for half the year, I run the winery on my own while he’s away, then he returns full of ideas. The prime opportunity is to be here and learn off my dad.”

Giaconda WInes (1)

Above ground

“Our Pinot Noir is down in the valley in the richer soils; Chardonnay is on the southern slopes, and the Shiraz is up on the north-facing block,” gestures Nathan as we stand outside on the rocky hillside. There is also an “experimental” Nebbiolo in Beechworth that’s “just for fun at the moment.”

“Dad and I planted a new Nebbiolo vineyard in Beechworth,” he explains with enthusiasm. “It’s a very different terroir to here; really rich, fertile, clay soil with more elevation and moisture, and nice conditions all round. We planted four years ago and now have five barrels in the winery.”

Traditional winemaking

Giaconda is not certified organic but applies organic principles, including no filtering before bottling, the use of gravity flow, wild yeast, and wild malolactic fermentation, and no herbicides or fungicides in the vineyard. It’s natural winemaking, helped along by “less back breaking methods” including state of the art equipment from France.

Nathan shows us a vertical de-stemmer commonly used in Bordeaux. “It’s very gentle and it actually knocks the berries off the stems. It sorts the stems out one way and also sorts any rotten fruit or botrytis or underdeveloped berries. It doesn’t work so well on Nebbiolo; the skin comes away from them but it works really well with the other grapes,” he says.

The juices then run by gravity down the mineshaft and into barrels. There, they are left to undergo a full malolactic fermentation using wild yeast that occurs naturally on the skin of the grapes.

“Your primary fermentation is yeast converting sugar to ethanol, and your secondary fermentation is a bacterial one converting malolactic acid to lactic acid. From sharp acid to a full, richer, more mouth coating acid and that’s what helps add to the roundness, complexity, characters, flavours, richness, texture to the wine,” explains Nathan.

“Once the full malolactic fermentation happens, the wine has a shot of sulphur dioxide and then it’s aged in the cave for 20 months,” he tells us. “We’d never subscribe to no sulphur as a lot of our wines are cellared and aged. But we do have lower total sulphurs.”

A focused future

As we sniff and taste the Chardonnay appreciatively, Nathan is enthusiastic in its praise.

“The 2010 Chardonnay is the best wine we’ve ever made, easily,” he says enthusiastically. “Obviously you taste your own wines all the time but I get excited to drink the ‘10. There’s a lot of anticipation. We’ve set aside 30 6-packs because we like it so much.”

In the pursuit of such perfection, Giaconda has elected to stay small and focus on what they do best. As such, the 4-hectare winery produces only 2500 dozen bottles each vintage. The premium Estate Chardonnay is always capped at 1000 dozen bottles (40 barrels).

“Our passion lies for the estate, for this property, foremost,” Nathan tells us. “We’ve got to a level where we’ve given ourselves less to do. Less wines, less vineyards, less joint ventures, less distractions, with the aim of concentrating on and improving the estate wines; not having ten varieties but just a few.”

And while those wines gently rest in their barrels underground, Nathan assures us that he’s rarely far away.

“In summer, it’s 40-odd degrees outside and in the cave, it’s 16. You’re looking for work to do in there.” He’ll be in good company.

Giaconda Wine


george tomlin young chef 2014 on why he entered

George Tomlin was the Sous Chef at The Town Mouse and our Australian Young Chef 2014. Before he embarked on his prize trip of a lifetime George took the time to answer some questions about the program.

Why did you get involved in the program?

I decided to enter the program to push myself outside of my comfort zone, to meet people in the industry whether they are leaders or young people in the same position as myself. For me it was about networking and diversifying myself by putting my own creativity on the line.

What are the benefits and highlights of being involved?

Meeting people that are in the same boat as myself, young aspiring hospitality professionals who are going to be the future of this industry. I wanted to make connections that will eventually help make sure that there are people to be able to give the next generation these kind of opportunities.

Biggest lesson learnt?

I learnt so much from the program. From how to work competently under immense pressure to being involved in the produce tour in Tasmania, learning directly from the farmers themselves.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Winning the Electrolux Young Chef of the Year has definitely been a highlight for me. It was a massive indication that all the hard work I have done in my career leading up to this has been worthwhile, but also I need to keep it up to eventually be an inspiration for the younger generation of chefs.

How did the program help you get there?

Directly, it gave me this opportunity and supported me the whole way through, even afterwards.  Having programs like this keep young chefs interested and makes them realise that there is more to being a chef than just putting your head down and working really hard. You need to be well rounded, creativity and passion are two of the most important things a young chef can learn and the program inspires both.

What are you doing now?

I’m currently working as Chef de Partie at the Clove Club in London, enjoying learning in a different kitchen. For me it’s really important to diversify myself as a chef, to learn from different chefs and cultures, with the intention to bring back what I have learnt and set up a restaurant here in Australia.



where do hospitality staff go for their downtime?

See where else to eat & drink around the country:

Louise Naimo is our Young Waiter Runner Up 2015 and looks after the beer list at Estelle! Louise shares her top places for great eat & drink experiences in Melbourne.

favourite coffee shops

Wide Open Road, Brunswick.

One of my favourite spaces in Melbourne. House roasted (espresso, filter, and drip) coffee, great tunes, unpretentious service.

East Brunswick Project, East Brunswick.

Faultless coffee served in hand-spun pottery. Quintessential Melbourne space. White tiles, pale timber, polished concrete. Coffee is roasted on site.

All Press Coffee, Collingwood.

Tucked away in the industrial back streets of Collingwood, All Press is a cafe and roastery in one. Tasty coffee, warm service, and a stand out mortadella, artichoke, and mint focaccia.

favourite cafe's/eateries

A1 Bakery, Brunswick.

An institution. Cheap and salty Lebanese baked goods, bitter coffee, and a broad selection of Middle Eastern groceries.

Nhu Lan, Richmond.

Melbourne’s best bahn mi at $4.50 a pop.

Short Round, Thornbury.

Delicious seasonal breakfast eats in a sunny (hanging plant) jungle of a dining room. Hard to get into, worth the wait.

favourite restaurants

The Town Mouse, Carlton.

Effortless, charming service. Customisable dining experience. You can spend a lot, or a little, and still feel VIP.

Rockwell and Sons, Collingwood.

Tidy beer list and well-seasoned grub. The place to go if you’re looking to pair a tart Belgian lambic with a crispy plate of (the juiciest!) buttermilk chicken.

Luxembourg, St Kilda.

Simple and delicious French bistro fare. An accessible menu and knowledgeable staff. BYO Tuesdays.

favourite bars

Hell of the North, Collingwood.

Perfect for post work vino and charcuterie. Open late.

Bar Ampere, Melbourne.

For when you want a bottle of champagne and a round of toasted sandwiches at 3am.

Thomas Olive, Collingwood.

Quirky little drinking hole with banging tunes and welcoming staff. Sit at the bar if you want to be schooled by the know-it-all bartenders.

favourite interstate restaurants

10 William Street, Paddington NSW

Dark and cosy restaurant that feels like a wine bar. Simple, rustic cuisine; warm and romantic ambience.

Orana, Adelaide SA

Every dish had at least three ingredients I’ve never heard of. Highly educational dining experience. Chatty and passionate staff.

Momofuku Seiōbo, Pyrmont NSW

Bright, fresh, flavoursome and fun, the dishes speak volumes for the restaurant. Fine dining without the austerity.

Jake Kellie – eat & drink insider knowledge

See where else to eat & drink around the country:

Jake Kellie is our 2015 Young Chef of the Year and is head chef at The Lakeside Mill in Pakenham, VIC. Here Jake shares his favourite places for all things delicious!

favourite coffee shop

Market Lane Coffee

Great coffee all the time

Proud Mary

Local coffee to Collingwood when I am in the area

St Ali

You know you can trust this coffee

favourite cafes/eateries

Barry Northcote

Great local cafe and close to work.

Glover Station Elsternwick

When I am up for a little drive over the river this is where I head.

Nora Carlton

Very funky breakfast.

favourite restaurants

The Town Mouse Carlton

Always tasty!

Great place for friends and family.

Union Food and Wine Ascot Vale

Food is delicious.

favourite bars

Black Pearl Fitzroy

Good place to have a drink after work.

Thomas Olive upstairs at Saint Crispin

Good bartenders, nice whisky selection

Bar Clarine

Love my natural vino.

favourite interstate restaurants

Acme NSW

Great pasta dishes.

Sixpenny NSW

Best tasting menu going around.

Marque NSW

Love eating at Marque, always exciting new dishes.

Chris Thornton – eat & drink insider knowledge

See where else to eat & drink around the country:

Young Restaurateur of the Year 2015 and owner/head chef of Restaurant Mason, Chris Thornton takes you on a culinary tour of his favourite go-to places in his hometown of Newcastle NSW.

favourite coffee shops

Welsh Blacks

Incredible attention to detail, beautiful product, sets the bar for coffee smiths in Newcastle.

The Locomotive

Like Welsh Blacks, solely focused on coffee, specialising in single origin coffee; excellent product.

Side Pocket Expresso

Great little coffee shop just down the road from home; first proper coffee shop in Mayfield. A local favourite!

favourite cafe's/eateries

Moor Cafe

Top notch food and coffee and run by a pair of great blokes.

Asa Don

Excellent Japanese food, run by Asaku and Neil; two of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Napoli Centrale

Authentic Italian and without a doubt the best pizza outside of Italy! Alphonso had a pizza oven imported from Napoli, all the kitchen staff are specialist in pizza. Makes for a great combination.

favourite restaurants

Muse Dining

Consistent, high quality dining, never a bad meal.

EXP. Restaurant

Frank and Emma only opened it a few months back, but are already making a splash. Warm brioche, blue cheese custard, honey and marigold – Could eat this dish every day of the week!

Fortunate Son

Delicious food and excellent drinks.

favourite bars

Coal and Cedar

High end saloon, delivered a touch of class to the Newcastle bar scene.

The Koutetsu

Opened by a local veteran of the bar scene, Chris Wilson. Small, intimate and very funky.

Grain Store

Awesome selection of ever changing beers from all over.

favourite food markets and/or local grocers

Newcastle Farmers Markets

Some hidden gems and quirky producers that have helped expand my knowledge and respect for the produce they provide.

Shane’s Seafood

An old warhorse of the industry; they provide the best product and are always on the hunt for something interesting.

Swansea Butchers

Always handy to have a chefs insider knowledge when supplying premium pork and lamb.

favourite interstate restaurants

Chin Chin VIC

Relaxed yet utterly delicious.

Amuse WA

The dining experience we had there gave us inspiration on how we should run our restaurant.

Hentley farm SA

Incredible overall dining experience.

She swirls, she slurps, she serves!

by Dominic Rolfe


Leanne Altmann perched on her hotel balcony in Tournon-sur-Rhône and gazed up at the hill of Hermitage. It was 2002 and still a few months before torrential rain would turn the vintage into one of the most forgettable of recent times. But at this moment, Altmann is mid-epiphany. Not only has she just twigged that the village smells like chocolate because Valrhona (“valley of Rhône – ha!” she laughs) is just around the corner but the divinity of terroir has just swept over her. “I saw the setting sun, where it left shadows, the exact appellation of Hermitage and the idea of French wine being of a place rather than a style,” she says, “and it really hit home that it’s because of the geographic features of that region.”

Altmann’s moment of clarity did more than help spirit her to a higher vinous plane. It taught the 2008 Electrolux Young Waiter of the Year the value of going to the source, of learning by doing. “I realised how much understanding you get from looking at something like the hill of Hermitage,” she says, “You can’t learn that properly from books. It was the same with the EAFE experience in a whole restaurant sense.”

Altmann is the wine buyer responsible for the list at Andrew McConnell’s pumping Melbourne restaurant, Supernormal and his latest venture butcher and wine merchant Meatsmith. Her Twitter description reads: “She swirls! She slurps! She serves!” It’s a long way from the moment she stumbled onto the EAFE site and was gripped by a program specifically targeting waiters. “I thought ‘wow, there’s some recognition for being a waiter’,” she says. “and I know it’s a bit harder to get that recognition in the media because what we do it a bit more intangible. But to be honest some of the best dining experiences I’ve had have been created by the people serving me. It’s not just about the food for me, it’s about the atmosphere and service.”

Altmann grew up in Adelaide and finished her Level 4 Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma in wines and spirits in early 2015. She has been working in hospitality since she was 15, eventually deciding that her job as a waiter at the Hyatt Adelaide’s fine dining restaurant was more interesting than her business degree. From there she took a job at the National Wine Centre, won the 2001 Daniel Pontifex scholarship and moved to the big, bustling Adelaide restaurant, Cibo, where they made her sommelier. “They really taught me how to run a restaurant,” she says, “and gave me great guidance especially the importance of keeping a great culture at work.”

There followed a stint in the Barossa (Altmann and her partner still ship in bacon from their favourite Barossa butcher) and a job at Gordon Ramsay’s three Michelin star restaurant in Chelsea. “Working there highlighted that next step of professionalism that service allowed,” she says, “the tight culture and attention to detail in the business. It was marvellous … but my visa ran out!”

It was when she returned home, that she entered the EAFE program. “I liked the idea of the questions, how I was exploring my own personal philosophy in the industry,” she says, “and I hadn’t really expected to hear back from them.” But she did and while she admits to being nervous when chosen as one of the finalists on the produce tour. “I thought it would be really competitive,” she says, “but we had a great group and it ended up being like a school trip. The only problem was seeing blokes pulling uni (sea urchin) straight out of the ocean and having some. It’s the best I’ve ever had and I always end up comparing all other uni to those! Some of the chefs that have opened restaurants still use the suppliers they met on the tour.”

Mixing with the other applicants, visiting and listening to suppliers and being in the company of the well-respected judges took her back to that balcony in the Rhône Valley. She was learning by immersion. It also gave her a professional nudge. “The program definitely pushed more and gave me a new focus on my career,” she says, “when you have the opportunity to see how dynamic the Australian restaurant scene can be, it’s an exciting place to learn and grow as a young waiter.”

Follow Leanne on twitter @LeaAlt

green fields and ham

greta valley pork

Written by Lilani Goonesena

There’s nothing quite so endearing as a week-old piglet, and everyone wants to hold one at Greta Valley Free Range Pork farm. It’s Day Three of the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence produce tour in Victoria and we’re out in the green and muddy fields of Brian and Kim Smith’s 316-acre property. It’s cold and threatening rain, and the little piglets squirm in our arms, anxious to get back to mum and the warm, straw-lined farrowing shed.

It’s rare indoor time for these piglets and sows, which otherwise spend their entire lives outside.

“We have 80-odd animals and they live out in the paddocks all the time. These babies won’t venture out a lot now,” says Kim. But from three weeks, they’re running around everywhere.”

Several wooden, 3-sided sheds dot the paddock for each sow and her litter. The piglets are weaned at 6-7 weeks and go into the first of the grower paddocks, while the sows return to the boars for mating, and the cycle begins over.

Kim and Brian have been pig farmers at Greta Valley for five years. Though they had both raised animals, neither had had experience with pigs. Yet, their dedication to the free-range ethos has made their pig farm one of the best in the country and put their meat in high demand.

“Our buyers want 18-25 animals a week which is good for us but we don’t have the numbers,” explains Kim. “These are rare breed pigs; you can’t pull them out of thin air. It takes about 12 months to get them ready for market.”

“Our butchers want black piglets which are really juicy and tasty. We provide suckling pigs at 25kg. We did have little oven pigs for restaurants in the beginning but we had to stop; the abattoir workers found it too traumatic. The smallest they’ll do is 16kg, which produces a 12kg carcass.”

Greta Valley primarily breed Berkshires, which are known for their meat quality.

“They are slower to grow but have exceptional eating quality due to having both partition fat and intramuscular fat,” says Katy Brown of Glen Eyrie Rare Breeds Farm. Katy is an expert on heritage breed pigs in Australia and we’re fortunate to meet her at Greta Valley.

A handful of Large Whites were also picked for their temperament and meat. “They’re a wonderful pig with personality and they’re easy to handle,” explains Katy. “Maternal sows are good mothers, they put a lot of energy into growing good piglets. And they produce fantastic pork and bacon.”

Good genes and attentive mothers give Greta Valley piglets the healthiest start in life. There is no tail docking and constant access to dirt and grass reduces mortality from gut issues.

“In the spring and summer, all these paddocks fill with grass,” says Kim. “Our stocking densities are way below the standard of 15 sows per acre. We run 10 per hectare. I think that’s why we have grass year round.

“In winter, the pigs love digging up the soil and making mud.”

greta park

Our boots can attest to the thick, squelching mud as we head out to feed the pigs. They all receive specially formulated Rivalea diets.

“The piglets need to grow when they’re really young and then their diets change,” says Kim. “After weaning at 14 kg, they move onto Little Creep pellets which are high in energy and protein. Then it’s Weaner feed until 25kg when they go on a superporker, Grower diet until slaughter at 21 weeks. By then they average 68-70kg; very different to commercial pigs, which are about 120kg at market weight.”

The pigs excitedly squeal and snort as they hurry to the troughs. “They’re not hungry really; they’re greedy,” laughs Kim. “We reckon if they knocked us over, they’d just eat us too.”

Most of the gilts (female pigs) stay on the farm. At nine months, they are ready to fall pregnant. The majority are in the far paddocks where three enormous boars – CB, Arnie and Colgate – each have a harem of females.

“Usually three sows go in with the boar 4-5 days after weaning their last litter and stay until 3-4 weeks before farrowing. We scan them at 28 days and keep scanning until we find a pregnancy. Gestation is 115 days – 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.”

Khanh Nguyen a chef at Mr Wong in Sydney is very enthusiastic about the farm. “It’s a great experience, being able to see and feed them. At Mr Wong, we use free range Berkshire pigs for our char siu pork, and marinate the meat in red bean curd. Berkshires, because of the marbling, take on the red colour so it makes the pork beautifully red. It’s also fattier and juicier which is what we want.”

Louise Naimo, a waiter at Estelle Bistro in Melbourne, is also impressed with the relationship between farmer and restaurant. “I never realised how much the restaurant trade is at the forefront of people’s awareness. We use a lot of jowl at Estelle, which is a cheap cut of meat but we cook it really well. So if people start cooking that, then it’s one step closer to having the whole pig used which is great for the farmer,” she says.

Kim agrees. She would love to see the whole animal used by restaurants, creating a more sustainable farming process.


Greta valley group shot

Hot new restaurant to open in 2016

Jake Kellie, our Electrolux Australian Young Chef 2015 has joined The Lakeside Mill in Pakenham, just outside Melbourne. Due to open in mid February, Jake has been working hard over the last few months to get the kitchen team, equipment and menu ready.  It’s been a busy 12 months for Jake, being named ‘Electrolux Australian Young Chef of the year’; announced as a finalist in The Age Young chef award and one of the delicious. next generation chefs. At just 26, this will be his second head chef role and we had a chat with him about his love of hospitality and why he joined the Lakeside.

Q: What drew you to The Lakeside Mill?  What attracted me is the abundance of  local produce available in the area. From great potato and asparagus farms to beef, pig and cheese producers all on my doorstop. Having these wonderful producers allows me to highlight their produce on the menu, feeding locals and visitors. There is also a great team to work with both in the kitchen and on the floor. The role I have at the Lakeside is a great move for me. This is my second head chef role, but my first in a regional area. It’s been great to be able to have a say in the kitchen build, sourcing the plates, kitchen equipment and hiring the entire brigade of 11 chefs. There is alot more responsibility on a broader scale with a venue that is going to be open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it’s something I’m really enjoying and we are looking forward to opening next month.

Q: What does hospitality mean to you? As I’ve grown in my career, so has the meaning of hospitality. It can start out as a job, but as your passion for your career grows and grows, your determination to succeed becomes a big part of it which in turn has given me the opportunity to create my own menu for people to enjoy. Hospitality to me means giving the customer an experience of your restaurant from the first moment they walk into the dining room to the time they walk out. It’s not only about the food, it’s the ability to go above and beyond their expectations.

Q: Who is you mentor and what was one piece of advice that you still use today? Brett Graham has inspired me a lot in my career. He taught me to treat all customers as a guest in your home, seasonal cooking including how to get the maximum flavour out of your vegetables; and great cooking techniques. Probably the best piece of advice that I still use today would be to taste everything so you know that it’s right. If it’s not dont serve it.

Q: What do you think has helped you most as a chef and what advice would you give to young chefs? What has helped me is focus and determination to succeed every day. But a big part for me are the teams I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Working with great people throughout my career has really influenced me and I wouldn’t be where I am now. If there was a small piece of advice I could say to young chefs starting out, or just completing their apprenticeship, it would be stay focused listen to your mentors and work with a good team because you can’t do it all by yourself.