South Burnett Cuisine > News Archives > December 2003
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South Burnett Wine and Food News with Jason Ford

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers!
22nd December 2003: With Christmas just three sleeps away I'm writing my last column for 2003 today. This seems a good time to look back (briefly) over what's been a truly phenomenal year for our region's wine and food industries. As far as food goes, the South Burnett really began to get some attention during the last 12 months. Our locally-made cheeses took out golds at a string of shows; pork boomed; organic and semi-organic growers made a mark on local and capital city markets; and our best restaurants began drawing praise for a job well done. And as far as wine goes, this year saw the South Burnett become the biggest grape crush area in the State; saw our winemakers battle well above their weight to walk away with stacks of medals at major shows; and saw - or will see, once they can secure the builders - our cellar door numbers expand by 25%. We also brought the South Burnett to the notice of the nation when we competed in the Australian Culinary Cook-Offs in Adelaide and beat the Hunter Valley team (previous gold medalists) by a healthy margin. In addition - thanks to my friends at the South Burnett Adviser and Crow-FM - developments in regional wines and foods began to get regular local press and radio coverage too. Best idea of the year that never went anywhere? (but should): the South Burnett Wine Appreciation Society, which sadly came to nothing when there was a change of management at the Bell Tower. Best effort? The South Burnett Wine Industry Association, who've been developing a new logo for the region (I've seen it) . This should begin to appear next year and it will make us all very proud when it does. I'll be back in mid-January to do it all over again for 2004. In the meantime, thankyou for sharing my interest in South Burnett wines and foods - and have a great Christmas!
South Burnett Farewells A Culinary Icon
Steve Winter and Frans Staats19th December 2003: Last Thursday night - along with many other people - I went to Nanango's Copper Country Restaurant to farewell former owner and local culinary legend Steve Winter. Steve recently sold his restaurant, motel and vineyard to former international hotelier Frans Staats and will be moving to Brisbane for awhile to renovate houses and take a well-deserved break from the kitchen. Steve's contribution to the South Burnett's wine and food industries is unparalleled and not widely recognised - but if you've ever been to a Wine & Food In The Park Festival; a Wine Industry Vintage Dinner; the Warbirds, Wheels & Wine Air Show or enjoyed a slice of Kingaroy Cheese, it's worth reflecting that Steve either started these events and/or played a fundamental role in their foundation. Steve's Copper Country Restaurant was recently recognised as one of the three best restaurants in the region by the Good Life Restaurant Guide (see story 10th December 2003) and he's been an indefatigable supporter of local charities and community activities throughout his long stewardship of the Copper Country complex. Happily, new owner Frans says that he wants to retain all the best features of Copper Country but has plans to build on Steve's legacy over the next few years. Frans told me that he and his wife looked at more than 25 motels before falling in love with Copper Country ("at first sight!" he said) and he shares Steve's strong belief that our region is an emerging wine and food destination with a big future ahead of it. Photo: Steve Winter (left) and Frans Staats (right) at last week's farewell.
Wanted: Two Apprentice Chefs To Take On Australia's Best!
Jason Ford interviewed on WIN-TV16th December 2003: Move over Australian Idol - a new search is on for a team of chefs to compete at the 2005 LifeStyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition. One of the objectives for the 2005 team is to have two apprentice chefs as part of our culinary quartet. With a little under two years of planning ahead, it's quite plausible that young people who have absolutely no experience in commercial cookery could be trained and ready to match-up against Australia's finest chefs in the nation's most prestigious culinary competition. The only criteria required are a passion for food and the dedication to work and train as a qualified chef in the South Burnett region. The decision to take two apprentices came from the outstanding effort made by the 2003 team's only apprentice - 19-year-old Adrian Hauritz - who was a strong contender for the accolade of "Best Apprentice" at this year's competition. I think the South Burnett is a treasure trove of great culinary talent that simply needs to be discovered. So I'm calling on any locals who think they'd be interested in an exciting career in cookery to get in contact with me via email or by phoning me on (07) 4160 4428. Who knows? You may be the next Jamie Oliver. Photo: WIN TV News reporting on the Team South Burnett's search for budding young chefs.
New Sunday Grape To Glass Tours At Barambah Ridge
Barambah Ridge13th December 2003: If you'd like to improve your knowledge of wine and have a great Sunday out, Barambah Ridge's newly-introduced Grape To Glass tours - which are now running every Sunday at their Redgate winery - may be just the ticket. The tour begins at 10:00am on Sunday morning with a stroll through the Ridge's vineyards where you can learn about the "vintage cycle" and identify the qualities of the various grape varieties. This is followed by an inspection tour of the winery to see how wine is actually made, and then a wine tasting and wine appreciation session where you'll learn about the 20-point wine judging process; be able to bone up on wine appreciation techniques from experienced wine industry staff; and then be given the opportunity to taste and judge Barambah Ridge's own multi-award winning wines. After this, the tour concludes with a great lunch at Barambah Ridge's cellar door; a complimentary glass of their wine (if you can fit in any more!) and live entertainment by the Ridge's resident saxophonist Tom McKenzie. The Grape To Glass tour is modelled on a similar one run by the famous Poet's Corner winery in Mudgee that I went on myself last year, and at $35 per head it's not only genuinely educational - it's also great value. For catering purposes, Barambah Ridge would prefer it if you booked your place by 5:00pm on Saturdays. You can do it by phoning them on (07) 4168-4766.
South Burnett Restaurants Featured In 2004 Good Life Restaurant Guide
Good Life 2004 Restaurant Guide10th December 2003: I can't contain my excitement! Just when I thought the South Burnett's food and wine scene had clocked up every milestone they possibly could this year, another one's just landed on my desk. The Courier-Mail's Good Life Restaurant Guide 2004 was released today and this year - for the first time ever in a guide of this calibre - it contains a South Burnett section. Three local restaurants are listed and reviewed: Kingaroy's Burning Beats Café, Booie Range Distillery's Bell Tower Restaurant and Nanango's Copper Country Restaurant. To top off this achievement, the Bell Tower Restaurant has been awarded a red star for its excellence in the Queensland food service industry: one of only 21 regional restaurants in the State to get this mark of distinction. As you might expect, most of the top-flight restaurants that are reviewed in the 2004 edition are in Brisbane, Noosa, Port Douglas, Cairns and the Gold Coast. So getting three of our own eateries into such elite company is no mean feat! Each restaurant should be justifiably proud of their accomplishment. The Courier-Mail Good Life Restaurant Guide 2004 is on sale from today for $12.95 in selected newsagencies and through Mary Ryan's and Borders book stores. You can also order copies at Queensland Newspapers' office at 41 Campbell Street in Bowen Hills, or by filling in and mailing their downloadable order form (Adobe PDF format) with your cheque.
Thai Cookery Class A Big Hit - Another Coming Soon!
7th December 2003: Last Tuesday night Kingaroy TAFE held an introductory Thai cookery class. Paul Stoddart, the chef and owner of Kingaroy's Burning Beats Café, was on hand as guest chef and he assisted me in demonstrating the basic fundamentals of Thai cuisine. I think that a course like this is a first for our region and I was honestly amazed at the response we received from our ad in last Friday's South Burnett Times.The phones at TAFE rang off the hook and we had over two dozen locals sign up to join the short course in less than 48 hours. Originally the Thai cooking course was going to be a one-night-only affair held before the Christmas holidays. But interest has been so strong that Paul and I are going to run another Thai cookery course on Tuesday 16th December for those who were disappointed to miss out. The folks from the first course left the college grinning from ear-to-ear thanks to Paul's recipes and stories about his recent trip to Thailand. Some of the recipes that were demonstrated to attendees included Tom Yam Goong (Sour and Hot King Prawn Soup), Yam Neua (Rare Beef and Noodle Salad), Gaeng Phed Wan Gai (Red chicken Curry) and Khao Neuw Dam Piak (Black Sticky Rice). How much our tastes have changed! If anybody would like to suggest any other cuisine that interests them and could make a great short course just email me or call on (07) 4160-4428. Otherwise - book early!
South Burnett Takes 50% Of Gold Medals At Queensland Wine Awards
4th December 2003: The South Burnett wine industry should be feeling pretty proud of itself this week. After turning in an outstanding performance at the Australian Small Winemakers Show in early November (see story 7th November), they capped it off with an even better performance at the Courier Mail Sheraton Queensland Wine Awards. Although the region only accounted for 15.9% of the total entries, when the 2003 winners were announced last Monday night we walked away with 20.5% of the medals. This includes 23.2% of all bronze medals and a whopping 50% of the golds. Barambah Ridge won two gold medals for their 2003 Verdelho (which took out double golds) and Crane Winery received yet another gold medal and trophy for their Late Harvest Frontignac (I've lost track of how many medals and trophies this particular wine has won this year). Other top local performers included Bridgeman Downs (1 bronze); Clovely Estates (7 bronzes); Crane Winery (1 bronze) and Dusty Hill (1 bronze). The 2003 results are also up on 2002 where our winemakers accounted 14.7% of the entries and took 14.9% of the medals. You can obtain a complete list of the 2003 Queensland Wine Awards results - along with the points awarded to each entry - by clicking here (47K PDF - data courtesy of the Courier Mail)
Stuart Range Unveil New Brand, New Image
Stuart Range Wines1st December 2003: Stuart Range - until now, you'd know them better as Stuart Range Estates - took the wrappings off their new brand today after 6 months of closed-door discussions with designers and shareholders. As part of the brand change the company will be dropping the word "Estates" from its title (it doesn't actually own any vineyards) and will be gradually eliminating the thin gold "SR" logo that most people are familiar with in exchange for the new logo shown above. The new logo has been designed to simultaneously represent the red soils of Kingaroy - where nearly all the company's grapes are sourced - and the individual thumbprint of a winemaker. Stuart Range expect the complete changeover is likely to take as long as 6 months. It will involve everything from stationery and road signage, posters and promotional material through to boxes, labels, the firm's domain name and web site. To celebrate the logo launch Stuart Range also released several of their new season wines today in bold new "Top Drop" labels which are quite a change from the company's traditional packaging. The new wines show the hand of master winemaker Ross Whiteford at work too. They're quite different to anything the company's produced before and I'll have more to say about them in future stories. In the meantime - if you're looking for some Christmas wine specials - take a look at Stuart Range's existing web site tomorrow afternoon. This Christmas they're launching 3 hamper packs (at $99, $140 and $160) that are very good value indeed. You can get more details there.

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