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South Burnett Wine and Food News with Jason Ford

South Burnett Exhibitors Do Well At Catering 2003
Steve Gudzinski and Mike Bishop29th October 2003: Five South Burnett food producers have been busy writing new business this week. All five of them (Paradise Creek Meats, Kingaroy Cheese, Wooroolin Butchery, Proteco Oils and Stuart Range Wines) exhibited their products at the 2003 Catering Trade Fair, which was held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from October 26th-28th. The Fair is Queensland's peak hospitality industry trade show and over the three days a constant stream of chefs, restaurateurs, food distributors and hospitality industry insiders stopped by our region's stand to sample quality South Burnett produce. "We made lots of good contacts with services clubs, sporting clubs and restaurants," Mike Bishop from Paradise Creek told me. "We also spoke to interested parties from Brisbane, the Gold Coast and even some internationals. I definitely expect to see some positive results in the coming weeks". Other exhibitors also reported great return from the effort - including Stuart Range, who also used the event as an opportunity to test out their new corporate image by giving passers-by a survey and questionnaire form. The data they collected at the show will be collated and used to fine-tune the new image and packaging before its official launch, which is expected to be publicly unveiled next month. About the only down side to the event was that several other regional producers who really would've benefitted from the Fair couldn't make it - either because their products weren't ready or because they couldn't spare time away from their day business. I think there's a big opportunity here for someone to operate a combined exhibit for these latter types of producers at the 2004 show. Email me if you're interested in this idea. Photo at right: Chef Steve Gudzinski and Mike Bishop of Paradise Creek Beef promoting their range of new products at the Catering 2003 Trade Fair.
South Burnett Wine & Food Dinner Sunday 9th November
26th October 2003: If you're interested in really enjoying South Burnett wine and food - and have missed the annual Vintage Dinner that used to be held at Kingaroy Town Hall - you'll be as excited as I am to hear that it's on again! Last Thursday night at the South Burnett Wine Industry Association's Annual General Meeting, Maryanne Pidcock from Captain's Paddock announced that the 2003 dinner is going to be held at the Lil Ol Church Restaurant in Wooroolin on Sunday night, 9th November (yes, you read that right: Sunday night. And not much more than 2 weeks away). Peter Mansfield from Winetac and well-known foodie Peter Howard will be special guest speakers and buses will be running from both Murgon and Kingaroy to ferry passengers safely to and from the gala evening. Tickets for a slap-up three course dinner are $55 per head and are strictly limited to 100. About since about 20 of them were sold within 5 minutes of last night's announcement, you'll need to book and pay for your own ASAP if you want to avoid missing out. More details? Phone Maryanne or Peter at Captain's Paddock on (07) 4162 4534 or send them an email.
Region Gets A New Wine Label
Vaughn Prasser and Vaughn's Vineyard23rd October 2003: Not many people remember now that the South Burnett's wine industry was pioneered by just two men: former Kingaroy Shire Economic Development Manager Vaughn Prasser and former SBLGA Economic Development Officer Geoff Milgate. Their hands-on research in the early 1990s led to the first full-scale commercial plantings of grapes in Kingaroy and Moffatdale in 1995, founding the South Burnett's burgeoning wine industry as we know it today. While both men are currently working outside the area on other projects I'm pleased to report that at least one of them now has his own South Burnett vineyard and has just launched the region's newest wine label. Vaughn's Vineyard - located between stonefruit orchards in Kumbia, 510 metres above sea level - has just released a limited edition 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon made from some of the oldest plantings in the area. Cabernet sauvignon grapes are ideally suited to Kumbia's red soil and micro-climate. They're a late-harvest grape and usually aren't picked until after the first week in March. The 2002 Vaughn's Vineyard release is wholly made from Kumbia cabernet sauvignon grapes which were picked by hand in the cool of the morning and placed straight into an on-site cool room. The vintage was then produced by Stuart Range Estates' master winemaker Ross Whiteford and carefully aged in French and American oak for a year before release. The wine is currently being distributed through Kingaroy's Carrollee Hotel, where it retails for $13.99 per bottle. Photo: Vaughn's Vineyard at Kumbia and (inset) South Burnett wine pioneer Vaughn Prasser.
New Organic Pork Products from Murgon
20th October 2003: As I've written in the past, the South Burnett has enthusiastically embraced the rapidly growing niche market of organic produce. One of the region's latest players is GABS and Bacon, an organic farm just outside Murgon (GABS stands for "Gourmet Australian Bush Sausages", BTW). Owners Wil and Megan Seiler specialise in organic free-range pork products. GABS and Bacon's products contain pure fresh pork with a combination of Australian bush herbs like lemon myrtle and dorrigo pepper, along with traditional spices. Their products are also virtually fat free - just a small amount to be able to cook them. GABS' bacon and ham is traditionally double smoked and very tasty. Wil and Megan also provide pork cuts and organic grass-fed beef in bulk buys. The couple have been selling their GABS products at farmers markets in Noosa, Pomona and Nanango where they're proving to be very popular. Brett Steele of Steele's Butchery in Murgon is also about to supply their organic pork products. The company will have a web site soon too, and we'll provide a link in this story when it becomes available. Photo: Organic pork production represents a return to traditional methods of pig farming. It's much more labour-intensive than mechanised methods, but GABS and Bacon's customers swear it produces a tastier end-product.
South Burnett Female Foodies Showcased In Brisbane
Rae and Bruce Hurley17th October 2003: On Wednesday 15th October the Queensland Department of Primary Industries put on a special trade show at Brisbane's Carlton Crest Hotel. It was called "Enterprising Women in Rural Industries" and its purpose was to showcase 25 established food, fibre and agritourism businesses owned and operated by Queensland women. I'm very pleased to report that the South Burnett had 6 women there - almost 25% of the display space! Our representatives were Rae Hurley from The Left Bank B&B and Cafe at Kilkivan (who's now expanded the business into South Burnett Hampers and will soon be opening a web site for it); Georgie Somerset from Durong Country Beef, which now runs an online beef cookery club through their own web site; Di Elliott from Essdale Park Lavender Farm at Kilkivan (who make all sorts of lavender products including lavender tea, honey and chocolates with more on the way); Pam Comello from Ivyholme Organic Dairy in Kingaroy; Carolyn Stone from Passchendaele Farm at Burrandowan, who'll be adding a bit of winemaking to her offerings in the foreseeable future; and Tia Mammino from Mammino Gourmet Ice-Creams at Childers, who source many of their ingredients from the South Burnett and will be launching their Zie Granny Patch peanut and grape ice-cream next February as soon as they can get adequate supplies of South Burnett grapes. Reaction to the trade show was very positive and each one of our representatives raised not only the profile of their own businesses, but also the profile of our region. Sadly Carolyn Stone had to spend the night in Brisbane Hospital after catching a bout of gastric during the day (it's sweeping Brisbane, I'm told). And ironically, Rae Hurley won the lucky door prize: a free night's accommodation at the Carlton Crest. Photo: Rae and Bruce Hurley at the 2003 Fraser Coast South Burnett Tourism Awards, where they took top honours in the Unique Accommodation category.
Local Winemaker Profiled In Latest Grapegrower & Winemaker Magazine
The Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker - October 2003 issue14th October 2003: More national publicity for the South Burnett! Barambah Ridge winemaker Stuart Pierce has just been profiled in the latest monthly edition (ie October 2003) of The Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker magazine - the bible of the industry. In the article, Stuart makes the surprising confession that he harbours a lifelong passion for boutique beers; tells the world that he has a pet dog who occasionally follows him around the vineyards; and admits that he's frustrated with people who seem to believe that Queensland is incapable of producing world-class wines (even though the State is steadily racking up national and international awards that prove otherwise) - particularly in the restaurant trade. The cover of this month's edition (see picture at right) also captures Barambah Ridge's Paul Brunjes planting Chambourcin vines outside the company's Maryborough cellar door. Stuart's interview is quite a tribute when you consider that the eminent 40-year-old publication only profiles a dozen winemakers a year. It's also an acknowledgement that the South Burnett is being seen on the national stage as a serious wine region with talented winemakers. You can read the full text of Stuart's profile in Adobe PDF format by clicking here (56K PDF) [PS: Don't forget that Barambah Ridge will be playing host to the 2003 Shakin Grape Wine Festival this coming Saturday, 18th October. You can get the full Festival programme by clicking here].
Team South Burnett Gets Plaudits At Australian Cook-Off
Jason Ford and Ian Parmenter10th October 2003: Last night (along with hundreds of other people) I attended the Lifestyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Adelaide. The event attracted just about everyone involved in the 10-day Tasting Australia Festival including almost every famous celebrity chef in the country. Unfortunately the South Burnett didn't take home a medal this time around - there were only 7 of them - but our stature as an emerging (and exciting!) wine and food region is now deeply embedded into the minds of the nation's culinary elite. Competition veterans Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley and Western District South West Coast Victoria all went home with the 2003 accolades. I thought this was well deserved, since they'd all been competing in the event for the last eight years. Ironically, though, we out-scored Hunter Valley (last year's gold medal winners) on our first attempt and also Team Brisbane - and in some ways I think that's a victory in itself. Event organisers and judges congratulated Team South Burnett on our effort. We also got a big "thankyou!" from the European wine judge for introducing him to Crane Wine's Late Harvest Frontignac. During the awards night TSB met and mingled with the likes of Maggie Beer (whom I presented with a bottle of Captains Paddock Verjuice), Stephanie Alexander, Rick Stein, Neil Perry, Ian Parmenter, Maeve O'Meara, Gabriel Gates, Philip Johnson and Peter Howard (just to mention a few!). We also heard that during the competition, footage of TSB was beamed to no less than 1.2 million pay-TV subscribers (which isn't bad publicity for the South Burnett at all). I also conducted live telephone interviews with three radio stations, Win TV news and was interviewed by several notable publications. Photo above: Cheers to the South Burnett from Tasting Australia Festival President Ian Parmenter, who's asked us to come back and compete at the next Tasting Australia Festival in 2005.
We Meet A Famous Foodie!
Gabriel Gate and Jason Ford9th October 2003: I got a grasp of just how huge the Tasting Australia Festival is this morning. While we were having breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Adelaide, Team South Burnett found itself sharing a coffee with none other than Gabriel Gate (pictured at right). As most people probably know, Gabriel Gate is a cookbook writer with an international reputation. His 18 cookbooks have sold over 1 million copies in Australia alone (and his latest is "Gabriel Gates Guide to Everyday Cooking", published by Allen & Unwin, if you want to get a copy). He also has a weekly segment on Channel 10's Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton. Gabriel shared some stories of his experiences as a chef and his involvement in culinary competitions. He also gave Adrian Hauritz (our apprentice chef) some much-valued advice on gaining experience by travelling. I would expect that the remainder of our time at the Tasting Australia Festival will involve a few other close encounters with celebrity chefs, who are really thick on the ground as tension builds for the announcement of the cook-off winners. Later on in the morning we met the Greater Western Sydney Team (also first timers in the competition) and it was a great opportunity to get another team's perspective on the event. Then we visited the competition venue at the Regency International Centre for Hospitality, Leisure and Food Studies. The team was taken on an orientation of the facility and caught a seek peek of the reigning champions Team Hunter Valley's competition food. The ultimate 2003 winners will be announced tonight.
Team South Burnett Hits The Barossa Wine Trail
Maggie Beer and Jason Ford8th October 2003: No true foodie can visit South Australia without making tracks to the Barossa. So today Team South Burnett did exactly that - and it was the first time for all of us. This part of Australia has literally hundreds of cellar doors and unfortunately there are only so many you can visit in one day (and only so much wine you can fit in the back of a rental car!). But we did manage to squeeze in visits to Jacobs Creek, Saltrams, Jenki, Chateau Barossa, Miranda and Seppelt. We stopped for lunch at the iconic Maggie Beer's Farm Shop - most notable for her verjuice and pheasant farm. And we also visited the newly opened Barossa Cheeses and found it not unlike Kingaroy's award-winning cheese factory. Visiting the Barossa region gives you a sense of where the South Burnett region is heading. We could all visualise the expansive valleys and rolling hills of areas like Booie, Wondai, Nanango and Murgon terraced with the rows of vineyards as far as the eye can see. And considering the explosive growth of the South Burnett's wine industry over the last ten years, I think it's reasonable to foresee our region becoming the next Barossa over the coming decade. Towards sundown we made our way back to Adelaide with full stomachs, empty wallets and the clanging of wine bottles in the car boot - but we managed to round things off with an exquisite dinning experience at the Adelaide Hilton's Grange Restaurant where head chef Cheong Leiw is regarded as the founder and leading exponent of Asian-Western fusion cuisine (and in chef's circles is considered a culinary God). What an incredible day! Photo above: Ironically, I ran into Maggie Beer in the evening at The Grange Restaurant and had a chat to her about the South Burnett region.
Team South Burnett Competes In Adelaide!
Team South Burnett outside the competition venue7th October 2003: After 18 months of planning, Team South Burnett was finally put through its paces this morning (Tuesday October 7th). We hit the competition arena around 10:00am and prepared a three-course meal for the panel of 10 judges. I'm writing this on Tuesday afternoon and now that it's over, I can tell you that the whole team is feeling vastly relieved and quietly confident at the same time. All the team members performed professionally in their roles and - much to my relief - there were no mishaps! Although the results won't be revealed until Thursday night's LifeStyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition awards night at the Hyatt Regency Adelaide, initial judges comments were very encouraging. We received particularly positive comments at our debriefing about our teamwork ability, our dessert and its match with Crane Wines' late harvest Frontignac and the outstanding performance of our apprentice Adrian (AJ) Hauritz. Our table setting which featured locally-made Mud Gear Australia red mud-dyed linen serviettes was also a major talking point with spectators and judges alike. Footage of Team South Burnett's entry can be viewed Wednesday 8th October on the Lifestyle Channel (Austar and Foxtel). Tomorrow the team will be visiting the Barossa region and having their fair share of South Australia's vintages - it's certainly well deserved! Photo above: Team South Burnett de-stress outside the Adelaide competition venue after this morning's judging.
Team South Burnett Arrives In Adelaide
Team South Burnett at the Adelaide Central Markets6th October 2003: Today I'm doing something completely different on our web site: filing the first of a series of live daily reports from the Australian Regional Culinary Competition in Adelaide. After eighteen months of hard work by Team South Burnett and the generous support of our sponsors, our quest for culinary gold has finally come to a head. We hope to keep all our readers and supporters updated on our progress on a daily basis from now right through to the end of the week. TSB touched down in Adelaide at around 10:30am local time on Sunday (approximately 11:00am South Burnett time) and the first thing we found was that the weather here is a little cooler than home - around the low twenties and pretty brisk in the evenings. The hotel we're staying at is located right in the middle of a fantastic restaurant precinct and we intend to take advantage of it while we're here. The team chowed down on Italian cuisine for lunch and ate at a trendy Indian restaurant for dinner where we had great food and brilliant service to match. The choice and quality of wines in Adelaide is quite phenomenal and an indicator of where our own region should head in the future. We spent most of the rest of the day orienting ourselves for our five-day stay, finding the competition venue and finalising our competition strategy. We plan to make the most of our time here and after competing on Tuesday 7th we'll be travelling out to the Barossa Valley for a look at the wineries. Then on Thursday we'll be visiting the Adelaide Central Markets - probably the most active fresh produce markets in the country (that'll be an early morning!). We also hope to be able to visit the National Wine Centre of Australia and the Haigh's chocolate factory, both South Australian icons. Stay tuned for more! Photo above: A seriously jet-lagged Team South Burnett outside the Adelaide Central Markets, admiring the giant Tasting Australia banner. Arriving in Adelaide mid-morning meant a 3am departure from our home in sunny Queensland.
Burning Beats Cafe Celebrates First Birthday
5th October 2003: Over the last year I've written several stories about Kingaroy's Burning Beats Cafe, the courageous little business that brought spicy Asian and Indian food and outdoor dining to our region. Burning Beats aggressively challenged several long-held assumptions in the South Burnett's hospitality industry (eg: that restaurant fare should be limited to variations of meat and three vegetables and that dining should be restricted to two-hour lunch and dinner periods) and some people told me they didn't think the Cafe was long for this world when it opened. But I'm glad to report that they were wrong. Burning Beats celebrated its first birthday yesterday and the business is going from strength to strength. Over the last 12 months it's expanded into an additional rear courtyard dining area (soon to be covered courtyard, once the necessary building approvals pass through Kingaroy Shire Council) and a mini-delicatessen for hard-to-get south east Asian cooking essentials; funded a fortnight's cooking research trip to Thailand for owners Paul Stoddart and Kerry Cotter in mid-winter; and seen the introduction of "Blues In The Backyard" music afternoons roughly every 6 to 8 weeks. And if you dine at the Cafe this coming week (it's open Wednesdays to Saturdays) you'll be given a free glass of sparkling shiraz to help celebrate a year of almost non-stop growth. What I particularly like about Burning Beats - apart from the fantastic food - is that it's shown that playing to the safe "middle ground" in the region's restaurant trade may no longer be as smart as it looks. Simply doing what everyone else does ignores the needs of such large numbers of people that virtually anyone who comes up with something outside the circle - and who does it well - is guaranteed to get a successful business out of it. Happy birthday, Beats! Keep it up!
South Burnett Times Releases "Favourite Recipes"
Favourite Recipes2nd October 2003: The South Burnett region is a smorgasbord of culinary diversity and we're steadily building up a cuisine and service style to satisfy virtually all tastes and budgets - whether it's a quick snack, a family meal or a fine dining experience. The South Burnett Times has recognised this and tomorrow (3rd October) they'll be releasing a cookbook of favourite recipes from our region as a supplement to their regular Friday edition. "Favourite Recipes" is a 16-page full colour insert that showcases the wide range of local businesses dedicated to providing South Burnett residents and tourists with so much gastronomic choice and variety these days. And I'm sure that anybody flicking through the pages of this publication will quickly agree that the South Burnett food industry has taken some great steps forward in the last couple of years! Recipes featured in the publication come from such diverse sources as Rhapsody Fine Foods, Sameway Milk, the Bell Tower Restaurant, Swickers Quality Meats, the Burning Beats Cafe, South Burnett Cookery School instructor Karen Ford and Captains Paddock. There are also recipes from each member of Team South Burnett. This coming Sunday when we fly down to Adelaide to compete in the regional cook-offs we'll be taking some copies with us (courtesy of the Times, who are printing an extra run-on) to pass around. You can get your own copy at any South Burnett newsagency tomorrow.

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