Rob Report Magazine

Fresh From OZ

After studying in France to be a chef, Alla Wolf Takser returned to her native Australia, determined to create a Michelin-quality country restaurant that embraced the bounty of flavours of the region around Daylesford, Victoria, the tiny community where she spent her summers a child. \"I wanted to serve tomato\'s that were in season, locally caught fish, ducks that came from down the road\" she recalls \"I wanted to create a sense of place\"

Wolf Tasker soon learned that some of the goals are hard won. At the, Australian Cuisine remained in the cold, flavourless grip culinary tradition and its own bland agrarian monoculture. \"It hadn\'t occurred to me that there was a disconnect between what I what and what the market understood,\" she says with a laugh. \"I just wanted to do what I wanted to do.\"

Now, some 30 years later, Wolf Tasker is one of Australia\'s most respected gourmet chefs. Together with her husband Allan, and their daughter Larissa, she runs Lake House, a small hotel, restaurant and spa that caters primarily to the gourmets from nearby Melbourne. Her menu changes vividly, with Southern Australian seasons and features primarily the catch and the harvest of the region.

\"Welcome to our winter tables\" she writes in the menu, greeting her guests to dinner. \"Pumpkins, beetroot, celeriac, black cabbage, kohlrabi, and a myriad of varieties of local potatoes and coming through our door.\" In a large kitchen obscured behind the main dining rooms bar, Wolf Tasker, Head Chef David Green and the restaurant staff transform this bounty each day into an abundant breakfast buffet, a hearty lunch, and a memorable dinner that showcases the best of what Victoria - and these gifted chefs have to offer. Guests might select an entrée of smoked skipton eel, wrapped in pancetta, shallot confit, beetroot remoulade and fresh horseradish. A nod to her Russian immigrant parents, Wolf Tasker also offers blinchiki (tiny crepes filled with wild mushrooms and goat\'s cheese) and borscht, one of several vegetarian options. Her main courses feature locally raised beef (served with pickled walnuts, corned silverside and a delicious peppered house made sausage), duck, crisped pork bellies, with cider based trotter sauce and hot apple, and finally, roasted spa venison served with a chocolate chilli jus. These and other dishes at Lake House are cooked and served in a setting that is warm, welcoming, and decidedly unpretentious.
Since the 1970\'s Australian cuisine has undergone an epic transformation, thanks, in part, to visionary chefs like Wolf Tasker, who recognized the country homegrown potential. \"Originally, local chefs and diners thought that we were behind other food cultures in the world.\" She observes. \"But in a way it has been better for Australia to emerge slowly. We have been a bit freer to develop our own style and our own sense of place.

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