Country Style

Alla Wolf-Tasker, the celebrated founder of Daylesford’s Lake House, shows how to make the most of autumn’s finest produce.
Words – Virginia Imhoff

May is a season of plenty in central Victoria when late autumns harvests are gloriously abundant and varied. “It’s when we harvest everything before the first frosts,” says Alla Wolf-Tasker, the owner and Executive Chef of the famed Lake House in Daylesford. “The last of the tomatoes and zucchinis are still coming in, there’s eggplants and masses of herbs. And May is the special time for foraging for forest mushrooms and harvesting quinces, too.”

While Lake House’s modern Australian cuisine has its roots in classic French technique, Alla is committed to seasonal locally produced delicacies, much of it coming under the banner of the Daylesford Macedon Produce Group.

For Country Style, Alla has chosen simple dishes that she might cook at home, and which could influence a more complex dish on the restaurant menu. ‘The food I cook at home informs what happens in the restaurant dishes,” she says. “Soft white polenta with mushroom ragout is a basic dish, real comfort food, and then we extended that as a restaurant dish. And the lamb with ratatouille is about using the whole abundance of what is coming out of the gardens at this time of year.”

Daylesford is where Alla spent her childhood holidays and where, thanks to her Russian parents, she developed her deep appreciation of beautiful dishes made with fresh seasonal produce. In 1984 she returned with her artist husband, filled with dreams of a fine dining country restaurant – and the region, its produce and diners are reaping the rewards.

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