The Alla Wolf-Tasker Good Food Matters Scholarship Fund
A not for profit organisation founded by Lake House Culinary Director Alla Wolf-Tasker AM. The brief includes tackling issues of access and sustainability, the increase in understanding of good food and its social and nutritional value, the support and development of best practices and excellence in growing, production and preparation through education, debate, research, innovation and lobbying.
The Alla Wolf Tasker #GoodFoodMatters delicious Produce Awards Scholarship Winner 2018
Albeit a very difficult decision in a field of outstanding applicants, I have awarded the scholarship to Beth and Hayden Mc Millan of Burrawong Gaian Poultry in NSW.
The scholarship will go towards a research trip to explore the potential for creating a commercial market in Australia for Moulard ducks – the backbone of gastronomic tradition in Gascony France.
Anyone who has enjoyed a proper Gascon duck dish based on that strutting oversize cross of a Pekin and a Muscovy will understand the impetus behind this venture. The meat to bone ratio is excellent and the flavor unmatched.
The notion of a new commercial line of table bird for Australia (and this one in particular) is an exciting prospect for chefs, cooks and diners. If anyone can make a success of this venture Burrawong Gaian with their fully vertically integrated pasture raised poultry farm and continued excellence of existing product, Beth & Hayden can.
Scholarship Winner 2017 as part of the delicious Produce Awards
Michael and Cressida McNamara, Pecora Dairy, Southern Highlands NSW
Already makers of great cheese and following best practice animal husbandry with their dairy ewes and regenerative farming, Michael and Cressida are now looking to produce some raw milk cheeses.
I'd like to hope that with the assistance of this scholarship, awarded as part of the delicious Produce Awards, study of affinage in France will become possible for these hard working producers. In due course they might be well on the way to producing an iconic Australian benchmark semi hard raw milk cheese in the style of Ossau Iraty perhaps; that I'd be very happy to serve at Lake House.
Michael and Cressida are a great example of the kind of producers showing potential for really advancing Australia's sustainable best practice food industry; in this case in the arena of cheesemaking.
I wish them all the very best.
A Little Background
My own four decades long journey in the food and hospitality industry has taken me from the determined optimism and ambitions of a starry eyed young cook to the roles of chef, restaurateur and hotelier and the seasoned determination of a long term industry player. My ambitions nowadays lie in the potential for the development of a true food culture in Australia where Good Food and its myriad benefits are placed on the pedestal they deserve...
My love for great produce, the pleasures of seasonal anticipation and the joys of cooking were originally instilled in me as part of our daily family life by both parents. These were further honed very early in my career, through my experiences in the great country restaurants of France. There, chef/farmer relationships were common and often spanned several generations
Setting up Lake House – a regional destination restaurant in Australia in the early eighties – flew in the face of established expectations and practices here. Seasonality and an interest in provenance were also not on the radar. We were surrounded by Big Agricultural enterprises growing commodity crops and systems that supported the established practices of food globalization.
The ensuing three decades for me have very much been about developing a local food culture within our immediate area, but also seeking out the best producers from all over Australia and wherever possible, shining a light on their endeavours.
Along the way I have discovered and become convinced of the potential triple bottom line (social, environmental and economic) outcome of best practice good food, sourced with care and as locally as possible. I confidently now add good health as a fourth outcome to that bottom line as well.
But also alongside potential great outcomes are many issues. Some are around planning, onerous regulations and often a general lack of support for small scale artisan growers and producers intent on creating benchmark products. The skills shortage crisis faced by restaurateurs is a familiar refrain amongst colleagues. We also live in a community saturated with fast and cheap food messaging and generally confused by conflicting ‘expert’ advice around good food. So much so, that the prioritization of Good Food as the essential and critically needed main element of family expenditure gets little traction. A lack of real tradition in food and limited intergenerational handover of food knowledge that is so often the driver of a nation’s food culture creates considerable gaps in essential understanding.
Issues around good food – its accessibility, transparency in provenance, the education of successive generations in understanding the critical nature of good food and the joys of cooking with it , the need to maintain the skills and craft around it and to celebrate our best farmers and producers – these are rarely seen as being of vote gaining importance.
But the outcomes around them have the power to change the state of our well-being and the political, social, economic and environmental conditions of the world we inhabit.
It is this arena that the Alla Wolf-Tasker Good Food Matters Foundation operates and hopes to make a difference in.
Alla Wolf-Tasker AM