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Australia's Culinary Revolution: Paddock-to-Plate Transforms Dining Experience


On menus across Australia, you’ll find the providence or producers of ingredients listed next to dishes: mixed leaves from Newcastle Greens at Kitchen By Mike in Sydney, Maremma duck at Aria in Sydney, and at Brae in Birregurra, Victoria, organic produce from its own farm. The prevalence of this trend – and the fact diners care about it – is down to the influence of the paddock-to-plate movement, which prioritises food that has been locally sourced, is seasonal, and has a production process that is traceable.

“I was introduced to the concept of paddock to a plate while working as an apprentice at Eschalot restaurant in Berrima,” says Tom Gorringe, Aria’s head chef. “We used as many local farmers and producers as we could, which meant stopping off at a few farms on the way in to work each day to grab milk and cream from Country Valley Dairy in Picton and mushrooms grown in an old train tunnel in Mittagong. That had a huge impact on the way I viewed food.” 

The movement started emerging in Australia around 15 years ago and has tentacled into the mainstream: discerning diners now demand to know where what they’re eating has come from. It’s dovetailed with a move towards organic eating and can even be seen in the rise of farmers’ markets and DIY sourdough. It all links back to knowing where food originated, and how it has been produced. 

“The connection to place, to have some tangible control or at least an input, to grow specifically for an idea in mind, to grow and harvest with a view to flavour and freshness rather than to support the ability to be refrigerated, handled and transported … working with such distance between growing and cooking and then serving didn’t make much sense,” says Brae chef-owner Dan Hunter. “Not to mention the positive well-being that occurs with the daily interaction with an immediate natural environment, and people involved in the growing process.”

“Australia truly has some of the best and most unique produce in the world, so it makes sense to put it at the forefront of every menu,” says Gorringe.


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