A STORY of produce from paddock to plate was told at the Gascoyne Food Festival's Long Table Lunch, held recently at Bentwaters Plantation, Carnarvon.
As 276 guests were enjoying the eight-course degustation of exquisite, chef prepared dishes, they heard how the ingredients had been sourced from local growers, many of whom also attended the lunch.
Master of ceremonies Carmen Braidwood, Perth, facilitated conversations with the chefs and some of the growers to help tell the paddock to plate story so diners could gain an in depth understanding of the labour and love that was used in creating the dishes.
The festival took sourcing local to another level as the day before the event, the nine chefs toured some of the properties that supplied some of their ingredients used for the lunch.
It gave the chefs the opportunity to meet the farmers behind the produce, see how it is grown and hear some of the challenges growers have to manage, such as biosecurity, pests and diseases, markets and pricing, competition from other regions and countries and of course, the weather as the devastation of cyclone Olwyn in 2015 is still being felt by many growers.
It also gave chefs an understanding as to why certain produce might look different from something grown in another region.
The menu showcased Gascoyne produce - including meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables and herbs - to highlight just how premium the produce is that comes out of the food bowl region.
The first course was prepared by Carnarvon-born Stuart Laws, from Showcase Events WA and Rohan Park, Fervor - Abacus Crab, pica de gallo, Nguyen passion fruit crisp, Moore Veggies jalapeno and agave gel.
Through his business Showcase Events WA, Mr Laws works closely with growers to showcase local and seasonal produce to broader markets and the hospitality industry.
This appetiser left diners wanting more and prepared their palettes for what was to come.
The second course was the work of Leigh Nash, of Dingo Sauce Co, North Fremantle - mekong barbecue Sea Harvest king prawns, Nguyen green papaya and Symonds pink grapefruit salad.
Mr Nash is renowned for his love of chilli and it certainly showed in this dish, as the hot chilli perfectly complemented the prawns, balanced by the sweet, flavoursome grapefruit salad.
Course three was made by Scott Bridger, from Bib & Tucker, North Fremantle - crispy lamb shoulder, malt vinegar, Frzop eggplant cream, lamb caramel and saltbush.
Mr Bridger follows the food philosophy of keeping it simple and creating fun, flavoursome food without compromising quality or presentation.
Melissa Palinkas, of Young George, East Fremantle, was the brains behind course four - buttermilk Kailis Spanish mackerel, panch pora, cafe de paris and Borich achar.
While she enjoys creating an innovative menu for her restaurant, Ms Palinkas is passionate about running a sustainable kitchen.
Her root-to-shoot approach to cooking means nothing is wasted.
Scraps from meat and vegetables are used in stock and leftover vegetables are fermented or used for preserves.
Ms Palinkas also tries to minimise Young George's carbon footprint by reducing the use of disposable plastics, so sauces are stored in recycled glass jars and she sends suppliers the restaurant's own crates to be filled with produce.
The fifth course was the work of Kyle Lyons, from Otherside Brewing Co - grilled Sutcliffe asparagus, Symonds grapefruit, Morels dill and macadamia.
A beer enthusiast and aspiring chef, Mr Lyons was in the top 24 of Masterchef 2019.
He has a vegetable-focussed approach to cooking with layers of texture.
Nic Wood, from Santini Bar & Grill, Perth, was the creative mind of the sixth course - chargrilled Harvey Beef rump cap with Frzop caponata.
Inspired by the paddock to plate philosophy, Mr Wood celebrates 'food from the sun' through his Mediterranean menu at Santini Bar & Grill, featuring wood fired cooking and local seasonal produce.
Course seven was by Gord Kahle, of Cook & Mason, East Fremantle - North African-spiced Japanese Riverlodge pumpkin, Loveapple tomato and Borich red pepper fondue with Morels coriander.
Local produce has long been a passion for Mr Kahle and overtime he has developed strong relationships with growers and seafood producers.
He sees it as a privilege to be able to showcase their food for his guests.
Dubbed 'dish of the day' by many, the eighth and dessert course was prepared by Chase Weber, The Standard, Perth - Sweeter Banana, Nguyen passionfruit, myrtle and burnt honey.
Called ' Comfortable in Our Skins' this was a peel-to-stem dish which used the skins of the bananas and passion fruits in such a way that one would've never guessed.
It also highlighted the challenge that many growers and chefs are trying to manage of minimising food waste.
In the culinary world Mr Weber is known for pushing the boundaries with innovative techniques and concepts that place emphasis on the need for dietary savvy food.
- Mollie Tracey attended the event as a guest of the Gascoyne Food Council.