In amongst the monster trucks and wheelbarrow races, fairy floss and fireworks, stands the From Paddock to Plate (FP2P) marquee. This is where farmers come to share their stories, people gather to learn about fresh local foods and chefs cook healthy delicious tastings.
In the last eight years, the FP2P food education network has grown rapidly thanks to events like the annual Narrabri Show in rural NSW. This is where you will find former rugby league legend Andrew Ettingshausen dressed in a FP2P apron ready to fillet a magnificent Murray Cod from the Narrabri Fish Farm and Chief Maverick (aka Rhys Gard) cooking up a storm on the FP2P stage with local Wattle Vale beef, Dalman Downs Dorper (3D) and Bilgamma Dorper lamb.
The head chef at Maverick Café in Narrabri says it’s important to source ingredients locally. “This is integral to my food ethos – keep everything as local and fresh as possible. Customers not only want to know where food comes from, but they also want to know that the food they are paying for is fresh, healthy and unadulterated,” Rhys says.
“Maverick is a farmer! In a small 7 x 7 metre space at the cafe we grow basil, lemon basil, garlic chives, sage, mint, rosemary, chillies and strawberries. Customers often see me slip out the side door mid-service to grab something for a dish. The only herb I haven’t been able to grow successfully is coriander; the heat here is too savage! Persistence will prevail.
“Why is fresh and simple best when using quality produce? Easy – it looks, cooks and tastes better. Better for the environment. Better for the local economy. It makes plenty of sense, doesn’t it?”