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Helen Hayward

Stories and recipes from extraordinary Tasmanians

Contents Fore Fo ore ewo word d vi v Introd In trod tr oduc duc ucti ti t ion on vi viii iii Su S ue Al lli liso lis sonn-Ro R ge gers rs 2 Stea St e me m d pu pudd ddin dd ing in g 4

Co C ole lett ett tte Ba Barn rne rn es 6 es Bo one ne Bro r t th h 9

W ll Big Wi gne n l ll l 10 0 Tar Ta rt te ta tati tati tin 13 tin 13

Luke Lu ke Bur urge ge g ess ss 14 Stea St eame me ed d oy oyst yster st ter rs w wi ith th age ged a ap ppl ple ci ider der dr de dres essi sin sing ng g 17 17

Jo Co Jo oo ok 18 Muss Mu ssel els w wi ith ith th gar arl li ic ic, c, , ci id de er r, pa pars arsle rs sl le ey & a bi it of cre r am m 2 21 1

Mich Mi chel ell le e Cra rawf wfor ord 22 Ea E arl rly rlyy-s sp pri ring ng str trawbe awb aw be err ry j ja am 25

Pe P ene n l lo o ope pe Dodd pe od dd 26 Pe P enn nne co on p po oll l o 29 29

J nn Je ny Du udg dgeo eon n 30 Ch C her erry rry y vi in neg gar 3 32 2

Ju ul li ie Du Dunb nbab abin in 34 34 Ch C hic icken ke k en pi ie es s 37 37

Rodn Ro dne ey y Dun u n 38 Pot Po ta ato to gno oc cc ch hi i wi it th r ri icott co c ot tt ta & w we eed d bur urnt nt bu ut tte ter 43 43

Mark Mark Ma k Ea at ther her 44 he Fl F la at the ea ad d, tart tartar ta rtar rt ar re e sa sau uc ce & do doub uble le-f le-f -fri rie ed d cr ri isp sp py y ch chip ps 49 49

Ma M at tt the hew Ev Eva an ns 50 2, 4, 6, 2, 6 8 cak ake e 54

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Steven French 56

Creamy potato bake 58

Christina Giudici 60 Limoncello 63

Karen Goodwin-Roberts 64

Flatbread with labneh, honey & walnuts 67

Rose Grant 68 Porridge 71

Joe Gretschmann 72

Antonia’s fried haloumi with polenta 75

Chris Read 128

Spanish omelette 130

Guy Robertson 132

Eliza’s Spanish beans 137

Tony Scherer 138

Tasmanian lamb shoulder with minted peas 142

Kim Seagram 144

Slow-cooked lamb shanks with pesto-flavoured polenta 149

Madi Seeber-Peattie 150

Yves Guinat 76

Cheesy garlic bread 153

Kirsha Kaechele 80

Morel (mushroom) risotto 157

Mary McNeill 86

Seafood with red chilli paste & couscous 161

Honey cream 79

Dahl & purple cabbage salad 84

Apple crumble tart 90

David Moyle 92

John Serra 154 Waji Spiby 158

Silvana Taurian 164

Mustard aioli 95

Egg yolk ravioli (uova da ravioli) 167

Lydia Nettlefold 96

Don Thomson 168

Chicken, leek & filo pie 99

Nick Nikitaras 100 Avgolemono soup 103

Ross O’Meara 104 Dry-cured bacon 107

Tess Oddie 108 Baked eggs 111

Jay Patey 112

Sweet pastry dough 115

Gravy 170

Peter Trioli 172

Rigatoni with tomato, pancetta, buffalo mozzarella & basil 175

Marcus Vermey 176

Steak with Japanese sauces 178

Bridgette Watts 180

Seasonal baked vegetables 183

Paulette Whitney 184 Rooster soup 186

Graham Prichard 116 Malted barley bread 120

Matt Rao 122

Pizza dough 125

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Index 190 About the author 194 Author acknowledgements 197

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Matthew Evans G O URM E T FA RM E R & FOOD WRI TE R

A ch c ef and nd foo o d cr oo crit itic ic tur rne ned d sm smal allh lhol olde d r an de and d TV pre r se sent nter nt r, Mat Ma tthe ew Ev E an ns cu curr rren entl tly y fa farm rms s in the Huo uon n Va Vall lley ey, , in sou outher rn T sm Ta smani nia ia. Ma Matt tt the hew w is a str tron ong g be beli li iev ever er in ‘r ‘rea e l’ foo ea ood, d, in n wh hic ich h i s pr it prov o en nan nce is kn know own n an and d th the e pr p o od duc cer e val alue u d. Com mbi ining ni ing n an act an ctiv i e fa iv arm r in ing g li life fe wit ith h a de esi sire re e to co comm mmun unic ic cat ate e it ts va valu lue lu e in wri r ti t ng ng, Ma Matt tt the hew w ha as pu publ blis is she hed d ni nine ne boo ooks ks – his s mos ost t a bi am b ti t ous be bein in ng Th The e Re Real a Foo al od Comp pan anio io on.

atthew’s first memory of food is the smell of burnt crumpets. ‘It’s coming into the kitchen on a school morning to the sound of my father scraping the crumpets he’d just burnt. Of course you can’t actually scrape crumpets once they’re burnt’, grins Matthew. ‘You can never get the black out of all the holes that you can and can’t see. And yet three times a week Dad would cook my sisters and me breakfast, in our kitchen in Canberra, and the crumpets would inevitably end up burnt.’ Matthew suspects he was a bit of a disappointment to his father. ‘He always wanted me to be outside, chipping mortar off bricks or digging holes in the garden – whereas I wanted to be inside, licking the spatula in the kitchen, making cakes.’ There was good reason for this, he explains. ‘I realised that, if you were in the kitchen after school, you got to eat earlier – and more things. This was important because I was pretty well always hungry. And so, instead of labouring out in the garden with Dad, I’d hang around the kitchen with Mum.’ Matthew isn’t sure whether his mother actually taught him to cook, ‘but I certainly don’t remember a time when I couldn’t poach an egg. I’m amazed that some people might find that difficult.’ Hardly surprising, then, that on leaving school, Matthew knew he wanted to be a chef, and wrote to 60 restaurants in Canberra asking for an apprenticeship. ‘I got two responses’, he recalls. ‘One of them said no. The other, a posh restaurant with what I soon realised was a crazy chef, said yes.’



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‘What I say to people these days is that if you really love cooking, don’t become a chef. Have dinner parties and cook for friends – because chefs do a whole heap of things, over and above cooking.’

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He started out in the prep kitchen, ‘learning organisational skills, knife skills, and how to stay tidy and clean. Then I moved into the service kitchen, where I had to get used to working with shouting, screaming, and knives appearing in my direction. Of course knives weren’t actually thrown at me, so much as thrown at something else before bouncing my way.’ The crazy chef, as it turned out, ‘from what I now think was boredom’, says Matthew, thought it was fun to degrade and belittle his staff, telling his young apprentice time and again that he’d never make a chef. After a year and a half, Matthew started to wonder why he was working there and decided to quit. ‘I felt really disappointed. It had always been my childhood dream to become a chef. I’d got into cooking at home and really loved it.’ He pauses. ‘What I say to people these days is that if you really love cooking, don’t become a chef. Have dinner parties and cook for friends – because chefs do a whole heap of things, over and above cooking. So many apprentices are destroyed by the apprenticeship system. About half of them drop out, and a significant number within their first two years.’ Studying human biology at university wasn’t, he concedes, an obvious next step. But he was pretty fit in his early twenties, loved running and hiking, and had always been interested in how the body works. It was around this time, following a bad experience with cheap mince, that he became a vegetarian for three years.

On a mountaintop in Nepal, following his degree, he had an epiphany. ‘I realised that I still loved cooking. When you’re walking, your thoughts’, he laughs, ‘often turn to food! After five years out of the kitchen, I went back to the same crazy chef in the same restaurant, and asked if I could work for free to get my skills back. In the end I worked there for a year and a half before finishing off my apprenticeship in a hotel.’ While he says there are clearly problems with the apprenticeship system, he now thinks it was valuable training. ‘You learned to make things that often weren’t fashionable, like choux pastry and proper brown sauce, that will end up being served somewhere you later work.’ But also, he adds, ‘learning how to cook isn’t like learning how to do other things. With cooking, you only get one chance to get it right. If you send out a salad that gets sent back because there’s a yellow leaf in it, and then you do the same thing again, well that’s it.’

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He raises his eyes to the ceiling. ‘And, if you’re going to get things right the first time, you need to learn how to work in a hierarchy that enables it all to work.’ By the time he finished his apprenticeship, Matthew knew that better food was being served out there, somewhere. He worked for a while in a Blue Mountains restaurant, before moving to Sydney. Having trained in establishments that served pretty dodgy food – defrosting fish in the sink – Matthew says he learned a lot about good food from reading books and magazines. ‘And from trialling things at home. I also started making trips to nice restaurants. Most of what I now know about cooking comes from cooking at home, experimenting professionally and travel. Travel was very important.’ Asked which books have had the most impact on him, Matthew cites a rich list. ‘There are, of course, lots of cookery books – most of which are fairly derivative. But my favourites? Paula Wolfert’s Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Jeanne Strang’s Goose Fat and Garlic: Country Recipes from South-West France. I like cookery books by writers who’ve been on the ground. Writers who have lived with people who are effectively peasants of a particular region – because that’s where you get the real cooking.’ ‘Another favourite is Pellegrino Artusi’s The Art of Eating Well: An Italian Cookbook. Although he wasn’t a chef, his book is a window into really good Tuscan food. David Thompson’s Classic Thai Cuisine is another key book. And Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook is the book that opened this nation’s eyes to Asian food, region by region. All these books I still go back to.’ Matthew had been writing about food, on the side, for a long time. ‘My sister told me, early on, that if I could write a column that fitted into what newspaper editors called the ‘eighth column’ – which needed to be filled at the eleventh hour – that I’d have a good chance of getting published. I did this for The Canberra Times. I worked hard to make sure that what I wrote was interesting for readers, and not something that required wading through. This, after all, was their time to relax. Although the paper didn’t pay me for the first year, they did occasionally publish me. This gave me a chance to play around with different ways of writing about food.’ After hurting his back in a lifting accident, and being told he’d never work with food full-time again, writing about food became part of Matthew’s back-up plan. ‘As it turned out, I did work another two years as a chef. However the six months that I had off for my back gave me a chance to read, and to remain inspired through books. It meant I could enjoy food vicariously.’

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Soon afterwards, he became involved in a government scheme to teach young trainees – who’d been threatened with being cut off from the dole – how to cook. ‘It was a bit like Jamie Oliver’s [apprentice program] Fifteen, only we weren’t able to vet the students – who in nearly every case had no interest in hospitality. Instead they had various social problems. As a result lots of them simply didn’t show up. And when they did, it was risky to be in a kitchen with them, with sharp knives and flames, teaching them a national curriculum course in hospitality. There I was teaching them how to hand-stretch filo pastry, even though I’d never stretched it myself.’ He found it hard not to empathise with their plight. ‘Often students would disappear on dole day and then reappear three or four days later, still in their black-andwhite-checkered trousers, perhaps having slept rough, or having been to the casino. When the weather was bad, some students would sleep on the four-hour train trip from Sydney to Lithgow and back. The other place some would choose to sleep was the little grassy strip that you find in between motorways …’ His voice trails off at the memory. When Matthew moved to Melbourne, having decided to be a restaurant reviewer, he was initially only able to find casual gigs. ‘I put my name down with an agency that, with an hour’s notice, would place me in a nursing home, hospital, boardroom or corporation canteen. This flexibility allowed me to ride the growing wave of interest in food, effectively creating my own jobs through writing for The Age’s ‘Epicure’ and ‘Good Food’ guide.’ Then followed a job in Sydney as Features Editor for Vogue Entertaining, and some work at The Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Of the 3000 restaurants in New South Wales, our reviewers focused on just 300 of them. For us it wasn’t about reviewing fine dining. It was about directing a friend to the kind of place that served quality food. Those were the days in which readers hung out for that one restaurant review every Tuesday. I think readers grew to trust me because I could afford to criticise. That one review had real authority, because I could choose to kick heads or lavish praise. It’s so different from the situation these days, with competing reviews on the internet.’ Matthew felt five to seven years was about the right length of time in this role. But after just five years, it was time to seek fresh fields. Having grown up in a smaller town, he wanted a garden. ‘I’d tried to garden in Sydney, but all my efforts were overshadowed by a larger building out the back of my house – which meant I ended up with moss and slugs. So I joined a community garden and got a plot twice the size of a kitchen table – again with mixed

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results. But all the time I had this idea that it would be nicer to live in a smaller town, with more space and clean air.’ Coming to Tasmania was a ‘happy accident’, he says. ‘When I turned 40, I decided I wanted to live somewhere that I could have a garden and two chooks, and where I knew a few people. For a while I lived in Hobart. But then I realised I could as easily write freelance in the country, and have even more space. And so I looked around, found a property – and then the global financial crisis hit, which meant I was lucky to get a bank to lend money.’

By this point, Matthew knew exactly what he wanted: ‘I wanted enough land to have sheep, and a cow that I could milk. Basically I fell in love with the concept of growing vegetables that could be picked just before eating, and eating meat from animals that hadn’t been stressed for hours at the abattoir. Because it really does taste better.’ ‘Part of my journey of discovery as a food writer turned farmer has been documented in three series of [the successful TV series] Gourmet Farmer. During this journey I learned how to milk a cow, get my first sheep and other animals, learn to brew beer and generally deal with the vagaries of rural life in southern Tasmania. I also get to go fishing and on other adventures with my mates [Bruny Island Food farmer and gamekeeper] Ross O’Meara and [Bruny Island Cheese Co. Cheesemaker] Nick Haddow. These days I run a bigger farm, Fat Pig Farm, which we occasionally open to the public for events. A fourth series, Gourmet Farmer Afloat, where I sail around Tasmania with Nick and Ross, goes to air early in 2015.’ So what secret comfort food does a renowned ‘gourmet farmer’ settle down to at night? ‘Oh these days I think that would be bacon and eggs and fried bread. We make all of these ourselves now, so I know they’re good. And the whole thing, which is totally delicious and completely satisfying, takes me a total of five minutes.’ And with this he jumps up, puts on a woolly jumper, shakes my hand and departs. q

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When I was a kid I learned to bake a cake not long after I learned to count in twos. You see, my family’s favourite recipe is a simple cake known as a ‘2, 4, 6, 8 cake’ after the number of eggs and ounces of each ingredient. (I was old enough to wonder why it wasn’t called a ‘½, 2, 4, 6, 8 cake’, as it needs half a cup of milk to loosen the batter up a bit.) This cake does take longer to make than a packet mix – like about 5–10 minutes, let’s be honest about it! – but it tastes real and is pretty hard to get wrong. You can ice the cake or fill with jam and cream. 2 eggs 4 ounces (120 g) butter, softened (don’t use margarine) 6 ounces (180 g) caster sugar 8 ounces (240 g, 1 ¾ cups) self-raising flour, sifted ½ cup (125 ml) milk Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F. Grease and line a 24 cm cake tin. Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar in a bowl, until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in half the flour, then half the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, then pour the batter into the cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool slightly, before turning out of the tin.

CHEAT NOTES To tell if a cake is done, there are generally three methods, of which you should always use two. * Insert a wooden skewer into the very centre. Pull it out and run your fingers along it. If you find any wet or uncooked batter, keep baking (crumbs are okay). * Press the top of the cake gently with the first two fingers of one hand. With most cakes, it should immediately bounce back to its previous height. * The cake has started to come away from the edges of the tin slightly. (This one is more of a guide than gospel.)

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Kim Se Ki Kim Seag agra ag ra r am am ha has s b be ee en n hea e vi vil ly y in nv vol vol olve ved ve ed in in th he e hos sp pi itali tal ta li ity ty, , and an d fo food and win ine e in indu dust du stri st ies in Ta Tasm sm man a ia a for r ove v r 20 0 yea ears r , and rs and an more mo re e rec e en entl t y, tl , Lau unc ces esto to ton’ on’ n’s s Ha Harv rves rv es st Ma Mark rk ket et. . Wi With her r hus u ba band d Ro od As scu cui, i, she e run uns s th t e a aw war arddd -wi winn nin ing g L La a aun un u nce cest ton n eat ter erie rie es, , Sti St il i llw l at ater er r and d Bla lack ck k Cow w Bis i tr t o o, , whi hich ich are e ren now owne ne ned ed fo f r th thei thei ir u e of us of qu ua a ali lity li t pro ty odu duce and nd hig igh h st sta anda anda an d rd ds of f ser ervi v ce ce.

im’s father, a busy paediatric surgeon in Calgary, Canada, loved good food. In particular, he loved dining out. Some of his patients’ parents – Greek, Italian, Chinese – ran their own restaurants, and would show their appreciation by offering Kim’s family a meal out. As a result, it was normal for Kim to eat adventurously. On the way home from school in the car, she and her mother would talk through the evening’s menu with the same easy interest with which Kim relayed what had happened at school. Having studied science at university in Canada, Kim stayed on as a researcher in molecular genetics. ‘Our work in the lab was so precise’, she recalls. ‘Everything was measured out to the milligram or microgram! It was a relief to go home at the end of the day and to throw a handful of this, and a pinch of that, into the cooking pot. I loved the freedom and lack of structure in the kitchen. And,’ she laughs, ‘my boyfriend reaped the benefits. It was around this time that I came to appreciate a glass of sherry in the evening – especially after studying the genetic basis of insecticide resistance in a particular variety of mosquito!’ When her contract at the lab ended, Kim and her sister spent four months travelling around Europe. They had a ball. ‘With our dark, swarthy complexions, we fitted in wherever we went’, she grins. ‘And thanks to our early experiences in restaurants, we never felt out of place. Sitting down in a Greek restaurant, for example, we’d order a retsina as a matter of course’, while their friends would chorus, ‘How can you drink that stuff?’


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On returning from Europe, Kim spent six months working with a friend, a Cordon Bleu chef, in her friend’s catering business. ‘It was just the best thing that could have happened to me. Talk about hard work! We’d cook all day in this tiny kitchen, run home late afternoon to change into our black and whites, and then serve the food that we’d spent all day cooking.’ But it was working in big hotels that soon caught her imagination. ‘I saw big hotels as a place to grow and develop’, she explains. So, when she was offered a position in the Rocky Mountains at Chateau Lake Louise – part of a 100-year-old Fairmont hotel chain dotted along the Canadian Pacific rail network – she jumped at the chance, and started working on the front desk the following day. Within six months she was assistant front desk manager and, within a year, acting front-of-office manager. The hotel attracted head chefs from all around the world. ‘We had a sushi bar, a Russian restaurant, a Swiss wine bar – the repertoire was truly global.’ The hotel also hosted a World Cup skiing championship, where she met a charmingly handsome man in a crushed purple velour cap. After speaking to him for three hours, Kim, then aged 28, told her friend, ‘I think I’ve met the man I’m going to marry … And he lives in Tasmania’, she added. ‘Where’s that?’ her friend asked. ‘I think it’s somewhere near New Zealand’, Kim replied. Within a year and a half, Kim was married and living on the other side of the planet.

After looking around her new home state – and being delighted at what she saw – Kim joined her husband Rod Ascui in his business adventures. At the time this was a tiny cafe in Launceston called Ripples, and a newly planted vineyard near Lilydale, in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley. Admittedly, it was a long way from being an executive in a 520-room five-star hotel. But right from the start Kim loved her new life. She felt alive to the untapped natural beauty and resources of the state, and to its open friendly people. The vineyard at Lalla Gully grew from strength to strength. ‘Fortunately, because of my experience in the lab, winemaking came easily to me’, she says. And given Rod’s background – he’s Chilean American, born in Germany and with a degree in agricultural business – he was a natural entrepreneur. Together they made a good team. Some of Kim’s happiest memories are of their early days at the vineyard – ‘some of which were absolutely freezing during the winter pruning season!’

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During this time Kim and Rod had a friend, an English wine writer, come to stay with them. When they quizzed him about his impressions, he replied that Tasmania is ‘a thinking man’s destination’. He didn’t mean that Tasmania is ideal for academically minded visitors, but that the state opens itself best to those willing to engage with it – shooting the rapids, gazing from a mountain peak, eating oysters on a beach. Kim found herself agreeing with him. ‘The beauty of Tasmania’, she says, ‘is that it’s the destination you want it to be.’

‘By this point,’ she continues, ‘I was convinced that we were living in the best place in the world. A place that hardly anyone knew about. I remember my father coming down in 1993, and reaching up to pick an apple from my mother-in-law’s tree. “Oh my God,” he spluttered, on biting into it, “I’d forgotten what apples tasted like!”’ ‘And the seafood! When I was a child in Calgary, the only fish we got to eat arrived frozen solid and square from a box. In contrast, eating fish here has always been an absolute joy.’ In those early years, Kim remembers taking Canadian friends to Tasmania’s east coast, and dropping in on an oyster farmer on the way. ‘It was late afternoon, the oyster guy was about to close up for the day – and we asked him for three or four dozen. “Sure thing”, he said. Within minutes he’d reopened his shed and started up his dinghy outboard. Twenty minutes later he’d returned with seven dozen oysters, for which we paid the princely sum of $3 a dozen. It’s spontaneous things like these that make Tasmania such a special place for me.’ For the next decade Kim worked in marketing for the organisation that became Wine Tasmania. ‘The wine industry’, she says, ‘was my first Tasmanian family. I worked in the branch office and we had absolutely no money, except just a little bit from the government. However I quickly realised how good we – as Tasmanians – are at working together. Even though we represent less than one per cent of the national grape crush, we make approximately ten per cent of the premium bottled wine.’ Having made it her job to tell the rest of the world about Tasmania’s fabulous produce and wine, Kim helped to develop a national wine tourism strategy – becoming involved with Brand Tasmania and Tourism Tasmania along the way. Her way forward with Rod was slowly becoming clearer: they decided to set up a restaurant showcasing some of the best produce and wine in the world, while also setting a high bar for quality service.

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Ritchie’s Mill, a heritage building on the Tamar River in Launceston, was a complicated site for a big project. But within a year of opening, in 2000, their new Stillwater restaurant won its first national award. And it has been collecting them ever since.

Kim is particularly proud of the way Stillwater – and the more recently opened Black Cow Bistro steakhouse – grows new talent. Each restaurant has stayed on top of its game thanks to the youth, passion and energy of its staff. ‘Rod and I have a fabulous team – with business partners James and Bianca Welsh, and Craig Will. When James first arrived,’ Kim recalls with a smile, ‘he was a vegetarian, and only knew white wine from red. Today he’s an award-winning sommelier and wine judge. Bianca, our wonderful front-of-house manager, is studying for a degree in psychology and human resources. And Craig took up the challenge of starting a stylish Tasmanian steakhouse from the ground up. Our steaks aren’t supersized, of course. But coming from happy animals, they are much healthier for us to eat than hormoneenhanced or genetically modified meat.’ Craig, she adds, is now executive chef for both operations. ‘Having a chef with the calm control that Craig possesses meant that we could cut a large rectangle in the plaster at Stillwater to give the kitchen a view of the river. How many restaurants’, she asks, ‘can boast a view of the river from the kitchen? This enthusiasm, this passion, is incredibly rewarding. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with a team of this calibre. But perhaps what gives me most satisfaction is the fact that clients from both our restaurants have voted us into the top ten per cent of global businesses for customer satisfaction.’ When Kim describes the Stillwater project – of presenting five-star food and wine in a beautiful setting – she doesn’t mean starched napkins and curtseying staff. A five-star dining experience, in an Australian restaurant, has a particular character. Yes, it’s about wonderful food – local, colourful, fresh. But it’s also about the friendly and tactful attention of staff. It’s about a relationship that is neither gushy nor inquisitive, but considered, professional and warm. Anyone, in Kim’s view, can be taught how to carry a plate. Anyone can be brought up to speed in technical service details. Good staff know how to read a table – when to approach, when to suggest coffee and when to leave it alone. Most importantly, good staff know how to treat guests as valued individuals. And they know this not through any training manual or top-down order, but

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through understanding how they like to be treated when they go out. When Kim first came to Launceston over 20 years ago, she was struck by how many locals had an air of apology about them – as if living in the state demanded further explanation. These days, thanks to a newfound optimism, the reverse is true. Nowadays when locals start chatting to a visitor, they’ll say how lucky they are to live in Launceston and talk about their state with genuine pride. ‘This is why the Harvest Farmers’ Market has been such a delight’, says Kim. ‘A group of us started it a few years ago when everything was doom and gloom. And now look at it – 2500 to 3000 people per market, even in the middle of winter, with the number of producers growing monthly. What I find especially rewarding is community pride in the quality of food available. Not to mention getting the 2013 Best Market Award from ABC Delicious magazine!’ On a recent trip to Canada, an old friend caught Kim off guard, asking her where ‘home’ was these days. ‘What do you mean?’ Kim replied. ‘Won’t you’, her friend persisted, ‘come back to Canada when you get older?’ ‘No,’ Kim replied without hesitating. ‘Tasmania is my home now.’

Gazing out over the river, she adds, ‘What I particularly love about living here is that you can take from other cultures, without being tied to any one of them. In my mind you can be truly creative when you can make your own traditions. But also, there’s something about the mix of lifestyle, access to nature, and community empowerment which makes you feel that you really can make a difference here.’ As we speak, Kim has lamb shanks slowly braising in the oven – along with garlic, rosemary, fennel, tomato, leek, carrot, celery and wine. ‘After I pick up my husband from the airport this afternoon,’ she says, ‘I’ll make polenta to go with it – with lots of parmesan cheese and a dollop of homemade pesto. We’ll probably have it with a York Town Organics salad and a bottle of Kelvedon pinot noir. A perfectlyy wond wonderful dinner.’ E

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‘Yes, it’s about wonderful food – local, colourful, fresh. But it’s also about the friendly and tactful attention of staff. It’s about a relationship that is neither gushy nor inquisitive, but considered, professional and warm.’

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Inngrgredieennts for lamb shanks

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Slow-cooked lamb shanks with pesto-flavoured polenta PREPARATION TIME 15 MINUTES COOKING TIME 6 HOURS (OR MORE) SERVES 6

I pop the shanks in the oven before heading to work. The shanks only need a simple green salad for a great meal. olive oil, for pan-frying 6 lamb shanks 2 red onions, diced 3 garlic cloves, diced 3 large carrots, diced 1 fennel bulb, diced 1 x 800 g tin crushed tomatoes 1 teaspoon dried oregano 3 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley sprigs, chopped 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock 250 ml (1 cup) red wine PESTO-FLAVOURED POLENTA

150 g (1 cup) instant polenta 500 ml (2 cups) milk (or water) 50 g (½ cup) grated parmesan 2 tablespoons pesto Preheat the oven to 150°C/302°F. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan. Working in batches, brown the lamb shanks over medium heat, turning them so they brown all over. Place them all snugly together in a casserole dish that has a tight-fitting lid. Clean the frying pan, then heat a little more olive oil. Brown the onion, garlic, carrot and fennel for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the tomato, herbs, stock and wine and stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the shanks, put the lid on and transfer to the oven. Cook for at least 6 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. When you’re nearly ready to serve, cook the polenta. Warm the milk in a saucepan, then sprinkle in the polenta. Cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes, until the polenta reaches a thick porridge consistency. Remove from the heat and stir through the parmesan and pesto. Divide the polenta among serving bowls or plates. Top with the shanks and serve.

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15/01/2015 3:19 pm

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For many years Tasmania has been renowned as the Apple Isle because it is a major producer of apples. Today, however Tasmania produces more...