Local food news from across Australia
Despite the fact that our hospitality industry has been put through the wringer over the past two years, these guys are still stepping up to help others. Thanks to our hospo heroes, initiatives to raise funds for people at home and abroad have been set up. We show you how you can help them below. Also making food news this week, a new food incubator is launching in Melbourne, and Western Australian farmers’ markets witness the power of local. In product news, new sweet and savoury treats have been released. And on the foodie festival front, we bring you two upcoming events to tantalise those taste buds.
WA supply issues boost local support
The Western Australian Farmers’ Market Association annual general meeting report has shown that recent supply chain shortages in the state have led to increased consumer awareness of the benefits of shopping at their local farmers’ market. “Just recently, fresh produce prices have risen dramatically,” the report states. “The take-home message is sustainability at a local level; either grow your own or support local.” While customer awareness is up, COVID restrictions have led to some WA markets being temporarily closed or postponed. But despite the problems of the past year, two new markets have launched – the Mundaring Garden and Farmers’ Market and the Peel Produce Market.
Hospos for Ukraine
When former MasterChef contestant Mandy Hall heard the news that UK-based Ukrainian chef and food writer Olia Hercules was launching a campaign called Cook For Ukraine, she wanted to get our hospitality industry involved, too. Hall has created Aussie Hospo for Ukraine. This online auction is raising funds to help children and families displaced by the Ukraine crisis. You can bid for a range of hospitality-led gifts, from cooking classes and meals to quality wines. All proceed go to Unicef and the #cookforukraine platform.
Hospo Hands for flood relief
Victoria’s hottest chefs will come together on Monday, April 4 for a Hospo Hands Flood Fundraiser at Sarah Sands Hotel in Brunswick. Chefs taking part in the event include Jason Staudt and Ash Smith (Stokehouse); Tom Sarafian (Sarafian); Ian Curley (Kirks Wine Bar, French Saloon); Jo Bangles (Splatters Cheese Bar); and Mike Patrick (Fancy Hanks). There are 250 tickets available; one hundred percent of the proceeds will go to FareShare’s Qld and NSW flood relief. The event aims to raise $20,000. To book, click here.
Bees lost in floods
NSW beekeepers have had a hell of a time of it over the past few years. Firstly, bushfires and last year’s floods hit the industry hard. Now the latest flood crisis has added one more blow. According to ABC News, the NSW Apiarists’ Association estimates that 5000 beehives have been lost in the floods. Each hive contains tens of thousands of bees. This doesn’t just hurt apiarists; it will also impact horticulture industries that rely on pollination services.
Table grapes hit export gold
Table grape growers across the Sunraysia region have something to smile about. They’re expecting a bumper 2022 season and demand from overseas customers is sky-high. Family growers like Rocky Mammone and Tim Milner are reaping the rewards of long-time relationships with Asian buyers. While China remains a key market for both growers, they’re also expanding and diversifying into other countries, thanks to support from Austrade’s Agribusiness Expansion Initiative. Australia’s 2021 table grape exports were worth more than $660 million. There are grape expectations for an even more valuable 2022 harvest.
A new commercial kitchen and food incubator, the Food Incubator + Network Centre (FoodINC), will open in Melbourne on April 29. It will offer food start-ups and hospitality entrepreneurs a dedicated space and support network to turn their creative ideas into viable businesses. FoodINC was developed by Melbourne Innovation Centre, Melbourne Polytechnic and Melbourne’s North Food Group in response to the gap in access to affordable, commercial-quality facilities and education services for small food businesses in Melbourne. To find out more or to express your interest, go to foodincubator.com.au.
A lotta ricotta
After a successful inaugural event last year, Melbourne’s That’s Amore Cheese is bringing back its Ricotta Festival in 2022. The Italian style festa will be held on Sunday, May 1 at That’s Amore headquarters in Thomastown. On arrival, fresh hot ricotta will be served up to all guests straight from the vat. But there’ll be plenty more to feast on. Dishes will include ricotta gnocchi, ravioli, porchetta rolls, sausages and freshly filled cannoli from Cannoleria. For those wanting to take some produce home, there’ll be a local producer marketplace. Masterclasses and educational talks will also be on offer. To book, click here.
7-Eleven is teaming up with the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival to deliver a whole new retail experience. From March 25 to April 3, the chain is setting up shop at the Queen Victoria Market. The Convenient Store will be a Melbourne twist on the convenience store concept. There’ll be a menu of reimagined 7-Eleven products as well as some of Melbourne’s most cherished eatery favourites. Dishes include Gomi Boys Ramen noodle cup featuring bush noodles, braised kangaroo, lemon verbena and sardine broth, saltbush tare and quail egg. There’ll also be Slurpee cocktails, sushi and hot deli sandwiches.
Arnott’s goes top shelf
Arnott’s has taken the humble biscuit up a notch, launching a new range of premium sweet and savoury biscuits. There are 12 products in the new range, including Arnott’s Obsession Chocolate Biscuits, Sourdough Crisps and Flatbread Dippers. The range also includes new flavours of the popular Cracker Chips, which have been a hit with consumers over the past year. The range will be available at Coles, Woolies and other major retailers.
Lindt goes vegan
Australia is one of the world’s most vegan countries, with one in three of us now reducing our consumption of dairy and meat products. In good food news for plant-based peeps, Lindt has decided to capitalise on this trend, launching the first Lindt Vegan range. The new products include Lindt CLASSIC Vegan Smooth and Lindt CLASSIC Vegan Hazelnut. Lindt CLASSIC Vegan Chocolate Blocks are now available in all Lindt Chocolate Shops, cafes and online, as well as at major independent supermarkets. They’ll also be at Coles from May.
Also in local food news this week…
After the last two years, a lot of us are sporting some extra padding. But before you try the latest trending diet, we discovered you might want to consider how it will hit your other bottom line – your hip pocket. For those who are looking to up their family’s veg intake, we’ve found a new product that can add both flavour and nutrients to your meals. Speaking of flavour, we also took a look at the tantalising line-up of events you can expect at this year’s Tasting Australia festival. On the seasonal food front, we delved into the wonderful world of figs. And finally, we profiled Angelo’s Daughter, a locally focused family business that’s producing top-quality authentic Italian meals for lucky Brisbanites.
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