Top Malaysian restaurateurs visit region

SOME of Malaysia’s top chefs have visited the Ballarat region, with hopes of finding local producers for their international restaurants.

Yesterday the seven executive chefs received the ultimate paddock-to-plate experience as part of the Moorabool Shire’s Feast of March festival.

The group visited and sampled produce from Tripod Farmers, Bacchus Marsh; Sher Wagyu, Ballan; Tooheys potatoes, Springbank; and Inglenook Dairy, Dunnstown and even scored a swig of local beer at Rebellion Brewery in Ballarat.

Best Western Kuala Lumpur executive chef Jaffery Othman said his restaurant already sourced 90 per cent of its produce from Australia and would welcome another supplier, possibly from Ballarat.

“We would encourage (local producers) to export to Malaysia,” Mr Othman said.

“Victoria is very different to Malaysia, it’s very clean.”

“(The tour) gives us the opportunity to speak to farmers directly and learn more about local products,” he said.

Mr Othman, who specialises in modern Mediterranean cuisine, said 50 per cent of his Malaysian restaurant customers were from Europe and had expensive tastes.

“The quality produce is not ... in Malaysia, the meat is not as good as Australia beef,” he said.

But Mr Othman said he preferred to use Australian produce instead of European produce in his dishes.

“Australia is closer to Malaysia and the exchange rate is better in Australia than in Europe,” Mr Othman said.

The seasoned chef has been working in the industry for 25 years and has spent the past two and a half years working in Best Western’s three restaurants in Malaysia.

Before that, Mr Othman worked in the United Kingdom for 15 years.

Yesterday the seven chefs enjoyed a lunch at the Plough restaurant in Myrniong, prepared by head chef Mark Mills.

The Victorian Agribusiness Council organised the chef’s tour of Victoria and the Ballarat region.

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