LAKE House in Daylesford has seen some changes in three decades, but not to its philosophy.
Before the awards and global exposure, co-owner and culinary director Alla Wolf-Tasker used fresh, seasonal and local produce in her restaurant.
The Daylesford icon celebrates its 30th birthday this year – and Ms Wolf-Tasker and her team still stick to the mantra.
“You don’t drive an hour-and-a-half from the city to a restaurant to sit inside and not have some reflection of the season outside,” Ms Wolf-Tasker said.
“You look through the big windows at Lake House and the season outside needs to be reflected on the plate. We don’t import things in the middle of winter.”
Early in her career, Ms Wolf-Tasker dreamed of opening a two- to three-Michelin-star restaurant.
She still finds it hard to believe the success Lake House has seen in 30 years.
"We have got some people who have been coming for 30 years but we also now have their children"
Recently the restaurant picked up the Gourmet Traveller Best Regional Hotel in Australia award.
“That one has been on the bucket list for a while,” she said.
Lake House was also listed as one of the Tatler’s Top 100 Hotels in the world.
“The fact that we are still winning awards is great. That is a blessing,” she said.
But there were some challenges early in Ms Wolf-Tasker’s culinary journey, especially in the early 1980s.
“People started to go overseas. They’re were travelling away from their own backyards,” she said.
“There really wasn’t any local tourism (in Daylesford).”
Melbourne’s fine dining scene was also less adventurous.
“If you wanted to go out to a special occasions restaurant in Melbourne, it was French (cuisine),” she said.
“I think we have come a long way since then. We have become very proud of our produce.”
Ms Wolf-Tasker said her push for fresh and seasonal produce helped established a food culture in the region.
“The local and seasonal (produce), right from day one when we opened our door, has always been an attempt to establish a local food culture,” she said.
Lake House has also attracted a number of loyal customers in the past three decades.
“We have got some people who have been coming for 30 years but we also now have their children having their proposals, engagements and weddings here,” she said.
“It is pretty nice for us.”
Those loyal customers will be rewarded as part of the Lake House year-long 30th birthday celebration.
“We are doing some special offers for some of our guests that have been coming back for years,” she said.
As for Lake House’s next 30 years, Ms Wolf-Tasker believes the restaurant will continue to evolve.
“Our cuisine is always evolving,” she said.
“The cooking school is a new thing and we will have a new bar that will be part of the restaurant.”
The philosophy will remain unchanged.
“It is important that we stay fresh and innovative for our guests, both old and new,” she said.