Ballarat produce is on the way up

Jayne Newgreen from Talbot Farmers Market, Rachel Peterken from Inglenook Dairy, Mick Nunn from Salt Kitchen Charcuterie and Giorgio Basilio from Basilio Sourdough. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Jayne Newgreen from Talbot Farmers Market, Rachel Peterken from Inglenook Dairy, Mick Nunn from Salt Kitchen Charcuterie and Giorgio Basilio from Basilio Sourdough. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Ballarat diners are becoming more conscious than ever of where their food comes from, according to local restauranteurs.

While it’s tricky to source all meat and fresh produce from Ballarat producers, dining establishments are following the trend of ensuring their ingredients have travelled as few kilometres as possible.

New Sturt Street smokehouse Holy Smokes BBQ sources all of its meat from within Victoria, preferably as close to Ballarat as possible.

“All our meat is from Victoria and free from antibiotics and hormones and grass-fed,” owner Ben Kulman said.

“We absolutely want to get the local message out, especially with the recent dairy farming issues. It’s definitely more prevalent and people are more aware of where their produce is coming from.”

Danielle Jones from Catfish Thai said she sourced all her meat locally, such as the renowned Sher Wagyu farm.

Mrs Jones said she had noticed a definite trend towards local produce in recent years, spurred on by growers moving to the area.

“I think more and more people that have these skills and passion for really good food are moving. Why not? It’s beautiful here, why wouldn’t you move? It’s the lifestyle,” she said.

“It’s the tree changers, it’s the people who have had enough of being in the city.”

She said the trends were also spurred on by the fact more restaurants were opening in Ballarat and surrounds for supplier to sell to.

“There’s starting to be a market for good produce here. It’s starting to make sense. It was an opportunity for us to do what we probably couldn’t do in Melbourne without a lot of extra help, a lot of extra partners and a lot more start-up costs,” she said.

“I think that would be fantastic (to have more premium restaurants in Ballarat). We’re a bit lonely this year in The Age Good Food Guide and it would be fantastic to have a few more restaurants striving to be that quality. Certainly other regional areas – Bendigo and Daylesford – have always done that.

“We’re not that far away from Melbourne, we have a lot of great attractions here.”

She said Ballarat Regional Tourism had done a lot to change perceptions of Ballarat as a food destination.

“Five years ago it was a completely different story, so i think in another five years I’d love for us to still be there but I’d love there to be a couple more restaurants too, because they feed off each other.”