A funding announcement has brought Daylesford one step closer to hosting a world-first culinary institution.
Funding of more than $120,000 to assess the proposal for an Institute of Gastronomy in Daylesford was announced on Thursday.
The Lake House’s Alla Wolf-Tasker AM has been developing the idea for the institute over the past three years.
She saw a need to address skills shortages in the hospitality industry while harnessing interest in produce provenance, sustainable regenerative agricultural practices and food production retaining artisin skills.
Ms Wolf-Tasker said the one-of-a-kind education facility would build knowledge about global best practice in food.
“I work with small producers and the issue I see with them is not having the capacity to source the knowledge to get their businesses to the next step and evolve their craft,” Ms Wolf-Tasker said.
“It occurred to me that if we created an institute here, it could serve both purposes of up-skilling culinary professionals and offering them really interesting electives on their courses, and at the same time creating a hub as a centre of learning for sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
“We don’t have anything like that at the moment in Australia.”
Discussions about potential educational programs at the Institute of Gastronomy have included cheese-making, butchery, sourdough baking and fermentation.
Educational electives for aspiring business owners in the areas of food production and agriculture are also on the discussion agenda.
Food Source Victoria contributed $100,000 to establish a business case for the institute, alongside a Regional Development Australia grant of $20,000.
Leading project partners William Angliss Institute of TAFE contributed $30,000 to the feasibility and planning stages.
Institute of Gastronomy project leaders Alla Wolf-Tasker and William Angliss Institute will use the funding announced on Thursday to assess budget requirements, an operating model, site analysis and economic and social impact.
It is envisaged the institute will be a community facility that houses a culinary school, agribusiness entrepreneurship institute and an exhibition space.
The community facility model will aim to encourage participation from interested local farmers, fine food producers and hospitality professionals while attracting local, national and international students.
“It would be a place that people would come to learn, but also people would come to lecture and run workshops,” Ms Alla-Wolf Tasker said.
“I can’t tell you how often we get phone calls from people saying ‘we want to relocate, what do you think about having an olive grove’ or ‘we want to make cheese, do you think there is any potential for it in Daylesford?’.
“They have nowhere to get expertise from other people, so this could be a hub where people come to learn from other practitioners and it benefits the practitioners themselves because you could have people on placement hours working on the farms.”
Ms Wolf-Tasker added the Institute of Gastronomy could provide an “economic jolt” for the region.
“We could have experts coming from overseas to transfer their skills to local businesses, but also businesses from all over Australia coming here to learn.” she said.
“Tourism doesn’t just have to be people coming out and having a good time on weekends. This is educational tourism. It is another whole stream of visitors and assistance to the visitor economy.”
Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said the Daylesford region offered a unique opportunity in food production and was becoming known for alternative and unique food production.
“The institute will draw on the region’s strengths to create new opportunities for students that will ultimately benefit the region’s food and tourism industry,” she said.
“The Institute for Gastronomy has the potential to establish a hub for Victoria, offering support and further learning that showcases global expertise and best practice for specialist foods and agribusiness,” William Angliss Institute CEO Nicholas Hunt said.