A new Plate Up Ballarat project will provide a modern day link in the food chain from producers, to chefs and customers.
Sharon Knight MP announced a $50,000 state government grant to create a database of all producers in the Ballarat region on Monday.
The project, titled Eat Drink West, will be a central source for Western Victorian food information, from farms and cellar doors to artisans and markets.
The announcement comes after the success of new food festival Plate Up Ballarat in May.
Plate Up Ballarat director Kate Davis said there was a strong demand from consumers who want to eat locally.
“What we learnt from Plate Up Ballarat was most restaurants don’t know who all of our local producers are across Western Victoria,” she said.
“Anyone will be able to get onto our website or social media to find out who is growing grass-fed beef or where you can get capers from locally.
“This is a way to harness the support for our producers and bring it together for a strong food community.”
This is a way to harness the support for our producers and bring it together for a strong food community.Kate Davis, Plate Up Ballarat director
The Eat Drink West database will be a website and promoted with podcasts, social media, seasonal books, workshops and a partnership with Plate Up Ballarat.
Consumers and chefs will be able to access information and stories on the farm and its produce and where it is available.
Ms Davis said the long-term vision was for chefs from around Victoria to access the database and purchase Western Victorian produce.
“We live in a fast paced society. Chefs and consumers are super busy, so this will make it easy to jump online and find out where they can source particular produce,” she said.
“I sent the information out to a top chef in Melbourne and he rang within an hour to say ‘this is exactly what we need’.”
East Drink West will strengthen Ballarat’s position as a culinary destination, also promoted through Visit Ballarat’s new tourism campaign Made of Ballarat.
National Visitor Survey data released in April revealed Ballarat’s greatest tourist attraction was now its culinary flair.
It reported more than 55 per cent of domestic overnight visitors said dining at cafes and restaurants in the city was their main activity.
“It isn’t just about attracting visitors though,” Visit Ballarat chief executive Noel Dempsey said.
“More than three million visitors came to Ballarat last year and we know they expect good food and drink.”
Planning is already underway for next year’s Plate Up Ballarat festival.
A call for expressions of interest will be made in coming weeks.
The first festival last May supported more than 90 local producers through almost 40 culinary events.
The $50,000 state government grant is a part of its Stronger Regional Communities Plan.