Farmers and producers in Victoria's west now have a direct link to the kitchens of chefs and tables of diners with the launch of Eat Drink West.
The website is the brainchild of Ballarat foodie and Plate Up Ballarat founder Kate Davis, who realised the gap between paddock and plate for local producers.
"During Plate Up Ballarat last year we went out with expressions of interest talking to cafe owners, restaurants and chefs about supporting local producers and using a minimum of three local producers within their event," Ms Davis said.
"Chefs were very supportive of using local producers but quite a number asked if there was a list and how could they find local producers in our region."
Ms Davis had already been considering a resource to link the region's farmers and food producers with those creating and eating the final product, but a call from a chef new to Ballarat cemented the idea.
"I had a chef who was new to Ballarat call me and ask for a particular ingredient. It took me half an hour of calling around to find the specific ingredient they were after - so it rang true to create this unified platform for chefs, restaurateur and consumers to find producers."
And so the idea of the Eat Drink West website, which will be supported with social media, podcasts and seasonal books, was born.
Jane Baker from Mrs Baker's Still House, who distils gin and makes liqueurs at Wimmera Hills Winery in Elmhurst, said the new site was "like a department store of boutique and craft produce and foods".
"What I love about it is it showcases all the local offerings together in one place for everybody to see - a one stop shop for finding things."
Last night's launch also allowed regional producers to network, leading to further future business opportunities.
"That networking between producers is great because so often you are doing your own thing and don't get out of your cottage industry to go and do that time making those networking and contacts."
Users can search by region, ingredient or category of produce to find what they are looking for.
"Eat Drink West makes the paddock to plate experience more innovative than ever before," Ms Davis said.
"We want people to use the Eat Drink West platform as the epicentre of primary producers as well as an educational opportunity ... to learn about the sustainable food industry that Western Victoria is home to."
The new website is eatdrinkwest.com.au
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