Celebrating pride in provenance, at home and across borders
Spurred on by the growing Farm to Fork network – including a drive to familiarise chefs, restaurants and foodies throughout Australia with our regional produce – Renmark Club took to the eastern states for inspiration. What emerged for Head Chef Josh Hatch and General Manager Darren Baker was a reinforced drive to encourage pride in provenance – both at home and in other markets.
“Sydney is very proud of its branding and really sells specific regions. Our philosophy was already to use as much local produce as we can, and our experiences over there helped solidify that,” says Darren.
For Darren, establishing a solid brand starts with the fundamentals. “You need to learn to love yourself before anyone else can. Businesses and residents in the region need to utilise more of what is grown here.”
“Chefs in Sydney are looking for unique ingredients.” adds Josh. “They’re looking for something that sets them apart. There is an opportunity there for the region to gain a bit of a profile.”
For the Renmark Club duo, creating a brand for the region starts at home. They see the Barossa as a good example of a region benefiting from a healthy dose of local pride, something that Darren hopes to see more of in the Murraylands and Riverland.
Darren and Josh first met prominent food consultant Tanwya Bahr while she scoped out the region, looking for opportunities to bring chefs and hospitality professionals here. Inspired, Darren and Josh started planning their own recce of the Sydney food and wine landscape.
Over two days, the trio toured tapas bars, restaurants, butchers and sporting clubs.
“I wanted to expose my chefs to flavours and techniques in Sydney,” Darren says.
“The main takeaway was that we need to start selling our region a little better. That’s what our customers want.”
Darren points out that menu items highlighting local provenance are increasingly the top sellers.
“I approached my butcher in Waikerie with an idea to emulate an air dried beef dish that blew me away in Sydney,” Josh says. “What started as a one-off request has led to him sourcing a permanent supply of premium local beef.”
“Those kinds of interactions give us hope that with a little more networking, getting the growers a little more under the nose of the people bringing food in from elsewhere, that we will see more of the Riverland on menus right here.”