Top chefs visit Murraylands

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Murraylands food tour prompts chefs to challenge menus and minds

After spending a few days on the road in the Murraylands, immersing themselves in the freshest local food and produce, two globally renowned chefs are changing their menus and preparing to challenge people’s food perceptions.

Mark Best (Marque, Netflix’s The Final Table) and Duncan Welgemoed (Africola) are revered across the world for their fearless and passionate approach to food. Just last month, the pair pulled off one of the most sensational 300-head Tasting Australia events on record in the Riverland, and now they’re ready for their next big thing.

During their recent Murraylands visit, they fell in love with the people and the products across the region, and now they’re urging other chefs around Australia to explore our untapped region.

But it wasn’t just your traditional farmers they spent time with – it was everyone from the young family who had changed their riverfront cattle dairy to a buffalo farm, and the olive oil producers who travel the world to bring back the best technology for processing. It was the eco-Coorong fishers who drive more sustainable catches, and the local cook creating meals to support farmers during fruit and vegetable gluts.

Mark and Duncan’s collective goal was to mentor local businesses and producers and “uncover some gems” along the way. They never expected the Murraylands produce and its people to have such a big impact on them.
Following on from his visit, Duncan has already started work on his new Murraylands inspired dishes at his award-winning restaurant Africola – including a salt and pepper carp sourced from Coorong Wild Seafood, buffalo meat from the SA Buffalo Company and anything to feature his new favourite, Rio Vista olive oil.

“This produce is absolutely world class, and I think pretty soon I’ll have more Murraylands and Riverland produce on my menu than any other restaurant in Australia,” Duncan said.

“Our perceptions have been smashed this week, and I can’t believe this food is sitting on my doorstep.

“More chefs need to visit this area, because the diversity and quality that exists in the Murraylands is absolutely incredible. There shouldn’t be any reason for a South Australian chef to import products when we have this place.

“In particular what stands out is the carp and how beautiful it is to eat, how flexible it is to use as an ingredient. People have this misconception that it’s ‘muddy’, but it’s not at all when you treat it right. It belongs on every Australian menu in my opinion – and as chefs we can make a positive impact to the environment by doing this.

“Also, what Rio Vista are doing at Mypolonga, is arguably the cleanest process of working with olive oil in the world, and I’m using it anywhere I can from right now.”

Duncan was also impressed by the natural experiences, and wants to bring his family back for a holiday.

“The beauty of the Murraylands really took my breath away. The dark sky reserve was just magic and the cultural experience at Ngaut Ngaut blew my mind. If I was coming from outside of SA, I would beeline to that region in a heartbeat, it’s just so rich.”

Media contacts:
Julie Bates – |M: 0458 505 169 |E: jbates@rdamr.com.au

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