Calling all foodies, it’s time to treat your tastebuds
CELEBRITY chef Alastair McLeod is calling on Queenslanders to throw their support behind the Lockyer Valley’s many farmers who have spent years battling Mother Nature’s different woes by taking a tour of the struggling region.
The past decade has brought much heartache to many of the Lockyer Valley’s primary producers, many of whom have almost reached their breaking point following years of relentless weather.
From deadly flood waters which tore through Grantham in 2011 leaving a trail of destruction, to the more recent drought and bushfires that left the bone dry landscape scorched and cracked, residents of the Lockyer Valley have had to dig deep repeatedly to ensure their small communities and livelihoods continue to thrive.
Alastair is calling on those from the big smoke to fuel up the cars, grab the Esky and treat their tastebuds to an array of flavours in the now luscious green hills.
“These producers out here are really doing it tough, and what they need is for people to come and visit them, taste their food, dine at their tables, sleep in their beds, shop in their businesses, and eat in their cafes so they can survive,” Alastair said.
“Food tourism is such a burgeoning industry. People really do travel with their stomachs in mind.”
Nestled below Toowoomba at the bottom of the range, the Lockyer Valley is a two-hour drive from the Gold Coast, 90 minutes from the Brisbane CBD, and less than a 30 minute cruise from Ipswich.
The region is a vibrant mixture of town and country living, full of top class restaurants, farm experiences, B & Bs, art galleries, unique gift shops, beautiful parks, country markets and more.
Alastair has been a big advocate for the Lockyer Valley since he was named as a food ambassador for the region in 2014.
He has worked closely with a number of farmers, growers and tourism operators to help shine a light on the region which produces some of the country’s tastiest and mouth-watering food.
Not only does he showcase the region’s produce in his own commercial kitchen, but he also boasts about the Lockyer Valley at popular events like the Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show, Regional Flavours and the Brisbane Ekka.
“I’ve worked closely with the Lockyer Valley Regional Council to shine a light on their food heroes, the real stars of the show, for a number of years,” Alastair said.
“It’s a very natural golf swing for me to work with the people of the Lockyer Valley.
“If I was to lift my career and drop it into the Margaret River or the Daintree, I would draw from that panoply of ingredients. But as it is my business is here, so it makes sense that the tastiest food to be found is close to where you are standing at any given point, and it’s a really good fortune to have a resource such as the Lockyer Valley at my doorstep.”
The Brisbane-based chef, well known for his appearances on the reality television cooking show Ready Steady Cook, recently spent two days in the Lockyer Valley with journalists, food bloggers, social media influencers and representatives from Tourism and Events Queensland. The food extraordinaire visited a variety of producers including Porters Plainland Hotel, Schulte’s Meat Tavern, Awassi Cheesery, 9Dorf Farms, The Barn and Scotty’s Garage, the Floating Cafe in Grantham, Branell Homestead, Cafe 4342, Native Oz Bushfoods and Fordsdale Horseback Adventures.
With more people wishing to learn about sustainable farming, and where their produce comes from, Alastair described a day trip or weekend to the Lockyer Valley as the ultimate farm gate to plate experience, and the chance to say hello to a true-blue Aussie farmer.
“There’s a whole raft of reasons to know where your produce has come from. This connection and joining of the dots from your plate back to where the product came from is a profound conversation because it impacts you,” he said.
“By putting a face to the person who produces your food, it makes you feel obligated to seek out and use more.
“My feeling is, the Lockyer Valley’s best days are ahead of it, so being able to stitch together an itinerary that is coherent, that gives you an overarching, holistic picture of what the region is, will give you a greater appreciation and will make you go home and reflect and digest.
“We have to use it before we lose it.”
Be sure to read more stories about primary producers from the Lockyer Valley in the Queensland Times over the coming weeks.
To start planning your journey to the Lockyer Valley, log onto www.luvyalockyer.com.au.