From Farm To Fork With Michelle Barrett

From Farm To Fork With Michelle Barrett

Grab your tickets.

Author: Esperance Tide
Published: August 06, 2018

Michelle Barrett, coordinator of Taste of Esperance, has taken part in organising the upcoming Perth event, Farm2Fork. Farm2Fork is a ‘gourmet’ degustation showcasing West Australia’s finest produce. We talk to Michelle about her passion for food and educating the community about local produce.

What is your background, experience and passions within the food industry?

I am a farmer 100 km west of Esperance near Munglinup on Neds Corner. My food journey thus far has been a very organic one as I have had no formal training, but I am an avid learner and over the years have taught myself various cooking techniques through online study, learning from others and lots of trial and error. In small communities you often find yourself being asked to bring a salad or a dish to events, cook for multitudes at harvest or seeding, or whip up a lunch for ten with half an hours notice. This breeds creativity as you have to use what is on hand and I enjoy that challenge which I think has helped me develop into the cook I am today. I also like to push myself and try new things, and over the years this has to lead me to say ‘yes’ to quite a few different experiences such as flying a small plane into a remote research station to cook for 100 VIPs and helping out friends who get married in the middle of paddocks! My current passion is around education. Coming from a farming background makes me truly respect where our food comes from and what goes into producing it and I am passionate about building community understanding around this.

Can you please explain your vision/concept for Farm2Fork?

Farm2Fork is a gourmet food event held in Perth which showcases produce sourced from all over WA. One of the key objectives of Farm2Fork is to connect producers and consumers through a community food event, bringing together students and community members who through participation, gain a greater understanding of primary production, life in regional WA and issues around food wastage. It is held at Presbyterian Ladies College and a lot of the students get involved as well as community volunteers. Together we produce over 20 gourmet dishes all featuring produce grown in WA and bring the producers along to talk with those attending about what it is that they do and why.

What kind of cooking skills, produce and flavours will ticket holders expect to see?

We have some amazing produce lined up from right around the state and of course that includes some awesome Esperance occy and nannygai that Dean Wood from Taylor Street Quarters will be helping us to plate up. We also have quince glazed pork ribs from Corrigin, crispy pigs ears with nasturtium & caper tartare, Braised Dandaragan Organic Beef with horseradish powder and creamy carrot, South West trout with Jerusalem artichoke caramel, potato juice and salt lake vegetables… lets just say, I have really enjoyed putting this menu together and am very excited for people to experience it. I have read that the event incorporates a zero waste initiative. In what ways are you going to achieve that? I have been to a number of conferences through Rabobank including F20, a Food Summit held in Sydney and food wastage is often discussed as a major issue. One-third of all food produced is being wasted - around 1.3 billion tonnes - costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year. This food waste usually goes to landfill and produces 8% of the world’s greenhouse gases (the equivalent to 25% of all cars on the road). This year we wanted to help improve people’s knowledge around food wastage and are attempting to go zero waste, meaning nothing will leave the venue unless it can be recycled, composted, reused or eaten. All uneaten food from the event is given to OzHarvest to distribute to those in need. Food scraps and serveware will be composted or recycled and glasses will be reused. We will have student ‘Trash Talkers’ at the event talking with people about correct waste disposal and how to make a difference. I must admit I have already found it challenging to go zero waste for the event and have had to think about the way we prepare and store food, but hopefully, people will become more aware of the impact of food wastage and gain a greater understanding of what they can do about it.

What was your involvement in Taste of Esperance?

Just like Farm2Fork, the key objective of Taste of Esperance was community development and education. When I first ran Taste of Esperance in 2015 as part of the Festival of the Wind it was a huge task as it was an event that people had never really experience before. I was sourcing some great produce from passionate people, pulling together a heap of volunteers who had no idea what they were in for and planning a menu that was a little scary for some, but through this amazing process we all learnt so much, produced some sensational food and helped to showcase the wonderful produce we have locally. The next time we held the event in 2017, people had a greater understanding of the concept and were able to bring their own set of skills and knowledge to the table, making it even more successful and enjoyable. The greatest kick I get from events like these is watching volunteers, producers, growers, foragers and consumers all working together and learning from each other.

What are your thoughts on potential future foodie events in Esperance?

I’ve promised a lot of people a cookbook for a long time now which I am hoping to have done by next year, so no doubt we will have to put on an event to celebrate that and invite everyone along! But watch this space, there are some great people around and we have a few pots on the boil already so I am sure there will be something delicious for everyone to wrap their lips around very soon.

Farm2Fork is on Saturday, August 25 at Presbyterian Ladies College in Perth. Grab your tickets here.

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