TV Chef, Paul West, In Residence
Back in 2014, if you asked me who Paul West was, I admit, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. River Cottage Australia had completed two seasons but I hadn’t seen a single episode. When I was told Paul was coming the Voyager Estate Food For Thought event for Gourmet Escape, I had to Google him. I learned Paul took on the challenge to become a sustainable farmer … and to add some extra complexity … to do it all under the media spotlight. One of 1,000 applicants, this Tassie boy took his then fiancée (now wife) Alicia to Central Tilba in New South Wales to work the River Cottage farm.
As a qualified chef who has worked as everything from a fruiterer, to chef at Melbourne's top-notch restaurant Vue de Monde, Paul didn’t have any gardening or media experience – two things that one would have thought helpful if embarking on a TV programme on sustainable farming. But in less than two years, Paul had transformed the 20-acre former diary property into a self-sufficient sustainable farm with livestock and a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden.
His topic at Gourmet Escape was Living off the Land, and soon the audience began firing questions at Paul, all wanting advice on how to use their gardens to grow vegetables and herbs, or how to seek out local farmers’ markets. His advice was insightful, practical and user-friendly. I became a fan.
We later asked Paul to contribute to Voyager Estate’s newsletter, MAGNUM, and this is an extract of his article.
“Our most powerful tool for affecting change in this world is right beneath our noses, literally. Our mouths and in particular the food that we put in them have an impact far beyond the dinner table. Let's use the classic Aussie dinner of meat and three veg as an example. On one hand we have a grain fed eye fillet served with steamed asparagus, mashed potato, roasted tomato and some packet gravy, all ingredients were purchased from a major supermarket. On the other hand we have some grass fed blade steak, braised in tomato passata, served with mashed potato and a green salad, all ingredients purchased from a local market or grown yourself. Both meals are nourishing and wholesome and on the surface it would appear that there's not a great deal of difference between the two, but if we dig just a little deeper and look at the journey that all the individual ingredients have taken to grace our table then we're looking at two starkly different meals.
In our busy lives it may seem too hard to be able to contribute to the future of this planet in a meaningful way, but don't be disheartened! By making small decisions like buying grass fed, secondary cuts, naturally grown, local fruit and vegetables and sharing the meals that we cook with our loved ones and friends, then our choices have an exponential impact on the world around us for the better.“
Voyager Estate shares Paul’s philosophies, with a focused effort on supporting local farmers and suppliers, utilising seasonal produce and creating our own kitchen garden which has supplied up to 90% of the vegetables in our 6-course Discovery Menu. We are delighted he has accepted our invitation to showcase his style of food for two special dinners, and I’m sure, diners who come along will walk away inspired to take a fresh look at their own gardens and purchasing habits.
Manager, Cellar Door & Direct Sales