The Chefs for the Gascoyne fundraiser, Perth

Times have been tough especially as of late for farmers and growers in the Gascoyne area. Between fires, drought and more recent devastation by Cyclone Olwyn, you can easily imagine the producers in the area are feeling the pinch. And so it was great to see that an event recently held in the Perth Cultural Centre’s Urban Orchard, Chefs for the Gascoyne, was able to raise vital funds to help them out.

On Sunday 19 April 2015 I attended the event with my best friend Carly (tickets were $150 each, though they offered us these with compliments in exchange for some promotion to get the word out). We made sure we contributed to the raffle to make up for our lack of entry purchase! 
image credit: Gascoyne Food Council
With the event opened by the Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries, the Honourable Ken Baston MLC and hosted by Verity James and celebrity gardner Josh Byrne, it was definitely an all out affair. I wasn’t actually sure what to expect but I knew that as far as foodie causes go, this was one I felt a great deal of importance towards. 

It was a great setup, with 20 chefs and more than 40 suppliers set up around the perimeter of the grounds – with an array of dishes and bites to get your tastebuds energised and engaged. I immediately realised that this event was wonderful value for money compared to others I’ve been to where you pay entry and get canapΓ©s or have to pay extra for food. This was an all out eating affair!

We started things off with crumbed sardines on salad. Fresh, salty and crisp on the outside these definitely hit the spot and were a nice welcome to the event. And while other events I’ve been to in the Urban Orchard have people as far as the eye can see, this one actually had breathing room allowing you to find a pew to munch away on easily (around 200-250 people attended).

Next up was a dish by WA’s Food Ambassador, Don Hancey – a Gourmania lobster bisque with Limeburners single malt whiskey cream on top. I loved this soup – it was decadent, extremely layered with deep flavours and not sickeningly rich. I relished every sip as it made it’s way down my throat warming me from inside out. I happily could have polished off a big bowl of this with some crusty freshly baked bread!

We swanned over towards the Poach Pear stand next which was next to Jerry Fraser shucking oysters and the beautiful Noelene from Australian Mushroom Growers. I haven’t seen her since the Breast Cancer fundraiser she organised last year so it was wonderful to have a quick chat and touch base. After all, I do love my mushies!

The spread at the Poach Pear was pretty epic – so much so that we actually had to come back towards the end just to try some extra things so we could say we gave it our best effort. I love their products, particularly their chicken liver pate (yum) and the beautiful oozy soft cheeses on the side were right up my alley.

At the centre of the event were WA locals, Whipper Snapper Distillery who were mixing up some fruity cocktails using their Crazy Uncle Moonshine. I really enjoyed the cocktail with fresh pear juice mixed in – it was sweet, slightly tart and balanced the moonshine taste. 
There were also a great range of wines on offer next door for those not so inclined to partake in something so strong. 
Our next dish we tried was my favourite for the night – a crispy Cone Bay barramundi soft taco with cabbage and cucumber salad and homemade sauces. First off that taco was on point – as soft as promised, with just the right amount of firmness to support the ingredients inside. 
The barramundi was steaming hot, flaky on the inside with just the slightest translucence. I think Cone Bay barramundi is such an incredible ingredient and it was lovely to see it used in a different way to your standard fillets. The crunch when you bit down was especially satisfying!

From Sophie Budd’s company Taste Budds we sampled two different sweet dishes – a “Carnarvon mess” with cream, banana bread, caramel sauce and bananas and a wattleseed chocolate mousse in Ora chocolate waffle cones. I thought the chocolate dish was really clever using a native ingredient, and the flavour was well balanced between bitter and sweet.

And next door to them… well there were some pretty outstanding caramelised french onion and gruyere cheese croquettes calling my name. Coming from Mayland’s venue Swallow Bar, these were another highlight of the night – crunchy, creamy and oh so dreamily decadent. I polished off the two in the serving quickly (and dreamt about going back for more all night if only I had had room in my tummy!).

We found ourselves continuing to make the rounds throughout the event and by then I stopped focussing on taking photos and just wanted to eat. The rotisserie roasted Arkady lamb may not have looked the prettiest once the meat was all scrapped from the skeleton, but it packed a punch in flavour with the flesh literally melting in my mouth. 
There were sliders and tarts, pita bread and paella. Honestly I started to find myself getting overwhelmed as my stomach’s capacity was fast filling up (since we’d come direct from another charity event at The Standard). In the end, spying the elaborate outdoor grill set up on the back of a ute, I knew that the Brazilian barbecued meat was calling my name. 

Served with a green onion sauce and potato salad, this meat was fatty and moorish – perfectly pink in the middle too! I really enjoyed the slightly smokey flavour and the simplistic taste. The meat definitely had been respected and showcased in a positive light. Something I’m sure the chefs preparing it had had in mind.

And this was really something consistent I noticed throughout the event. All the dishes were lovingly created, with WA produce used where possible. The mood was friendly, the chefs all front and centre prepared to have a chat. It seemed to foster a really positive experience by all attendees, and encourage us all to mingle while eating more and more.

image credit: Gascoyne Food Council

There really was just so much food around, and you could go back for as many servings as you like – once again reaffirming just how well organised this event was and value for money for patrons, all the while raising funds for the Gascoyne Food Council to support farmers and assist with the promotion of Carnarvon products.

Over $25,000 was raised by the event, as well as a $100,000 donation by Farmer Jack’s. With more than $10 million worth of damage to growing infrastructure and crop losses, this money will go some ways to rectifying what has happened. And for everyone who attended, I’m sure if they’re anything like me they walked away feeling full, happy and positive about what’s next to come for this produce rich area.

If you’d like to find out more about the Gascoyne Food Council or make a donation, visit their website.

image credit: Gascoyne Food Council

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  • Reply
    29 April 2015 at 6:22 am

    I heard from a friend who went to this that there was so much food they didn't get to try it all – sounds like they were most generous

  • Reply
    Queen of Bad Timing
    29 April 2015 at 7:25 am

    I definitely didn't eat enough! But what I did taste I thought was delicious πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Martine @ Chompchomp
    2 May 2015 at 8:33 am

    I was so bummed I couldn't go to this as I was in Melbourne for the weekend. You have captured the colour and emotions of the day beautifully!

  • Reply
    Queen of Bad Timing
    3 May 2015 at 11:22 am

    Thanks my love! It was a really beautiful event, I felt really amazed by the whole effort everyone put in, plus the lovely food and drink

  • Reply
    6 May 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I didn't hear about this but am aware of the hard times WA farmers have had. Sounds like a really special event!!

  • Reply
    Queen of Bad Timing
    11 May 2015 at 1:42 pm

    It was very special! So touched to have been asked to attend and help spread the word πŸ™‚

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