Our Producers

Central Victoria has developed in leaps and bounds over the last five years. The new generation of farmers, who are producing high quality products, are adopting new farming methods with the focus on quality rather than quantity; they are the stars of our menu. Its an exciting time to be a part of Central Victoria, and in particular Bendigo, with the evidence of a growing food & wine trend.

Food Gold can now be found right in the heart of Bendigo, Inglewood, Tooborac, Heathcote, Boort and Harcourt to name a few.  We are continually searching for quality local produce found within 100 miles to showcase on our menu.  Know of someone producing amazing things? Let us know so we can be in touch!

Nick plating a dish

 

Warialda Belted Galloway Beef

Warialda Belted GallowaysPassionate about farming and food but frustrated with traditional methods of selling cattle through the saleyards, Allen and Lizette Snaith decided to think outside the square. They began selling sides of beef to local and Melbourne families and the exceptional feedback sparked what has become Warialda Belted Galloway Beef. 

At Warialda our cattle are grazed entirely on grass for the duration of their lives. This gives our meat exceptional flavour, colour and texture when it reaches your plate. Plus, the cows live a happy life out in the open, as a herd.

'The combination of rich flavour, strong intra-muscular marbling and dry aging is what makes our beef unique and delicious.' 

Thirty years of experience in breeding top quality Belted Galloway stud cattle has led to a genetic predisposition in the herd to produce marbling in the beef and consistency in the carcasses. 

The carcass is hung in quarters for a minimum of three weeks in a chilled environment before it is broken down into muscle groups. This dry-aging process encourages natural enzymes to break down connective tissues in the muscles, creating tenderness in the meat as a result. This method of aging is proven to generate more appealing and concentrated flavours through the evaporation of moisture during the process. 

Warialda Beef Carpaccio featured in The New York Times 2014.

Photo courtesy of Tom Blanchford.

Warialda Beef Carpaccio compressed

 

Simply Green Tomatoes

With almost thirty years of Lanyon's growing tomatoes, Marilyn developed many recipes from red and green tomatoes. But, there was one stand out favourite for family and friends –Simply Green Tomatoes. So after extensive market research domestically and overseas, Ian and Marilyn began Simply Tomatoes journey in 2002.

The family finished supplying the processing factories and became not only the grower, but the manufacturer and the marketer of their specialty green tomato products; selling to the global market directly from their farm at Boort in Central Victoria. 

With the development of farming technology, one acre of tomatoes grown with chemical free drip irrigation uses 30% less water than flood irrigation and produces 40 to 60 tonnes per acre. Processing is undertaken in a modern factory located on the farm with a very large underground storage facility providing a cool and stable environment for the storage of bulk product. Maximising use of local resources, assist in minimising our carbon footprint. 

The green tomatoes are hand picked and within the hour start their four day process of being preserved in a salt and vinegar brine and finished off in extra virgin olive oil, oregano and garlic. From the tomato seed to the end user, every step is overseen by the Lanyon family. The Simply Tomatoes product range is gluten free, have no artificial colour, flavour or preservatives. 

Providing the balance of acidity in George's filled and fried zucchini flowers.

Georges tempura fried zucchini flowers compressed

Salute Oliva

salute oliva

Nestled between two lakes in Boort, central Victoria, is Salute Oliva, a family-owned olive grove. It is where Marlies and Peter Eicher produce first class extra virgin olive oil and a variety of award-winning table olives. The trees on the grove are grown organically and the olive pickling and pressing process is all natural.

The Eichers pay a great amount of attention to their olives and olive oils, ensuring uncompromising standards are adhered to and the products are of the highest quality. The grove is run sustainably, with a zero waste policy. Nothing is wasted here – processing waste is used as organic mulch and any oil that doesn’t make the extra virgin cut is turned into soap.

Marlies and Peter’s efforts were rewarded at the 2010 Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards – their semi-dried Kalamata and Frantoio oil were winners. Also awarded last year at the Royal Melbourne Show – Gold and Champion Trophy for their kalamata olives and Silver Medals for their semi-dried olives, manzanillo olives and extra virgin olive oil.

Visitors are welcome to experience the grove and gain an insight into the olive business, and learn about sustainable olive farming. May and June are an optimum time for a farm visit as olives are picked, brined and pressed into Extra Virgin Olive Oil.                             

Salute Oliva Farm Tour 2015 Quality of Olives           

 

Locheilan Cheese

 

Locheilan cheesesGrowing up in Melbourne and Geelong respectively, Sue and Bruce worked in the city for several years whilst living on a hobby farm in Kilmore.  Loving the farm convinced them to go farming full time, so they bought a small place in Katunga milking 75 cows. Four years and three children later they decided to move to a larger farm.

Locheilan was purchased in 1984, milking 123 cows. Gradually developing the pastures by laser grading the land and resowing with newer grass species.

Their multi award winning cheeses are always a favourite, especially the Bruce's Blue and Locheilan Triple Brie!

Other styles include:Broken Blue; sharp and spicy when young, developing a lovely soft texture with piquant flavours as it ages. Kulindi; a semi-hard cheese matured for a minimum of 4 months in the style of an English Cheshire crumbly. Fetta; gold medal winning soft and creamy fetta, made from whole milk collected in the morning and stored in brine. 

Meet and talk cheese with Sue at the monthly Bendigo Community Farmers Market, the 2nd Saturday of each month at Sidney Myers Place, Pall Mall.

Locheilan compressed

Always a crowd pleaser, select from a range of delicious hand made cheeses.

Mt Zero 

Favourite Flavours

Steve is the artisan maker behind all of our 'Favourite Flavours' at Masons. Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Pomegranate Sorbet, Harcourt Apple Sorbet, Christmas Pudding Ice Cream,Cinnamon Ice Cream and many, many others. Churned fresh to order, Steve's skill shines through in his ability to create a vaste array of flavours for our ever changing dessert menu, sourcing ingredients from Bendigo and local surrounds.

Enjoy as part of our desserts or visit him at his store opposite Lake Weeroona and choose from the many seasonal flavours. 

Masons Dessert Tasting Plate  

 

 

 

Favourite Flavours ice cream takes centre stage on the Masons Dessert Tasting Plate

Michel’s Fine Biscuits

Michel's story….

 

I started my Biscuit business in 2002 but I think my real passion for baking began as a child baking with my mum for our family of 7. Our lunchboxes were always full of yummy home made treats, biscuits, slices and cakes and we all had our favourites.

There is something about creaming butter and sugar together that makes my heart sing, as a child mum would let me lick the bowl & beater of the “Sunbeam” and then the new “Kenwood chef”, these days the bowl is just a tad too big for such things but those wonderful childhood memories remain.

When I met Bill in 1985 and moved to Castlemaine, weekends were all about baking for his lunch box and the week ahead, being the sweet tooth he was he would love hanging out in the pantry after a weekend bake off and testing all the goodies. His parents would quite often visit on a Sunday and I would whip up scones, jam and cream and have a nice cup of tea or bring out the passionfruit sponge, again life’s wonderful memories are often sharing beautiful food with family and friends.

Michels-Fine-Biscuits-70

The Biscuits…..

I’m a purist by nature and we make all our mixes in small batches and use the very best fresh ingredients. I believe exceptional ingredients make exceptional biscuits and that our ingredients are our real heroes. We source local lemons, raspberries and blackberries with so much of our ingredients coming directly from our accredited farmers markets which include free range eggs, salts, extra virgin olive oil, organic rosemary and some nuts and berries. The majority of our ingredients are sourced from Victoria except our passionfruit and macadamia’s which are Queensland grown and our almonds which are from S.A., all are of exceptional quality. We love the Belgian Couverture Chocolate (Callebaut) which is incredible to use, simply the most delicious flavor on the pallet and gives our biscuits that WOW factor that we’re so well known for.

B & B Basil

Our relationship with George & Jan, owners of B & B Basil began 10 years ago when we owned and operated The Bridge, Bendigo.  Nick would take the short drive out to ‘The sheds (the hot houses) & have lengthy discussions with George on how he used the herbs & which varieties & sizes worked best for him. The micro herbs were a staple ingredient on our dishes.

Nick at the herb farm compressedComing back to Bendigo six years later, its’ wonderful to see a thriving, multi-million dollar business with George’s micro herbs showcased on popular TV cooking shows & on top end restaurant menus around Australia & abroad.

Since opening, Nick visits the farm each morning to select his day's bounty of zucchini flowers, micro herbs and edible flowers. Microgreens used include Thai basil, Greek basil, purple basil, flat parsley, watercress, mizuna, coriander & shiso.

Georges tempura fried zucchini flowers compressedDuring the warmer months, George's filled and fried zucchini flowers are a popular addition to the menu.

 

Custom Coffees

 

Custom Coffees is nestled in the historic Mayfair Park Estate in East Bendigo.

They are regional Victoria’s first coffee roaster and have been in operation for more than ten years; providing great coffee for commercial & domestic use.

More than fifty high quality single origin beans are sourced from around the globe to produce the broad range of complex blends, some of which are also Fairtrade organic coffees.

On offer is a range of coffees to suit most tastes and brewing methods.

The moment you step inside their door you are engulfed in the aroma of the coffee. It is well worth the visit to their factory outlet at 165a Strickland Road, East Bendigo.

Mason’s Blend is a collaboration between ourselves and the Master Roaster at Custom Coffees.

custom coffee

Holy Goat Cheese

Sutton Grange Organic Farm, where the award winning Holy Goat Cheese is produced, has a clear vision.

'Sutton Grange Organic Farm is an expression of loving and giving between people and animals, acting as a launching pad for many possibilities.

It reflects our courage to pursue our dreams in a way that respects and contributes to the well being of the natural environment.'

Holy Goat Cheese, made by Carla Meurs and Ann-Marie Monda, is situated on a farm east of Castlemaine. As the name suggests, and as the quality of the cheese reflects; they have a respect and care for the natural environment as well as the health and well being of their herd. The cheeses are hand made using traditional French techniques to produce 100% certified organic goat’s cheese. 

 

Showcased on our beetroot gnocchi dish is the Holy Goat Fromage Frais.  

Fresh cheeses include Fromage Frais, Silk and Black Silk. They are the simplest form of cheese, are not matured and so rely on the quality of the milk for their flavour. Holy Goat is certified organic with NASAA, using milk from our own herd of goats. The goats are fed organic feed and free range over approximately 200 acres. The fresh cheeses are a true indicator of the milk quality and this is reflected in the quality of the cheese.

Fresh cheeses have a high moisture content and low salt content and are sweet and citrus to taste which compliments perfectly with the earthy flavour of the beetroot.

beetroot gnocchi compressed 

Inglewood Dry Aged Beef

Word of mouth is a power tool, particularly in the country where everyone tends to know someone from somewhere.  Sometimes you shudder hearing the latest gossip or who’s doing what and going where, but not so in the case of finding our meat supplier, James and Pat from Inglewood Aged Beef, with Meats on Brooke being the name of their butcher shop. A chance meeting with an old friend at the local hardware store gave Nick a new lead.  Into the car and off to Inglewood to see what the locals were raving about.

From Bendigo, Inglewood is a town on the drive up the A79 to Mildura, taking approximately 40 minutes from Bendigo city centre.  James and Pat have transformed the local butcher shop, replacing just about everything, in order to accommodate the process of dry aging whole carcass.  Approximately $8,000 worth of meat can be hanging at one time in the temperature controlled cool room & with the butcher shop out front, anyone can pop by and pick up some tasty meat for their next barbeque or evening meal.  Its not uncommon for Bendigo folk to make the weekly journey for their meat – that is the strength of quality in their meat.

We are delighted to showcase their beef & lamb on our menu, as well as their sourced duck & quail.

ribeye compressedInglewood dry aged beef is Victoria’s only 28 day, whole dry aged, grass fed, Belgium Black Angus beef.  

You may find on our menu a 500g rib eye steak for two (pictured), grilled and served with peppercorn butter and red wine jus or salt-bush smoked Rockwood Cottage lamb rump, crispy belly, croquettes, pickles, charred onions. All beef and lamb has been sourced from surrounding farms.  

Find out more about them at http://agedbeef.com.au/about-us-and-aged-beef

 

McIvor Farms

McIvor Farm is a half hour drive from Heathcote, in the town of Tooborac. Jason & Belinda are third generation farmers on this property and have renovated and live in the original homestead. The old butcher shop Jason’s grandfather operated and ran is now their retail store. They have kept some of the original pieces of equipment and records from that time which further enrich the story of the farm.
We were excited when Belinda and Jason invited us to visit the farm (although the kids were a little reluctant at first) to hear their story and see the farm first hand. They are extremely passionate farmers who respect not only their pigs, but the land on which the pigs graze. The pigs roam free and are moved every 2-4 days to prevent denuding of the soil. The paddocks are then allowed to rest for up to 6 months to allow natural regeneration of the soil & plants. Their choice of farming practices and passion resonate in the end product. The pork is tender, juicy and has a fuller flavour than what you would usually find. We’re very excited to be using their product.

McIvor Farm Belinda explaining soilsYou can buy their tasty pork at a number of Farmers Markets, including The Bendigo Community Farmers Market, or shop online at http://www.mcivorfarmfoods.com.au/

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PepperGreen Farm

Only a short walk from Lake Weeroona, and close to the Joss House, PepperGreen Farm is a tucked away community park for horticulture & environmental education as well as preserving the culture of Bendigo past.  This was originally the site of the Chinese market garden with a recent discovery of a Chinese kiln dating back to 1859.

The farm is now run by Access Employment, an agency encouraging local people with disabilities into the workforce.  After driving past one day & noticing the farm, Nick phoned the agency and arranged a meeting with Ros, the farm’s horticultural co-coordinator. The family was invited out to see what was growing and to meet the team.  The kids had the opportunity to pick zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, radish & daikon.  Long rows of rhubarb were growing as well as eggplant & we discussed the possibility of them growing and supplying our restaurant with vegetables – all organically grown.  As it is a not for profit organization, we offered to donate the seeds for them to plant & nurture until ready for harvest.

Produce varies according to the seasons and availability. Access Employment also run a catering arm and sell weekly veg bags to the wider community to promote healthy eating. Produce may include: eggplant, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, herbs, pumpkin, squash, rhubarb, pears & apples.

'Pepper-Green Farm tomato and French bean salad, black olive butter, brioche crumbs' 

bean salad compressed

 For more information http://www.accessemployment.com.au/

Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken

In central Victoria there is a small farm which bases its farming systems on keeping in balance with nature and improving the biological health of the soils.

Yapunyah is a 415 acre property in Graytown, a small locality in Central Victoria. Surrounded by the Heathcote-Graytown National Park, Ian and Mandy McClaren were drawn to this property 8 years ago.

“I loved the fact that it reminded me of the farm I grew up on below the Kinglake Ranges, it too was surrounded by National Park” explains Mandy.

“We named our property Yapunyah after a eucalypt species we saw on a friend’s property North of Bourke in North Western NSW. Yapunyah trees only grow in the Cuttaburra  basin and Paroo river system in North West NSW. Yapunyah trees have the most stunningly beautiful bronze coloured trunks that glow in the sunlight. A unique and beautiful tree just like our unique and beautiful property” describes Mandy McClaren

Ian and Mandy, with their sons Darby 8 and Bryce 5, grow chickens, pigs and beef on their property. The Chickens are the main part of their farming business ‘Yapunyah Meadow Grazed’ and are sold at Farmers Markets, to restaurants and to small providores and select butchers.

Yapunyah is based on the US Farmer Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm. Joel Salatin is getting quite a following and has been featured as ‘the natural farmer’ in Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ and the documentary movie ‘Food Inc.’. Joel’s holistic farming systems are well documented in his books and use the animals own physiological nature to help improve the soil health, fertility and production on the farm. Joel uses cell grazing for his beef herd, he follows the beef herd with egg laying chickens in mobile ‘tractors’. Free-range pigs are used to ‘plough’ the ground that needs aeration and Polyface uses large cages moved daily through the pasture to grow broiler chickens and fertilise his pastures.

Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chickens is set up in much the same way. Ian and Mandy cell graze their cattle in wagon-wheel systems with two hectare cells around a central water point. In the early years, they fenced off the both sides of the creek (approximately 2 km of fencing) to protect the creek from the cattle. 

The small herd of Berkshire pigs are used to turn over the crusted soils that often form in the soils surrounding Box ironbark forests. After the pigs have moved through, the soils are aerated and have much better water holding capacity.

The broiler chickens are grown in a brooder shed until they are big enough and covered in feathers and able to cope outside

‘We believe that healthy food comes from healthy animals grown on healthy plants that grow on healthy soils’ explains Ian. ‘We have farmed this property biologically for the past ten years’

Mandy and Ian have been involved in Landcare for many years and helped start the Graytown-Costerfield Landcare Group. They believe farming can be in balance with nature. Yapunyah is registered with Land for Wildlife and Ian and Mandy are also supporters of the Whroo Goldfields Conservation Management Network (CMN).

Sharing the knowledge

Ian and Mandy were delighted to be able to host Joel Salatin for one night during his visit to Shepparton in August 2011. Joel is a kind and gracious man who was happy to have a tour and see some of the adaptations of his system in Australia.

In February this year, Ian and Mandy were happy to be able to share their experiences and knowledge with other farmers in a Field Day held at Yapunyah with Joel’s son and Polyface Farm Manager, Daniel Salatin. The Field Day was organised by Regenerative Farming Educator, Darren Doherty and had farmers from as far as South Australia and Western Australia in attendance.

Soil health

Mandy and Ian believe soil health is integral to the production of good food. Shortly after purchasing Yapunyah in 2005 they tested the soils which resulted in spreading 1.75 tonnes/hectare of lime and trace elements across most of the 415 acres. During their eight years on the property they have also tried compost teas and other natural inputs, however it is the response from grazing and then moving their egg-laying chickens around their orchard that had the most impact and started them on the journey with the broiler chickens.

As Ian explains, “The orchard just seemed to take off in terms of fertility after the chickens had been moved through. There was one phalaris plant that was nearly as tall as me (180cm)” 

“Even today, some 12-18months after the laying chickens have been moved from the orchard, the soil is still spongey underfoot and has vastly improved water holding capacity.”

“So we thought that if this can be achieved on a small scale then why not on a larger scale out in the paddocks” continues Ian “So Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chickens was born.”

Yapunyah was also one of three properties used for the Federally funded farm trials ‘Convention vs Innovation’. These trials saw the cell grazing of two hectare cells on nine different natural treatments

The challenges of working with nature

Running a farm  surrounded by National Park also has its challenges, from the hundreds (literally) of kangaroos that want to graze on the pastures every day to the wedge-tailed eagles, brown falcons and whistling kites that would love to get their claws on the chickens and turkeys.

Ian and Mandy knew from the beginning the kangaroos would always be a challenge so they bought the biggest electric fence unit they could and fenced most of the property with electric fencing. Low offset wires help to discourage the female kangaroos from coming under the fences into the paddocks.  It doesn’t stop all of the kangaroos but it has helped to reduce the grazing pressure from these marsupials.

With regards to the birds of prey, Ian and Mandy love having them around, however they acknowledge they could not run the broiler chickens out in the open air as they would be quickly picked off by these larger predators. A keen amateur twitcher, Ian has kept a record of all the birds identified on the property, at present count Ian has identified eighty different birds, including emus, powerful owls, yellow-tufted honeyeaters and a nesting pair of brown falcons.

For more information on Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chickens head to the Bendigo Community Farmers Market, Lancefield Farmers Market, Flemington Farmers Market or Fairfield Farmers Market and say hello to Ian and Mandy.

yapunyah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camboar Goat

Camboar Goat Ian and RuthOne of our most popular larger dishes on the menu is 'Spit roasted Camboer goat shoulder, smoked hommus, freeken, tabbouleh, wild figs, tzatziki.'  The goat is slow cooked overnight in a rich stock resulting in a flavourful, melt in the mouth experience. 

Camboer Beor Goat Stud is located on the Campaspe River approximately 2 kilometres south of Echuca and 2.5 hours drive from Melbourne.

The stud is owned and managed by Ian Turpin who began breeding Boer goats in 2000.

His mission statement is simple, 'To consistently breed the best boer goats in Australia.' Something we believe he has achieved and maintained over the past two years since he began supplying us.

Try cooking some goat at home by purchasing meat direct from Ian and Ruth at the Bendigo Community Farmers Market held every 2nd Saturday of the month at Sidney Myers Place, Pall Mall. Ask Ian for some cooking tips – with such a low fat content it's easy to over cook certain cuts. This also means the meat is a healthier alternative to other red meat. You'll be pleasantly suprised by it's flavour!

goat kataifi

Another favourite on the menu, 

'Baked Camboar goat & pinenut kataifi cigar, Meredith sheep’s milk yoghurt'