Country Chef of the Year and the Friday List


Country Style magazine has just announced the 2013 Chef of the Year - congratulations to winner Gary Cooper. Whoot whoot. To celebrate, we asked the winner and a bunch of finalists to nominate their favourite local ingredients - in season right now. And below their responses is a brief Friday List.

We really look forward to hearing more about Gary and one day soon, visiting his beautiful restaurant, Bella Vedere. And thank you to photographer Sharyn Cairns for the above images. They were published in the current (December) issue of Country Style, which features  a beautiful collection of recipes from Gary himself.

Gary Cooper
Bella Vedere, Coldstream, Victoria
Right now I’m loving Siobhan Simpson’s Garlic from Hoddles Creek. Siobhan supplies us with garlic scapes, the young flower tips that taste a little like samphire once cooked. I also love the purple bulbs, they peel with ease, there’s no green centre and the cloves are so sweet.  I’m also cooking my own asparagus from the Bella Vedere garden. We have waited for two years for this crop and can now pick just minutes before the customers get to eat them. Yeringberg Lamb is grown only two paddocks away from Bella Vedere, I’m loving Oragnic Empire (also just down the road) and their fennel and cavolo nero.

Cameron Matthews
The Long Apron, Montville, Queensland
There are two ingredients that I am fascinated by at the moment and both are "local". First up are, the roses that we grow in our garden here. We pickle, dehydrate and crystallise them to infuse our house made vinegars. The second is becoming a kind of signature ingredient for us - Glasshouse snails. They are fantastic braised and served with vichyssoise, roasted & marinated leeks, morcilla, apple aioli and heaps of different herbs from our garden - including roses!

Tony Worland
Tonic, Millthorpe, NSW
Asparagus and strawberries are great at the moment - just not on the same plate.

Annie Smithers
Annie Smithers’ Bistrot and Produce, Kyneton, Victoria
Late spring early summer is a very special time in our kitchen garden. I'm loving doing a bantam egg spaghettini with peas, broad beans and asparagus on a soft white garlic purée. And for the funny old Francophile in me, I can't go past strawberry crepes made with my Cambridge rival strawberries and vanilla ice cream made from my australorps eggs.

Craig Wills
Stillwater, Tasmania
The ingredient that I am loving at the moment and have been since I discovered it almost 2 years ago is Robbins Island Grass fed Wagyu. Produced by John Hammond on his farm in the far North East of Tasmania, the cattle have been fed entirely on grass, which in my mind produces a far superior flavour and texture.  I like to use the oyster-blade which is located under the shoulder, it contains a lot of sinew, but if you have the time to remove it, the oyster-blade is the most tender of all the cuts of beef. 

David Swains
Fino, Willunga, South Australia
I'm currently loving wild mulloway from the Coorong, and am serving it as a mulloway ceviche with corn and celery hearts.

The Friday List

Some Christmas-y links for the weekend...


  1. I've been to Bella Vedere and it's GREAT! You will LOVE it, Sophie!!!

  2. all sounds lovely... well except for 'peas, broadband and asparagus'.....? that doesn't sound that appetising.... ;)


local is lovely All rights reserved
Design + Development by Ana Degenaar