Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine

  • Chefs who cook with their heart will use fresh local and seasonal produce and they understand that the produce is at its’s best when it is in season.
  • Markets are now supplying the majority of fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables to our restaurants.
  • Our local markets are intricately involved in the evolution of the culinary Aussie Cuisine.

by Carolina Holzmeister

Australian leading chefs are increasingly aware of where their produce comes from. The trend of employing locally sourced, organic and seasonal produce, as well as adopting the use of sustainable and ethical farming practices, is influencing the decision of Aussie chefs and restauranteurs when sourcing their produce. The concept of produce from ‘paddock to plate’, which involves the partnership between chefs, farmers and providores showcases the best produce offered in the Australian restaurant scene, is further investigated in the Produce section.

According to Julio Azzarello (Holzmeister, 2016), a veteran in the hospitality industry who currently works at Gourmand Providore as client liaison: “chefs that care and cook with both their heads and their hearts will always use fresh local and seasonal produce. They understand that the produce is at its best when it is in season and when it is grown ethically and in the closest proximity to the end user. Fruit and vegetables in peak season will always be more cost effective and be more flavoursome than imported produce”. Imported produce is mostly seen in Australian restaurant menus when regional goods are out of season. In this case, its complexity of flavours and freshness are reduced and imported produce can be an overpriced option compared to abundant and affordable seasonal local goods.

The farmer's markets offer plenty of produce for chefs

The farmer’s markets offer plenty of produce for chefs

While a few goods can be outsourced directly from farms, the majority of chefs in Sydney rely on their providores who source fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood from the main local markets, the Sydney Produce Market and the Sydney Fish Market. The Sydney Produce Market at Flemington is regarded as ‘the largest fresh fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Australia’ (2016), while the Sydney Fish Market is considered ‘the largest seafood market in the southern hemisphere’ (2016). These markets both supply the majority of fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables either via the providores or directly to the Sydney based restaurants and beyond.

In terms of the customers’ profiles at the Sydney Produce Market, the stallholders supply fruit and vegetables to providores or wholesalers, which supply to restaurant and bars. On the other hand, there are customers at the market who purchase fruit and vegetables from the stallholders for food outlets, which can be either large grocery chains or smaller grocery shops. Furthermore, there is a number of individual customers who buy directly from the stallholders. The Sydney Fish Market employs an efficient auction system based on the Dutch tulip auction, which starts from 5:30 am onwards during the week, except on public holidays. The auction system allows the purchase of over 1000 crates an hour and on average a staggering number of 50 to 55 tonnes of either farmed or wild seafood are sold every day at this market. On a typical auction day, there are more than 100 different species of seafood available to be purchased. The seafood buyers, who must be registered prior to the auction, supply to big retail outlets and smaller fish shops, which supply to restaurants.

While a few goods can be outsourced directly from farms, the majority of chefs in Sydney rely on their providores who source fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood from the main local markets

The local markets are intricately involved in shaping the Aussie cuisine. Unusual fruit and vegetables varieties, as well as Australian native varieties, can now be sourced at regional providores. Sydney chefs have the choice to incorporate Australian native plants, also known as bush food, into their dishes – please refer to the Indigenous Food paddock for more information on native ingredients. A plethora of fresh seafood sourced from the Australian fish markets gives more options to chefs who adjust the menu according to the availability of fresh produce. It has never been a better time for Australian chefs, who have the advantage of sourcing their ingredients from a plate full of various seasonal produce at regional providores and markets.

References:

Holzmeister, C. (12 September 2016). Interview with Julio Azzarello. Online.

Sydney Markets – Overview. (20 July 2016)  Retrieved from http://www.sydneymarkets.com.au/markets/produce-market/product-market-overview.html

Sydney Fish Market – Our Company. (20 July 2016) Retrieved from http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/our-company/our-company