Proving that from little things, big things literally do grow, the 11th Scenic Rim Eat Local Week features over 125 events from 25 June to 3 July, in a joyous and flavour-filled celebration that stretches across the famous South East Queensland region.
The past decade has seen the event cement itself as one of Australia’s leading celebrations of local produce and people; a truly authentic celebration of where food comes from. And while some 40,000 people are expected to eat up the program this year, the event holds particular economic significance.
In 2019 Eat Local Week generated nearly $2million for the regional economy; no small bite given the challenges for rural and regional Australia over the past five years (read: drought, fire, flood, mice plague, covid, more flood).
Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor Greg Christensen said, “The event showcases the region as a leading destination, driving tourism, fostering community pride and generating ongoing economic benefits.”
How did this region-on-a-platter event begin? Like all good things, it started with the people who believed: in 2011 Scenic Rim Regional Council led a group of local producers, farmers and tourism operators in the first Eat Local week, as a way to shine the light on the flavours and faces of the region.
It was an event to encourage people to look to their backyard for seasonal food and pay tribute to the people who produce it. Together, they wanted to educate, inform and appetize people in a world where food provenance was waning.
That year 10 events were staged. This year, there will be 125.
What started as a food strategy for the region has grown into a booming eco-food-tourism concern that champions the concept of ‘eating local’ on a year-round basis, not just during the event.
Each year the event has grown in size and prominence. Testament to this, is the award for Outstanding Region in the prestigious Harvey Norman delicious. 2019 Produce Awards, selected by a voting panel featuring Maggie Beer, Matt Moran, Neil Perry and Guillaume Brahimi, and ‘best individual event or activity’ at the National Economic Development awards.
Importantly, Eat Local Week has been the catalyst for growth and diversification and the inspiration for exciting collaborations between producers. Think Carrot Beer, Milk Stout featuring local sheep and cow milk, beef and vegetable sausages, beetroot and carrot bread, and the award-winning Camel Milk Vodka from Summer Land Camels just to name a few!
The event was also the catalyst for the launch of the now booming Scenic Rim Farm Box business. In 2020, when lockdown measures put the bite on food festivals and country daytrips, it didn’t stop the Scenic Rim farming community. A group of local producers, supported by the Scenic Rim Regional Council and Kalfresh, launched Scenic Rim Farm Box, a ‘farm to you’ home delivery business which delivers the region’s best produce, products, wine and beer to front door – making it easy to eat local every week.
Scenic Rim Farm Box was designed to fill the 2020 Scenic Rim Eat Local Week gap caused by the COVID-19 crisis; but in reality, it effectively opened a new direct pipeline between growers and customers, one that didn’t exist previously and gave smaller batch growers in particular, great opportunity.
Serious food names support the event too. In 2015, acclaimed chef Josue Lopez was invited be the first Regional Food Ambassador. This year there’s a rollcall of 11 (fittingly) ambassador chefs, the envy of the country – Alison Alexander (Queensland Food Fellow), Ash Martin (Spicers Hidden Vale), Dan Groneberg (Kooroomba Vineyard), Brenda Fawdon (Picnic Real Food Bar), Cameron Matthews, Caroline Jones (Three Girls Skipping), Glen Barratt (Wild Canary), Javier Codina (Moda), Josh Lopez (Monstera Group), Kate Raymont (Scenic Rim Farm Shop Café) and Richard Ousby, (Sixes & Sevens and Cru Bar). Notably, none are “paid” ambassadors, all do it for the love of local produce.
Then at the end of last year, came The Lonely Planet’s inclusion of the region as one of the top 10 regions in the world to visit in 2022, with authentic food experiences a major component of the reason why.
The event and it’s yearlong philosophy has also encouraged new investment and a fertile landscape for new businesses: the acclaimed new restaurant Blume in Boonah under the culinary directorship of famed chef Jack Stuart is only 6 months old and booked for weeks ahead. The eco-luxe retreat Hazelwood Estate opened in Beechmont to national applause; flagship chef Brenda Fawdon opened Picnic Real Food at Northstores in Tamborine Mountain and stands as a major flavour champion, the wonderful eco-stay Wander @ The Overflow Estate opened at the end of 2021 and is already lauded internationally; there’s the multi award winning Herrmann House in Kalbar, and the stunning Kooroomba Vineyard’s and Lavender Farm outside Boonah that continues to bring the powerful wedding market to the region.
To that visionary group who gathered in 2011 with a seed of an idea, BRAVO, and bon appetit. Here’s a selection of long lunches and degustations that’s been curated for InQueensland readers to consider!
Find out more about Eat Local Week here.
Long Lunches and Degustations
This is what Eat Local Week is all about – decadent drawn-out dining experiences. These long lunches and degustations have been custom created by a great chef to celebrate Scenic Rim local flavours.
KALBAR-BQ Long Lunch @ Kalbar’s Showground’s Pavilion – Saturday 25 June
Jamming with the Lambs (Twilight) @ Towri – Saturday 25 June
Paddock Feast @ Hazelwood Estate – Saturday 25 June
Chef’s Table Dinner @ The Copperhead Cafe – Saturday 25 June
Longest Lunch @ O’Rielly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards – Sunday 26 June
Pinot & Picnic Lunch @ Binna Burra Lodge – Sunday 26 June
Tapas at Sunset @ Kooroomba Vineyard & Lavender Farm – Sunday 26 June
City Chef x Blume Series @ Blume Restaurant – 28 June – 1 July
Frost & Fire Dinner Series @ Mrs. Frost’s Kitchen – Wednesday 29 June
’Saluit Allo Scenic Rim’ An Italian Feast @ The Overflow Estate 1895 – Friday 1 July
Star Light Dinner @ Country Mile Escape – Saturday 2 July
Christmas in July Dinner @ Rainforest Restaurant – Saturday 2 July