WE asked some of Ballarat's top chefs and winemakers about the local food and wine scene and they came up with five reasons why you should dine here.
1. A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
NAME: Donatello Pietrantuono
RESTAURANT: The Mercure and Carboni’s Pizza Kitchen
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 23
With a wealth of food knowledge from Europe and the Mediterranean, Chef Dona is one of the newest and most passionate chefs in the city’s foodscape.
“The best thing about food and produce here is the easy access to a vast variety of fresh produce and dry ingredients influenced by the demand of a multicultural population and the beauty of being part of the Australian food and beverage golden age."
2. AN EVER-EVOLVING FOOD SCENE
NAME: Damien Jones
RESTAURANT: Catfish Thai
YEARS IN INDUSTRY: 26
One half of the chef duo behind Ballarat’s hatted Catfish restaurant, Damien Jones not only has a deep love for Thai cuisine, but is armed with the knowledge that good food takes time.
“The food scene has grown so much. There are more places to eat out than ever before, and they’re all doing interesting food in great spaces. “
3. A REGION OF FINE WINE
NAME: John Harris
RESTAURANT: Mitchell Harris Wine Bar
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 27
With an intense love for all-things vino, John Harris is the co-owner of Ballarat’s beloved James Halliday five red-star rated winery.
“The Ballarat offering is increasing steadily. I love The Mallow for great craft beer and an interesting Victorian wine selection, and The Forge for a fantastic family feast. For the big night out Catfish is a must, and on a quiet weekend I love heading out to Eastern Peake winery or a little further up the road to the Pyrenees wine region.
“We have so many great spots for eating and drinking opening up all the time. There’s never been a better time to wine and dine in Ballarat.”
4. A PADDOCK TO PLATE EXPERIENCE
NAME: Pete Morrissey
RESTAURANT: The George Hotel
YEARS IN INDUSTRY: 11
With a passion for providing customers with an authentic ‘paddock-to-plate’ experience, Pete Morrissey’s motto is based on local food and local love.
“My favourite thing about this region is the paddock to plate experience. There is an exceptional quality of meat available in Western Victoria and we have the ability to source ingredients locally.
“The expanding foodie scene in Ballarat is also great as it is better for diners but also makes chefs want to work harder to become better at what they do.”
5. A CRAFT BEER SCENE
NAME: Peter Parry
RESTAURANT: Athletic Club Brewery
A (relative) newcomer to the city's food and drink scene, Ballarat's Peter Parry knows how important it is to accompany a good meal with a good brew.
“Ballarat has had a strong history in beer brewing for quite some time and I think we are starting to see a resurgence in the interest in getting back to a local product and it has been great to see. The region has had a good acceptance as a quality provider of wine and food for some time now and now with beer alongside to compliment food and a strong alternative to wine at the table, I feel that Ballarat provides a high quality experience for not only its local residents but a reason to attract others to our region.
"Definitely Ballarat has the history and capability to become a major destination for craft beer within the state and across Australia as well. "
The above chefs are being featured as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Longest Lunch, taking place on March 31 at The George laneway. For the full chef line-up, click here.