Growing up in his parents' restaurant, José Fernández was always around food, wine and culture - elements that contributed significantly to his identity. And while food was always his passion, it was not something he initially considered pursuing as a career.
“I first chose to explore different creative avenues like biology and photography, but my love of food and cooking for friends and family drew me back. It was actually after returning to Spain five years ago, that I was once again inspired by food and couldn’t wait to return to Australia to start my own food dream – José says.
The head chef and owner of Ballarat's Meigas certainly exudes this passion for food and the shared dining experience, with Meigas focusing on the Spanish tapas style of dining – a shared experience, with shared plates, shared meals and shared conversations. José emphasises that “the Meigas experience isn’t solely about the food, but also the environment that we have created” - think simple, fresh food in a lively and eclectic setting.
Although only being in Ballarat the last five years, José and Meigas have definitely been a part of Ballarat’s changing culinary offerings, bringing the flavours of Spain to the city and encouraging people to try the shared dining experience.
Next month, in collaboration with The Local Cafe, José will take this concept further with the event The Shared Table, held as part of Plate Up Ballarat. “It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people. We will be showcasing a little bit of Spain, with a menu that combines the best of Meigas’s rustic style dishes with The Local's outstanding dessert offerings,” José explains.
“Both The local and Meigas share the thought of a shared collaborative dining experience, so this really inspired us both to get together and create something unique that people will remember."
Held in The Local laneway, the event will aim to bring people together over good local food. Their menu will highlight a variety of different local producers such as Country Style Smallgoods, Harmony Garlic, Tuki Lamb, Adsum Farmhouse, The Cottage Herbalist, Natasha Morgan Preserves, Inglenook Dairy and Enbom Honeys, further shining a spotlight on Ballarat's culinary offerings.
The Shared Table will be held on May 21 and is part of the month-long food and wine festival – Plate Up Ballarat. Be sure to check out all the events on offer and book your tickets today.