Bird in the Hand – Farmer and the Chef

Image source: Photographer Ian Waldie

Matt Golinski explores how important and magical it is when farmers and chefs work together.

Fast food franchises have a very successful business model which relies on everything they pay for being the absolute cheapest possible version of itself. The ingredients, the packaging, even the staff. 

Heart-warming television ads showing jovial truckies picking up a load of eggs from a farm at sunrise and delivering them direct to the ‘restaurant’ are about as realistic as the idea that the teenager flipping burgers in the kitchen made the ketchup from local vine-ripened tomatoes. No-one there knows the guy who baked the sesame seed buns, or the farmer who grew the cucumbers for the pickles. They just want it consistent, foolproof and cheap.

Not everyone’s in the food game for maximum profit, however. 

Wealth and success can be measured in many ways, and for a lot of food vendors on the coast that comes in the form of friendships, job satisfaction, pride in their product, and being part of the community.

When Peter and Chrissie Degotardi opened Bird in Noosa Junction about six months ago, all of those things were high on their list of priorities. 

They set about designing their offerings based on what they could buy locally – the chooks of course needed to be good quality, free-range and have a consistent supply. Elgin Valley chickens have been spinning in the big, smoky oven since day one, slowly roasting over a bed of locally- sourced Iron Bark charcoal.

Tanglewood Bakery provide the sourdough baguettes fresh daily to make the crunchy chicken rolls or to take home to accompany your golden roast dinner.

And there’s no point going to all that trouble and then ruining things with a bad salad, so they would need someone to supply the tomatoes who wouldn’t ever compromise on quality, whose passion for his own product would match theirs.

Enter Peter Seghers, legendary owner of Noosa Reds Tomatoes, who has built a reputation all over the coast as the man you speak to if you want tomatoes that taste the way they should. Peter and his wife Dory work tirelessly to supply restaurants and the public with sweet, perfectly-ripe, colourful tomatoes, and the Noosa Reds brand is worn as a badge of honour on the menus of all the best restaurants within a 200km radius of their home base in Doonan. 

As the oldest of four children and a third generation farmer, Peter learnt from a young age the secrets of growing the best quality produce and he is proud to supply his delicious stock to some of the Noosa’s best food outlets, as well as the public through weekly farmer’s markets and the farm gate at Doonan.  

  “It’s important more than ever to support each other,” he says. “Our customers know me by name and I know them. It’s all about quality produce, but also personalised service.

  “Contact with customers is so important, whether it’s chefs or at our farmgate,” he says. “Everyone is always welcome at the farm and we want people to know us and to be curious about where their food comes from.” 

The simplicity of what Bird offers and food knowledge is where the magic lies. A neat little package that brings together a few great local ingredients that are perfectly prepared, healthy and delicious. 

About the Author /

Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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