Straight To The Source is the brainchild of Australian food experts Tawnya Bahr and Lucy Allon, each of whom have over 20 years experience in the hospitality and restaurant industry, both back and front of house.
They create their food tours specifically with the hospitality professional in mind, filling a gap for hands-on professional development focused on understanding the provenance of the produce sourced by hospitality businesses.
We talked to them recently about their passion for Australian produce and why they advocate provenance and sustainability.
Tell us a bit about Straight To The Source.
STTS: "We specialize in delivering behind-the-scenes regional food experiences for chefs and hospitality professionals, taking them to Australia’s diverse food growing regions and the provenance of its finest ingredients. Our focus is on connecting producers with the people sourcing, prepping, cooking with and serving their products, with an emphasis on sharing knowledge about where the food we eat comes from and how it is produced."
What is it about Australian produce that makes you so passionate, and want to champion it?
STTS: "Simple - Australia has some of the world’s finest produce! We are lucky enough to have incredible geographic and cultural diversity, a strong focus on innovation and sustainability, and award-winning quality right on our doorstep. Championing this to ensure everyone knows where to source the best Australian produce from is what drives Straight To The Source."
What’s the importance for you in educating hospitality professionals about Australian producers and regions?
STTS: "Knowing the provenance of produce and how much time, care and hard-work goes into cultivating it drives respect for the product, as well as creativity and inspiration as to how to prep and serve it. Understanding where produce comes from is the basic building block of the hospitality industry."
How have your guests applied what they’ve learnt from your food tours back into their commercial kitchen?
STTS: "Our tours have resulted in collaborative relationships between chefs and hospitality professionals and producers to the point that we’ve seen producers/ chefs adapt the way they grow/cook to fit better with what each needs for their businesses. We’ve also seen hospitality professionals demonstrate more commitment to sourcing produce from people and places they have first-hand familiarity with."
What do your guests enjoy the most about your tours?
STTS: "Gaining knowledge about regions and produce; meeting producers and gaining an understanding of the story behind the produce; enjoying the mental benefits of getting out of the kitchen and re-connecting with the reason why we all work in the hospitality industry - produce; and, the camaraderie of spending time with peers."
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt about the hospitality industry from the network of farmers, producers and chefs you’ve met?
STTS: "The passion that goes into what they each do - chefs and producers - and how much respect they have for each other’s craft."
For the tours you’ve led, what’s an ingredient you’ve discovered that you think Australians should use in their kitchens more often and why?
STTS: "Australian salt and Australian olive oil comes immediately to mind. We have taken chefs to witness the salt making process in Whyalla, South Australia and also hand harvesting Pink Lake salt in Victoria. We have also harvested olives in the Southern Tablelands in NSW and in the Grampians in Victoria. Depending on the region the flavour profiles and application is different but we can’t see any reason to use imported salt or olive oil."
Who’s the most inspiring hospitality professional for you and why?
STTS: "It’s hard to name just one but they all have one thing in common...they invest in themselves and their staff to educate and familiarise themselves with the people, produce and place that drives their businesses."
What are the plans for Straight To The Source this year?
STTS: "We have some new destinations and regional collaborations in the pipeline that will expand our outreach further across Australia. We have also just partnered with 57 Films and working with them to capture our industry tours for a TV series focusing on Australia’s leading food regions and produce, and the chefs and hospitality professionals who source, prep and serve their products."
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|Tawnya Bahr and Lucy Allon are the founders of Straight to the Source food tours, specifically designed for hospitality professionals. Between them, they have over 20 years experience each in the hospitality and restaurant industry, both back and front of house. Find them on Facebook and Instagram.|
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