Foraging for a creative menu
CHEF Campbell Rowe describes himself as a modern-day forager.
When he's not working at his boutique hinterland farm harvesting lychee, green mango, lime and black sapote, or eggs from a small brood of free-range chooks, Campbell visits farmers' markets to forage for ingredients and discuss new-season produce with local organic producers.
The Goonengerry-based chef has taken the age-old notion of foraging for wild, fresh food and given it a new twist in the bespoke catering business he is launching tomorrow at the Bangalow Christmas Designers' Market.
After foraging for the best food on offer locally, Mr Rowe creates an artisan chef's table for private dining and bespoke pop-up catering events under his new brand Forage and Graze.
"I call it modern-day foraging because I am interested in sourcing the freshest, local ingredients," Mr Rowe said.
"I might hand-select a piece of fish, or go and visit the farm and see just how the coffee beans are grown."
Formally trained as a chef and with more than 15 years in the industry, Mr Rowe is also trained in organic horticulture - two skills he has applied over the past five years as sous chef and one of the organic gardeners at luxury retreat Gaia.
"I grew up on an olive orchard in New Zealand and I have always had an interest in farming," he said.
"My menus are designed around seasonal produce and although it can involve a huge amount of logistical effort in sourcing ingredients this way, the reward is to prepare meals with the very freshest produce available.
"It creates an experience where the diner eats food at its very best."
Foraging and cooking workshops are also planned for his new venture.
Combining his passion for organic gardening with his experience as a chef has deepened his love for both, Mr Rowe said.
"Gardening brings a new level of respect for what it takes to produce the food we cook with," he said.
Campbell is launching Forage and Graze alongside 35 artisans at the Bangalow Heritage Museum, corner Ashton and Deacon Sts.
On the menu
At tomorrow's market in Bangalow:
Breakfast rolls with local smoked bacon, free-range eggs and locally grown Moonshine coffee, served with organic milk
Lunch menu includes smoky slow-cooked pork shoulder with new-season corn and Heartbread's cornbread and Creole chicken with green mango salsa