15 April 2024

Chef Reece Inkpen joins the foodie fun at Bungendore Harvest Festival

| Lucy Ridge
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Black and white photo of Reece standing in front of a shelf of wines.

Reece Inkpen will spend eight weeks at the helm of Paranormal Wine’s kitchen. Photo: Supplied.

Chef Reece Inkpen has worked in top-notch restaurants in London and Canberra, and now he’s heading out to the bright lights of Bungendore for a very special event.

While working with award-winning restaurant Pilot, Reece has developed a relationship with Southern Harvest Association, a food and farming co-operative linking eaters and farmers in the Canberra-Bungendore region.

The Bungendore Harvest Festival is an annual fundraising event for Southern Harvest, with a weekend of celebrations and activities aimed at connecting locals with the people who grow their food. Reece has stepped up to help cater the Sunday Long Lunch, a cornerstone of the festival schedule.

“There’s definitely been a change in restaurants recently, with more of a focus on using smaller producers, glorifying those delicious vegetables and cooking hyper-seasonally,” Reece told Region.

“It’s been great to have access to an organisation like Southern Harvest in Canberra that has contacts with all the local farms. We’re getting a lot of really cool stuff from producers who might only grow a handful of things, but it’s really good.”

crowd of people at outdoor market

The Bungendore Harvest Festival will take place from 19 to 21 April 2024. Photo: Supplied.

The long lunch will take place in the Bungendore Village Square on long communal tables. Narrandera-based family farm Value Life Farm is providing a whole pig, cooked on a spit, which will form the centrepiece of the meal. Value Life Farm raises their livestock on pasture, meaning the pigs spend their whole life happily foraging in the paddocks.

READ ALSO Resilience at the heart of local food festival returning to Capital Country

Reece has developed his menu around the produce that is currently in-season and the rest of the ingredients will be provided by Southern Harvest Association members, including chestnuts from Cornucopia Farm in Araluen, pumpkins from Parkers Patch in Bungendore, apples from Tanbella Orchard in Pialligo and more!

“The menu will revolve around everything that’s in season right now. We’ll start with white oyster mushroom tartlets, and there’ll be butternut squash soup with roasted chestnuts and a pear and hazelnut salad. The whole pig is the focus of the main dish, and that part will be really interactive and fun,” Reece explained.

“We’re thinking fresh rolls, an escarole (Italian bitter salad green) salad and heaps of pickles and condiments.”

Dessert will be a baked apple cake with almonds, but Reece said more dishes are planned for the menu overall. He just needs to double-check availability from the farmers!

Ruth Gaha Morris is the owner of Scrumpers Kitchen and Southern Harvest Association Operations Manager. Photo: Bungendore Harvest Festival.

It’s not the only foodie-focussed event for the Bungendore Harvest Festival that has received assistance this year from the Queanbeyan-Palerang Region Council.

The festival launch dinner will take place at Scrumpers Kitchen, run by local food legend Ruth Gaha-Morris. The dinner, to be held on Friday (19 April), will feature local speakers from the Canberra Food Co-op and the Braidwood Garlic Growers Co-op, while attendees enjoy a three-course local produce meal with wine from neighbouring cellar door Sapling Yard.

READ ALSO Local, seasonal food is on the menu at Scrumpers Kitchen, Bungendore

Saturday will see the streets of Bungendore transformed with a market atmosphere. Stalls will line the streets selling local fruit and vegetables, gourmet delicacies, preserves, olive oils, and more. There will also be several arts and crafts stalls, such as a local Bungendore woodturner and knitted alpaca yarn garments from Michelago-based Pacawoolly, who will also bring alpacas for pats.

Wine lovers can be the first to taste the Sapling Yard 2023 vintage on Saturday afternoon or learn to pair native flavours with Corang Estate Wines on Sunday.

food festival promotional image

Bungendore Harvest Festival. Image: Supplied, Southern Harvest Association.

No matter how people engage with the festival, organisers hope it will make them think more about how they can collaborate with local farmers and help build a strong local food system. For Reece, it marks the start of a new chapter in his career.

“In a few weeks, I’ll be taking over the kitchen at Paranormal Wines, and I’ll be using produce from Southern Harvest. It’s so great to get the list each week of what the farmers have and then plan dishes around what’s in season.”

The Bungendore Harvest Festival will be held from 19 to 21 April in Bungendore and surrounding areas. Visit the Southern Harvest Association website for more details, or follow the Bungendore Harvest Festival on Facebook. Bookings are required for the launch dinner on Friday, 19 April, and Sunday long lunch on Sunday, 21 April.

Lucy Ridge is also an employee of Southern Harvest Association.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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