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In 2009, Australian cook Justine Schofield was selected for the first series of MasterChef Australia. While she was eventually eliminated in fourth place, her individual skills and bubbly personality did not go unnoticed with Network Ten offering to produce a TV program of her own, Everyday Gourmet. Now, after more than 700 episodes, Essentials’ spoke with Justine about her rise to fame and contents of her fabulous new book The Weeknight Cookbook – one we…

Richard Cornish forages for the fungal truth in Catalonia, as the locals make their annual pilgrimage to the hills in their quest to find elusive autumn mushrooms. It’s a weeknight in October and the normally riotous bar district of El Raval in the centre of Barcelona is surprisingly quiet. Some bartenders blame the rain, a slow but consistent drizzle rapidly returns La Rambla into the stream it once was. Others fall into line and say…

Essentials’ Richard Cornish recently caught up with artisan cheesemaker Andre Kogurt of Mornington, Victoria’s Blue Bay Cheese company; an interview that was long overdue. But learning to be patient in all things dairy it seems, is par for the course. Cheesemaker Andre Kogut is a patient man. He spends a lot of time waiting. He waits hours for his milk to turn to curds. He waits weeks as the curds set in their hoops. He…

It’s always a grand experience venturing into High Country Victoria, Australia. With pleasantly forested undulating hills and dramatic alpine peaks making up some of the country’s highest, the region presents an opportunity for people to reconnect with nature and so reinvigorate the soul. Living and working within the area, Master Builder Steve Graves of leading firm Bright Alpine Builders, knows all too well how picturesque the region is. Inspired by the tall stands of mountain…

This weekend, celebrate spring in Victoria’s High Country by joining the Festival of Short Walks. Showcasing their local charms, the villages of Beechworth, Chiltern, Yackandandah and Rutherglen have been stepping it up during the weeks of 14 – 20 October, 2019. An Australian first, the seven day short walks festival features over thirty guided walks and forty self-guided walks, each designed to give you an evocative experience, rich in nature, arts and culture, food and…

We couldn’t think of a better cause – a supportive celebration of our local seafood industry that’s guaranteed to taste great. Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing Australia’s commercial fishing industry, is calling on Australians to ‘ask for Aussie barra’ in celebration of National Barramundi Day today, October 18. ‘With its Aboriginal name and prominence on restaurant menus, Australians often assume the barramundi they are eating is Australian, but this is not always…

Sharing the Love: We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but I have always loved the sentiment behind this special day. Having one day a year to sit back, relax and talk to your family about what is making you happy in life, what you appreciate and what your dreams are for the year ahead is something we don’t do nearly enough. This wonderful holiday is all about giving thanks, so, whether you do…

As the weather warms up down under, the spring and summer seasons announce themselves with colour and life, and for most of us a host of special occasions is clearly seen on the horizon. These most joyous of events inspire us via their rekindled connections with family and friends. In line with the imminent silly season, Rustik Café & Foodstore in Benalla, North East Victoria, is hosting a special book signing event starring Australian homemaking…

Bowel Cancer Australia has announced the return of Meat Free Week, September 23-29, challenging Australians to try a plant based foods menu for seven days and raise funds for a great cause. The campaign aims to get people thinking and talking about how much meat they’re eating, and the impact consumption has on health and the environment.  Now in its seventh year, support for Meat Free Week continues to grow with international celebrity campaigners and…

We had to do a double take when we first saw this product and we think it has to be Australia’s best. This non-dairy brie cheese is a first for world production, non-dairy perfection – the colour, texture and taste are a serious win for vegans and those on selected diets. The plant-based ashed cashew brie is handcrafted in a completely traditional manner; inoculated and aged to produce the distinctive aroma and flavour of artisan…

Covered in a rind with an apricot blush these soft, often creamy, washed rind cheeses, first made in European monasteries in the Middle Ages, develop an aroma that can vary from attractively meaty to deliciously stinky. Those meaty overtones made the cheeses a popular source of protein for the monks, who were forbidden from eating meat during the frequent – and lengthy – Catholic fasts. The great washed rind cheeses of Europe include Taleggio, Pont…

Nine craft breweries now officially make up the High Country Brewery Trail with two newcomers joining the ever-expanding fold – Mitta Mitta Brewing Co. with its new range including a cracker Belgian-styled farmhouse ale and Billson’s Brewery Beechworth, a brand that’s relaunched a series of historic beers using original recipes taken from a recently discovered secret brewer’s diary. Earlier this week all member brewers travelled to trail’s most north-easterly point Mitta Mitta, for the annual…

With more than two decades of experience in the coffee industry, Sydney based coffee aficionado and book author David Rosa has crafted what can only be described as the world’s most comprehensive coffee everything book The Artisan Roaster: revealing trade secrets, roasting tips, practical advice, hilarious anecdotes, tech specs, plus brief history on coffee – the book is a rewording and insightful new release. Some consider the self published book a modern bible, designed for…

The Buds have burst in the high altitude wine region of Orange, NSW and to celebrate the region’s winemakers and foodies have launched the 2019 Orange Wine Festival program; and it looks to be packed with adventure. Running from Friday, October 18 through to Sunday, October 27, events include behind-the-scenes access to wineries, meet-the-maker opportunities, a range of quality culinary experiences paired with the region’s award-winning wines and wine education sessions across a 10-day a…

Encore St Kilda Beach has won triple category awards at this year’s Victoria & Tasmania Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. Encore operated the Melbourne Hospitality People Group is famous for its beachside food and drink icons: Republica and Captain Baxter (St Kilda Beach) and Mr McCracken within the Essendon Fields Hyatt Place Melbourne hotel complex. The multi-function Encore venue was awarded in the Wedding Caterer, Function/Convention Centre Caterer and Caterer of…

Celebrating the launch of the new Aussie online retailer Epic Wines Online, Essentials spoke to founder Trevor Knaggs about which wine pack makes Epic Wines Online a good choice for premium red wine lovers. Why Epic Wines Online? ‘At Epic Wines Online we only sell organic, biodynamic or sustainable wines. These wines are produced in ways that respect the planet and as they’re chemical free, are not harmful your body. We curate these premium wines…

Seedlip is a novel non-alcoholic distilled drink – the perfect tipple to drink when you’re not drinking – that has launched to great acclaim in the US and the UK and been embraced by celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning bartenders, from Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck to Eleven Madison Park (named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2017) and Dead Rabbit (named the World’s Best Bar of 2016). Seedlip, the brainchild of UK-based entrepreneur, botany enthusiast…

There’s a new force for change happening in the Australian wine industry and the South Australian regions of Mclaren Vale and Adelaide Hills are leading the way. The positive new direction is the production of certified organic and biodynamic wines – wines that are sustainably grown and made with minimal intervention – meaning an all natural, chemical and additive free process. In terms of industry sales both down under and the world over, the organic…

Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture and Tathra Oysters have dominated the 2019 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show – Aquaculture Competition, Sydney Rock Oyster & Prawn Classes, at its first-ever public judging, held on 12 April at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Australians love their seafood; it’s a large part of our culture and ongoing lifestyle, and for good reason – we have some of the most pristine waterways and expertly farmed aquaculture products in the world.…

A little over 30 minutes south of Port Macquarie, on NSW’s mid-north coast sits the pristine waterway, estuary and river system of Camden Haven and Dunbogan. These twin tiny hamlets feature a mixture of residential plus holiday and retirement homes, most fronting the water with views also to Dooragan National Park’s North Brother Mountain just beyond Camden Haven Inlet. This nearby peak dominates the scenery with its impressive rainforest canopy to form the perfect backdrop…

We have been working hard for years and this medal is a great thrill for us,’ says Julie Cameron from Meredith Dairy, winner of this year’s 13th Annual President’s Medal. It is the most sought-after food and beverage award in the nation. ‘We spent a lot of time looking at our business, measuring the data, determining what we need to do better. The process of entering the competition really helped that,’ said Julie. ‘We worked…

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President’s Medal is Australia’s most sought-after food and beverage award. This week we announce the six finalists. The 2019 medal winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Sydney next week, April 17. The finalists come from around the country and the quality of the entries this year is extraordinary. Staple Bread & Necessities, Staple Classic Sourdough Champion Professional Bakery With its crisp, brown nutty crust and tangy…

From around the nation are gathered the best of the best foods and wine. Tested for taste, assessed for sustainability: the nominated products are scrutinised under the microscope to ensure a rock solid triple bottom line. In the end there can be only one winner of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President’s Medal. It is the most sought-after food and beverage award in the nation. A weighty, gleaming silver medallion engraved with the words:…

It’s early autumn, the coffee machine is humming and there’s a positive feel in the room as yet another packed-lunch service begins at Benalla’s Rustik Café & Foodstore. From its humble café beginnings, this Victorian High Country eatery has grown into a microeconomic powerhouse, supporting a wide range of local and national premium food producers. Similar to the mid-twentieth-century independent corner grocer or milk bar, co-owner Julie Brown is reviving the concept of a quality…

It’s garlic, but not as you know it. Rich, dark and delicious, Garlicious Grown black garlic is an ingredient for the everyday cook to make dishes more interesting, more fun and even tastier. Black garlic is garlic that has been naturally transformed to change not just its colour and texture but also its flavour. Gone is the pungent tang, replaced with a sweet mellow flavour that is reminiscent of molasses and caramel. The sharpness of…

Josh Niland’s collection of prized line-caught delights are a limited catch, delivered with an intensified flavour born of unique dry-ageing and curing techniques. You won’t find farmed or over-fished species at Sydney chef Josh Niland’s Fish Butchery. Rather, sustainable line-caught specialty gems hand-cut and presented in a central display cabinet that looks like it belongs in a museum: a collection of rare prized artefacts; its sliced and whole fish carefully arranged within their marble and…

In 2011 artisan baker Louise Ritchie began a heath-focused fascination with natural slow-ferment breads that can make gluten more digestible. Fast forward to 2018: while her artisan loaves are simply the best we’ve ever tasted, Lou’s sourdough crumpets are now the big-ticket winners. In 2011 her passion was driven by necessity – to improve the diet of her two sons. So began a self–education process with a simple sourdough starter made from just organic Australian…

Kefir is fermented milk and an amazing source of probiotics. Blue Bay Kefir, from Mornington, Victoria, is an Australian gold award-winning brand made from premium organic milk with no added thickeners or preservatives. Best of all, it tastes divine! The Taste Kefir has the lovely dairy aroma of milk with the pleasant scent of fresh yoghurt. Although slightly viscous it has a clean mouthfeel and finishes with a clean tang. It has the length of…

The old Scotch oven stands behind the old bakery shop in the centre of Eldorado. It was once the focus of this beautiful historic mining town in Victoria’s North East, 15 minutes east of the regional centre of Wangaratta. Owner Sandy Bogusis stands next to the Scotch oven, its iron face bearing the name J. Baker and Sons, Engineers. Melbourne. ‘Back in the early 1900s Robert Edgar Cunningham had commissioned the Scotch Oven,’ explains Sandy.…

Chef Luke Mangan has transformed his Sydney restaurant headquarters, offering a unique inner-urban neighbourhood bistro that plates up spice-trade influences and modern Australian fare. Essentials’ Jamie Durrant spoke to Luke about the new business and the goings on inside his Sydney warehouse. The menu at Luke’s Kitchen includes a subtle layering of local and central Asian tastes like curry-spiced banana chips, preserved lemons, nam jim sauce plus coconut yoghurt, ice-cream and broths. It feels like…