Evolution of a recipe: watching Miguel Maestre in action

Evolution of a recipe: watching Miguel Maestre in action

Evolution of a recipe: watching Miguel Maestre in action 2560 1152 Table Under a Tree

For a small family-run business, the a chance to be featured on a national television show is an opportunity that comes once in a blue moon.

For us, the blue moon came recently, with a story on Channel 10’s The Living Room. We were part of a story with well-known chef and celebrity Miguel Maestre and if you happened to miss it, you can see part of it here on TenPlay.

It was an opportunity that came out of the blue. I took a call one day from the show’s producers, asking us if we’d be interested and available to do some filming with them. Um… Yeah! We talked, over the course of many weeks, about what they were hoping to capture and how we could help them achieve that. The premise was simple: Miguel wanted to cook a vegetarian dish for the operator of a local animal shelter, Animal Rights and Rescue, whose facilities they were making over as the week’s episode. Our first thought was to make sure we could showcase as many small-scale farmers and producers as we could, demonstrating just what amazing food culture and heritage we have in the Northern Rivers.

I suggested we visit Byron Farmers Market and then return to our farm to prepare the dish. Miguel came up with a recipe, for what he was calling a pumpchetta! A stuffed pumpkin, reminiscent of a traditional Italian porchetta. It sounded delicious right from the start, and I figured I had nothing to loose by suggesting a few tweaks, substituting some ingredients for those that would highlight what is grown and made right here in our region. Bring on the dry-land rice, the local macadamias and the creamy feta cheese! Miguel was up for the changes, and added even more local flair on the day of filming.

And when filming did come around, it was equal parts funny, fascinating, exhausting and enjoyable.

He is a crazy and incredibly enthusiastic bloke! Miguel’s food knowledge was amazing and his curiosity about Northern Rivers’ ingredients and producers was genuine and went way beyond filming. He’s the real deal. I took him around the market, introducing him to as many of the stallholders as I could before the show producers dragged us away! He went crazy over the traditional Spanish-style jamon Jed from Esperanza Farm had on his stall. He was so excited by the produce on display at both Jumping Red Ant’s and Caldera Harvest’s stalls. He and Debbie from Cheeses Loves You were a veritable comedy duo. He talked chicken cuts with George from Brooklet Springs Farm, pasta making with Liam from Byron Gourmet Pasta and happily took selfies with anyone who asked. He and Claire from Wattle Tree Creek chatted all things bush food, lamenting why more Australians don’t use the herbs and spices we have right here at home. He loved the musician busking at the markets, Naomi Connell, so much that he bought her CD. He even sang a few lines with her which was highly entertaining! He went back to talk with people, even after the cameras had been packed away.

Then it was back to Three Paddocks Farm to film the cooking component. He and all the crew were fabulous to work with, and despite all of us ended up in hysterics at the challenge of hammering a PVC pipe through a pumpkin, things went exactly to plan. We made sure to have local produce in pride of place on the table. La Finca Booyong eggs, Grumpy Grandma’s Olive Oil, Byron Bay Crackers, Baraka Gourmet hummus and more. We even managed to introduce him to one more local grower. After discovering that he is an ambassador for Australian Mushrooms we jumped at the chance to tell him about nearby Byron Gourmet Mushrooms.  Luckily, Skye and the team are just up the road from us, so a quick phone call and just moments later there was a knock on the door with a delivery of a perfect Lions Mane mushroom for Miguel to enjoy. He was excited!

It was some weeks then before the show went to air, and when it did, it was hard not to feel humbled at what an amazing gift this really was. It was an experience we’ll never forget, and an opportunity we’ll always be grateful to have had come our way. I’m glad we were able to share that with other local farmers, growers and producers, and I hope they all felt proud of the recognition of the Northern Rivers.

Real people, making real food at real places.



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