Institute of Gastronomy on the menu for Daylesford

Alla Wolf-Tasker, leader at the Daylesford Institute of Gastronomy (DIG)

A new one-of-a-kind food education institution may be on the cards for Daylesford, led by restaurant doyenne Alla Wolf-Tasker.

Alla Wolf-Tasker AM – the co-owner and legendary culinary director of the internationally lauded Lake House in Daylesford, which opened more than 30 years ago – is one of Australia’s leading chefs and a champion of local produce.

And now, she’s turning her talents to a new endeavour: leading a team to test the feasibility of establishing a world-leading Daylesford Institute of Gastronomy (DIG).

To get the feasibility plan off the ground, the Victorian Government has contributed $100,000, Regional Development Australia $20,000 and William Angliss Institute of TAFE has tipped in $30,000.

The aim of DIG is to make regional Victoria a food education hotspot.

Geared to farmers, hospitality professionals and both domestic and international students, DIG’s focus would cover everything from bread and cheese making, to fermentation and butchering techniques.

In Alla’s words…

How are the DIG plans progressing?

“We’ve held stakeholder briefings, followed by four workshops developing a “logic map” for the business case. The stage one report has just been finalised, and stage two will deal with potential operating models, locations, infrastructure costs and programs. There’s much excitement amongst both the local community and the wider culinary and agribusiness industry about the possibilities.”

Why Daylesford?

“It has a particularly strong local food community, many of whom are actively engaged in best practice regenerative agriculture and sustainable food production. Local biodynamic and organic produce, heritage breeds and heirloom vegetables find their way onto local tables. Increasingly, city chefs come to learn and source much of their produce from our region, as well. The region’s reputation as a sustainable ‘food bowl’ continues to build.”

Combatting skills shortages

“In the region and at our level of delivery excellence at Lake House, skills shortages and low supply is now a critical issue impacting business growth and investment. The profession requires a ‘shot in the arm’ and a raising of status that’s more about personal knowledge and development rather than celebrity. Tapping the thirst to understand where food comes from – as well as learning traditional artisan skills in a ‘get your hands dirty’ situation (rather than just lectures) – might just do the trick. Also, Victoria already punches far above its weight in food production – it makes sense for there to be this kind of institute in a state so committed to growing and producing great food.”

How will DIG pitch to international students?

“Food provenance – already an issue of considerable interest in Australia – potentially has even greater relevance in Asia, fuelling the desire for increased knowledge and relevant skills.”