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Local Chefs and eateries

East Gippsland fresh and flavoursome produce celebrated by local chefs

The generosity we’ve been exposed to and the produce people have brought us is a chef’s dream,” said Anton Eisenmenger,

owner of Lindenow café, The Long Paddock. Anton and his partner, Tanya Bertino, established the café in December 2015, much to the good fortune of the people of East Gippsland and the regular visitors who visit the cafe from further afield.  

Anton and Tanya made the move to East Gippsland following successful careers as chefs in Melbourne, France and the UK. For Tanya it was a move back to her home town. Raised on a farm in Lindenow she is well aware of the high standard of food produced in the region. “The quality of produce in East Gippsland is well known to chefs in Melbourne,” said Tanya. “We are very lucky to have it readily accessible to work with,” added Anton.

Tanya and Anton have wasted no time in connecting with food producers and passionate foodies like themselves. Forge Creek Free Range eggs is one of their favourites. “Their eggs are the best I’ve ever seen,” said Tanya. “We used to pay one pound per egg when I worked in London. These eggs are so good and big and delicious. They make beautiful poached eggs.”

“People drop in all sorts of special produce. Last week someone brought us a giant bag of quinces. Another supplier dropped in four kilograms of different kinds of basil. It was potent, fresh and stunning,” said Tanya. Tanya and Anton relish the opportunity to make use of fresh produce in new recipes. Tanya made one of her signature tarts with the quinces. She used the basil in a gnocchi dish; in a dessert of poached Johnsonville peaches and strawberry juices; and with a Lakes Entrance calamari dish. “We are grateful for the efforts of our suppliers who provide us with beautiful products.”

Jackson from JB Seafood in Lakes Entrance rings ahead to let the couple know when the boats are coming in with a catch of calamari, bugs or cuttlefish. “If we can get our hands on it fresh and live, we’ll take it,” said Anton. Another supplier forages for interesting delicacies such as sea herbs and succulents; Warragul greens and watercress. “He shows up regularly with his bounty,” said Tanya.

Gerard Ingram from Bonnacord likes to trial new produce. “He is one of our best customers,” said Tanya. “The Ingrams often bring us cartons of beautiful produce they have grown for themselves such as Roma tomatoes, flava beans and sweet corn.”

Tanya and Anton have paired up with local winery, Lightfoots Winery situated on the other side of the Mitchell River Valley, and brewery Sailors Grave in Orbost, to host special dinners throughout the year. The dinners offer four course set menus aiming to highlight local seasonal produce. The dinners are advertised on Instagram and they sell out fast. “The last one sold out in a couple of hours,” said Anton.

Mark Briggs and his partner Victoria Hollingsworth are delighted with their move from a restaurant in Southbank in Melbourne to Sardine, their new restaurant on The Esplanade in sardine1Paynesville. Mark and Victoria knew they were making the right decision when they called into Forge Creek Free Range Eggs. “The chickens waddled over to greet us because they like being around people,” laughed Mark. “That sealed it.”

The first renovation the couple made to the restaurant was to remove a wall so Mark could see the water from the kitchen. “It’s my office,” said Mark. The restaurant has been transformed into a bright, modern space with a view across the road to the boat traffic passing up and down McMillan Strait.

Like Tanya and Anton, the couple are making the most of the access to Gippsland produce. “As a chef in Melbourne I was always using products from Gippsland,” said Mark. “JB Seafood is fantastic. Jackson will ring and let us know what has just landed. When we need honey we ring the guys from Raymond Island Honey. They hop on the ferry and bring a tub across. I use Shaw’s beef in Stratford. They have lovely lovely beef. We use Maffra cheeses and local wines such as Lightfoots.”

“We look forward to establishing more connections with local producers,” said Victoria. “Local people have been very generous and helpful to us. We hope to complement what other businesses in the area are doing.”

The Waterwheel Tavern, a hotel situated on the waterfront at Lakes Tyers Beach, is perfectly placed to make the most of fresh local produce, particularly Lakes Entrance seafood. Items on the menu include half a kilo of king prawns, a seafood platter and spaghetti pescatore brimming with freshly caught seafood. The tavern’s thin-crust pizzas, baked in a wood-fired oven and topped with a range of fresh ingredients are well worth the drive to Lake Tyers.

Rob Turner, originally from Yorkshsire in the UK has taken over the Yellow Belly Deli in the Main Street of Bairnsdale. He worked as a food development chef for Marks and Spencer and in country house hotels in the North of England. Rob is now living in Metung and is delighted with his new life-style in East Gippsland. “The region is spectacular, said Rob. It has everything here.” Like the chefs from The Long Paddock and Sardine, Rob enthuses about the produce available in East Gippsland, describing it as sensational.

Rob has formed contacts with food producers such as Forge Creek Lamb, Forge Creek Free Range Eggs, and David Luckes’ unique grocery store. He likes to make the trip to the paddocks of Lindenow for his vegetables. “I don’t want my salad vegetables to travel to Melbourne and back again,” said Rob.

Rob’s new breakfast menu is bursting with regional produce including sourdough bread from Rivendell Farm in Tambo Upper, Skylor Park ham in Forge Creek, Meristrom Herbs in Orbost and Picnic Point berries.

As a newcomer to the region Rob has quickly identified the enormous potential for further development of tourism. He recently met with the mayor, Joe Rettino, about the Shire’s Rob Turner from Yellow Belly DeliRob Turner from Yellow Belly Delicommitment to supporting small businesses and tourism. “We agree that restaurateurs, producers and the council need to work collaboratively to best promote the region,” said Rob.

Rob, along with The Long Paddock, Sardine and The Waterwheel Tavern are proud supporters of the Eat Drink Local campaign. An initiative of East Gippsland Marketing (EGMI), the strategy aims to highlight those businesses who support local products. “East Gippsland is fortunate to have high standard pubs, cafes and restaurants who understand the quality and reputation of our local produce,” said Karly McCaskill, the Marketing Manager of EGMI. “It really is the food bowl of Australia.”