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STEVE EARL is the head chef and owner of La Bimba, a restaurant,nestled between velvet-green rolling hills and moody seas in Australia’s Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.

The chef was in Kuala Lumpur recently to share about the food culture and food trails within the state of Victoria.

Earl has always had an affinity for the Great Ocean Road, and admires those who source produce from local areas and treat it with great respect.

Getting to know the produce’s origin, and where it is sourced is important for the food safety, freshness and flavour or it may be jeopardised having to shipped from afar through various third parties.

Hence, Earl’s restaurant is about keeping the food cycle as close to home as possible, and allowing the produce to speak for
itself.

As a chef and owner of a restaurant, he took matters into his own hands by advocating and practising a farm-to-table concept to promote sustainable farming, and the importance of local food network.

“Food in La Bimba is simple cuisine,” he said, “but its about everything that has a connection to the environment, it is about tasting the authentic flavours from the region in a globalised world, where food can come from anywhere and [is] shipped from all over the world.

“We really wanted to focus on the uniqueness of our environment – The Great Ocean Road, and the Otways.

The thing with simple food is that it is far from simple, the hard work only begins when it gets into the kitchen, hence, that is what we are trying to capture.”

Having travelled around the world, Earl has developed a deep appreciation and understanding of the importance of a culture’s cuisine.

He grew up on a farm with his father, a keen hunter and fisherman, who gave him a unique insight into the journey that takes food from its natural state until it reaches the plate.

So what does it really mean when a restaurant is farm-to-table?

The concept is not strictly bound to be from a ‘farm’, it is all-compassing, and can include wineries, breweries, ranches, fisheries, or any other type of food producer.

This can only be accomplished through Earl’s relationship with local businesses such as the growers and fishermen who are driving force behind the sustainable foundation for being able to eat truly healthy and honest food.

He values produce that are in Season and from the Otways, as a result, La Bimba’s menu is continually evolving through the year.

He said: “By dealing directly with the fishermen, they’ll notify me mid-morning through text messages while they are still out at sea to tell me what they have caught, and by lunchtime, the catches will be in the restaurant ready to be cooked.”

When asked why does he think it is so important to be sustainable, he said: “I think it comes from what does it mean as a human being to do the right thing, and I think it is to leave the world in a better state than we enter it.

“At the moment, we’re not doing that, if everyone starts doing their bid in minimising their waste impact, hopefully, we can work towards that for what’s best and right for our children.”

“Apart from that, there’s something really primal about being connected to the land.

“One thing I am certain of is that our health both human and planet comes from the soil, the more we nurture and understand this, the more it will provide and look after us.

“We are what we eat, all the way down the line.”

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