The Renascence in Gippsland with Alejandro Saravia

Chef Alejandro Saravia centres produce and quality in is food. He’s credited as the man who brought Peru to Australian palates in his first endeavour, Sydney’s Morena, and his highly regarded Pastuso in Melbourne.

But there’s a place a little closer to home that drives this passionate chef to new heights. ‘I was lucky enough to meet Paul Crock from Gippsland Natural Beef who insisted I take some time out for a farm trip,’ he recently told Gourmet Traveller ahead of his appearance at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  

The rest, as they say, is history. This regional excursion became an eye-opener and turning point says Saravia. The connection between Gippsland’s producers and the fertile land they work echoes the traditions – both culinary and cultural – of Saravia’s native Peru. ‘I got to meet with the producers and discover the vast rural area of Gippsland,’ where a farming community with a holistic environmental approach work with the land and the seasons. These producers will often focus on a single crop, striving to perfect it and cultivate that perfection in a sustainable way.

Together with Crock and a group of producers and farmers from the region, Saravia has developed the Farmer’s Daughters project. The group’s founding principals emphasise a responsible relationship with the land, a dedication to specialisation and uncompromising quality, and the building of a strong community. It is also the inspiration behind his new mural in ACDC lane. Local artist Resio has been commissioned to splash a vibrant homage to Gippsland across a wall beside Saravia’s restaurant Pastuso. It will bring a little piece of the region’s natural beauty to the city. The mural will be another colourful addition to Melbourne’s world-famous street art collection in laneways all over the city, but it will also be a tool to educate and a talking point for diners visiting Pastuso who want to know where their dinner comes from.

For those who want to see the region in person, Saravia has the perfect opportunity. Renascence Gippsland returns after a hugely successful debut at the 2017 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. In the paddocks of the Gippsland Natural Beef farm overlooking the iconic Wilson’s Promontory, Saravia will be cooking over an open fire, melding together local inspiration and his Latin American heritage. All produce will be locally sourced, much of it from the producers of Farmer’s Daughters, including seafood from Lakes Entrance.

Saravia’s commitment to sourcing and preparing food will be on show. Expect a whole-animal approach that celebrates the efforts of local farmers to go carbon neutral. Dishes are stripped back, deliciously rustic but equally nuanced and complex. It’s flavour profile that will be recognisable to anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Pastuso – but out in the crisp open air of Gippsland, it will be unforgettable.  

 

Plan your Gippsland escape with our guide to the region.