Bespoke HarvestBespoke Harvest
Simon Bespoke Harvest

Today we celebrate 12 months at Bespoke Harvest. A local produce restaurant by Chef Simon Stewart in the little Otway's village of Forrest, Victoria. Our aim is to source and provide 80% fresh provincial ingredients.

It’s been a full-on year of learning. We are lucky enough to live right in the middle of a beautiful organic food bowl. The Otway's is a fantastic landscape to grow food. Deep in the hills are rich soils perfect for growing potatoes, berries and grass that grazing animals love. Across the rolling foothills, abundant rainfall and gentle slopes create the ideal environment for growing an enormous range of vegetables. And then further out on the plains makes for great seed crops and wine grapes.

Its one thing to live within the food bowl, but getting the ingredients to Forrest is another matter. With over 30 local suppliers, many hours are spent on the phone, waiting for farmers to return from the paddock, or coordinating produce availability. But, that is where you learn a little bit more about each supplier and what their daily routine is about. Arranging pick-ups and drop-offs, gives us the opportunity to catch up on a yarn or two.

Anticipating the change of seasons is always interesting. Australia seems to have more than four seasons, and menu updates are constant. Fortunately with a set dinner menu format, we have the advantage of changing this on a weekly basis. Lunch service can be a simple salad or vegetable dish, or a longer lunch with a group of friends on the weekend.

Simon grew up in the Colac-Otway district, and has a passion for the area. As a child he watched his grandparents growing and harvesting fresh vegetables from seeds they sowed. It was ingrained in his mind. Simon’s ardent approach to using local organic produce from the area and his own kitchen garden allows him to be spontaneous when evolving his dishes. He believes the essence of his food is in the freshness of the ingredients, he balances local passion with the flavours of the middle east.

We look forward to the next 12 months of bringing the Otway’s paddocks onto your plate.

xxx The Bespoke Harvest team