Deb O’Brien speaks to FOCUS about her new venture, The New England Foodie Trail and how paddock to plate is sweeping the area …
The New England Foodie Trail has been in operation for six months now. Who are you, and how is it going?
The New England Foodie Trail is a food and beverage tour that showcases the best this area has to offer. Think a wine tour … but on steroids! Our tours include lunch, all tastings, designated driver, tour guide and transport.
I am extremely passionate about tourism in the local area and especially love the whole paddock to plate phenomena that is sweeping the world. In part, I think I can credit a little of the success of The Foodie Trail to this. The New England Foodie Trail is going spectacularly well and I must admit, we were a bit blown away by exactly how successful a venture this has been. We are flat out, and the feedback we are getting is amazing!
What was your motivation for getting this concept off the ground, and what plans do you have for the Foodie Trail for the future?
I have so many plans for the future! I tend to be a very ambitious person and with the fabulous food and produce the New England has to offer, I believe the world is our oyster. But on a less grand scale, we have already started expanding to cater for Walcha and Uralla trails, and you should expect to see us popping up in other towns and locations nearby. We would love to tap into the coastal market as well at some stage.
The idea of the Foodie Trail was really born out of demand. We also run a successful Farmstay, and we had a lot of feedback that our guests were getting to one or two places, but couldn’t put it all together. They felt they were missing the secret spots; you know, the places that all the locals know are great, but as a tourist you need a bit of insider knowledge to know where to go.
We were also extremely inspired by this region and all it has to offer. We feel that New England is on the precipice of something great when it comes to food and beverage and frankly, we wanted to be part of it. There are so many wonderful producers at the moment and so many more coming into the market. I think New England is definitely on track to become a major player in the food and beverage industry.
Tell us about your “Dream Team” and how “Paddock to Plate” works with these businesses?
Our “Dream Team”, so we call it, are the venues and businesses we showcase on our trails. Aptly named by us, as they are all a dream to work with and produce the best the region has to offer. We were not interested in having a venue on the trail just because it fitted in with a schedule or location. We wanted the best of the best, and we truly believe that is what we have achieved.
Another criteria was a cellar door that gave our customers some insight as to why that particular product is the best of the best – the makings of that product, the process and the ingredients used. I believe that people are truly starting to realise that big is not always better. They do not want the same old tasteless pre-packaged stuff; they are moving towards flavour and buying local produce and the closer the paddock is to the plate, the better the flavour and quality is going to be. We believe people want to experience food and beverage, not just consume it.
Who can go on a New England Foodie Trail and if I only have two people, can
we do tour?
As the trail features a fair bit of beer, spirit and wine tasting, I am afraid it is for the adults only. We pride ourselves on flexibility, which means that our trails can cater from group sizes of just two people to however many you would like (we have no maximum limit). How the Trails work is that we operate from Wednesday to Sunday each week, and you just book in your group on a date that suits you. We have standard trails for your convenience, but find that we usually customise a trail to suit what your preferences are.
Are you looking for other business to be included in your “Dream Team”?
Absolutely! We are always on the lookout for new business for the Foodie Trail. Just keep in mind that we are all about local produce, cellar door and a quality product … the best of the best! We are especially looking for people who are doing new and exciting things in the area.
Christmas parties will be on everyone’s minds in the next few months. What advice would you give to any business wanting to do a New England
Foodie Trail for this?
GET IN QUICK! As I said, we have been a bit blown away with how popular the New England Foodie Trail is, and we do tend to book out earlier rather than later. So if you are looking for something fabulous and a little bit different to do for your Christmas party, start thinking about booking now.