Written by Adam Wright in the South Coast Register
With a swag of prestigious awards and countless hours in the kitchens of some of the country’s and world’s top restaurants, chef John Evans is creating a special dinner in Berry tonight.
The dinner is part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, an annual event that stirs foodies and chefs into a frenzy of dining and cooking through October.
Crave culminates in a competition known as the 100 Mile Challenge in Sydney on October 30. Mr Evans, who has been charged with designing a dessert in the challenge, is hosting a 100 Mile dinner. Like the 100 Mile Challenge, tonight’s dinner will be created solely from ingredients sourced within a 100 mile radius of Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery.
Locally, Mr Evans created a following during his time as the head chef at The Gunyah Restaurant at Paperbark Camp in Woollamia. He excelled in bringing his city style to the country – putting a local stamp on his food by sourcing regional produce from many small suppliers and using bush tucker elements.
He was nominated as a finalist in the Country Style Chef of the Year Awards. Mr Evans was recently asked by Jelle Hilkemeijer to head the Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery in the opening of the venue for dinners.
He presents modern Australian cuisine influenced by European cooking techniques with an appreciation of the best ingredients sourced locally when available from the South Coast’s ever expanding natural larder. Tonight’s 100 Mile meal will include kingfish and oysters from Greenwell Point, vegetables from Terara, chicken from Thirlmere and strawberries from Sussex Inlet.
One of the challenges with using fresh local produce is that occasionally its availability can’t be confirmed until almost the last minute.
“This rain left a question mark over the strawberries and the kingfish until recently,” Mr Evans said. “You’ve just got to have trust in your suppliers. In Sydney the trend is to get produce from Flemington Markets, but I physically go to the farm.”
As an entrant in the 100 Mile Challenge, Mr Evans can’t reveal too much about the dessert he will prepare.
“I think the South Coast is an underrated region. The producers here have been doing this for years. They’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about.”