23 February 2022

Celebrate the taste of summer as local produce takes centre stage at the National Arboretum

| Lucy Ridge
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menu with mushrooms on log

Previous ‘Our Kitchen, Our Growers’ events have featured local producers such as Good Creek Mushrooms. Photo: Alex Pasquali Photographs.

Tantalise your tastebuds and head to the National Arboretum this Sunday when Ginger Catering hosts the summer edition of its popular ‘Our Kitchen, Our Growers’ lunch series.

The lunch events shine the spotlight on the region’s growers and producers with most ingredients sourced from within a two-hour drive of Canberra.

Marketing and special projects manager for Ginger Catering, Kara O’Brien, says local produce has always been a big part of the company’s ethos thanks to driving force and executive chef Janet Jeffs.

“The need to support regenerative agriculture is a really important value of our company, especially as farming and agriculture is a declining industry,” Kara says. “So we feel the need to really boost them up.”

Janet, a stalwart of Canberra’s hospitality scene since she opened her first Canberra restaurant `Juniperberry’ in 1996, has formed long-lasting relationships with regional producers including Joyce Wilkie of Allsun Farm in Gundaroo.

Working with local food is how Janet has always approached her craft.

Chef plates up a dish

Canberra chef Janet Jeffs has worked with local producers for many years. Photo: Keepsakephoto by the Keeffes.

She’s so dedicated to regenerative agriculture and local produce that in recent years has stepped back from the kitchen to become a farmer. Her historic property ‘Ballalaba’ near Braidwood will even provide some ingredients for the lunch.

READ ALSO Regional producers will be the lifeblood of new Capital Food Market

“[Ballalaba Farm] is Janet’s property,” Kara says. “Her apples are featuring on this menu, and she also grows other produce and raises Dexter cattle which end up on our regular menu as well.”

Sunday’s lunch will feature pasture-raised chicken from Canowindra Farms and farmed venison from Mandagery Creek. Canberrans might recognise Canowindra Farms from its regular stall at the Capital Region Farmers Market.

Native ingredients will add some spice and texture to dishes including Janet’s Ballalaba apple and macadamia terrine, and wattle-seed spiced Ingalara potatoes. The three-course meal will be paired with wine from Eden Road and other local wineries.

chicken dish served with wine

Pasture-raised chicken from Canowindra Farms will again feature on the menu at this year’s summer edition of ‘Our Kitchen, Our Growers’. Photo: Alex Pasquali.

Ainslie Urban Farm has perhaps the lowest food-miles of all producers, with the suburban mini-farm supplying fresh micro-greens and herbs for the menu. Local favourite Three Mills Bakery is a close contender travelling the shortest distance from maker to plate.

Janet will explain to guests what each producer has contributed and how her kitchen team has chosen to prepare their ingredients. Some producers will also attend the event.

READ ALSO Patchwork Urban Farm: a community stitched together by a love of local produce

Diners are also welcome to chat with growers. “Sometimes they move around the tables as well,” Kara says.

The event is a celebration of the summer harvest and follows the success of a 2021 winter lunch which featured mushrooms, truffles and other seasonal ingredients.

COVID-19 cancelled the spring lunch, but Kara says there will be more events to come in 2022.

“We’ll continue to do seasonal events that highlight different growers each time and really bolster that local agricultural community.”

diners at Ginger Restaurant at the Arboretum

A well-fed crowd at the National Arboretum enjoys local ingredients prepared by Janet Jeffs’ team. Photo: Alex Pasquali.

2022 also marks 20 years since Ginger Catering first opened The Ginger Room at Old Parliament House.

In an industry where restaurants come and go, the longevity of Ginger Catering is testament to Janet’s commitment to working with locally-sourced, sustainable and ethical produce, and her excellence and flair in the kitchen.

Bookings are essential for the event. Vegetarian options are available.

Ginger Restaurant at the Arboretum is temporarily closed for regular service but will re-open Thursday, 3 March.

Ginger Cafe is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm

The National Arboretum grounds are open daily. More information can be found on the website.

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