Paddock to Plate a passionate showcase for produce
Picture: Supplied

Whenever she's in WA, Louise FitzRoy can expect to be told that her voice sounds familiar.

It's a common experience for the Melbourne-based food writer and educator, and there's a simple explanation: as a radio reporter at ABC South West, her voice was often heard on the airwaves.

In fact, her popular Cold Esky Challenge, the series of weekly reports she compiled in Bunbury as the station's rural reporter six years ago, was the genesis behind From Paddock to Plate - a multimedia brand that Ms FitzRoy promotes around the country.

"I just fell into it," she said. "As the rural reporter, you're given a 20-minute slot every morning and this is the time we get to create what we want to put to air."

Ms FitzRoy decided she'd use the slot to focus on how food made its way to our tables. So she set about interviewing farmers and growers, taking their produce to local chefs and bakeries, and then talking with local winemakers about what to select with the recipes.

"I got to experience collecting honey surrounded by bees, deep-sea fishing . . . and I remember collecting truffles with a dog," she said.

"It was pouring with rain and I was digging in mud, all my equipment was covered in mud - it was so much fun.

"I learnt so much and that's why I'm so passionate about Paddock to Plate because all of these experiences and this knowledge that the farmers have could be lost if we don't pass them on. So I feel like my role with From Paddock to Plate is helping pass on the tips and the tricks of the trade while at the same time supporting agriculture. I hope people realise that, without farmers, there would be very limited food on our shelves."

From the Cold Esky Challenge a book evolved - From Paddock to Plate - and an eight-part video series she made to show schoolchildren where food comes from.

She's since released a Paddock2Plate iPhone app and regularly attends food events to spread the word to foodies.

Ms FitzRoy took From Paddock to Plate to last year's Truffle Kerfuffle where the audience, she says, was "incredible".

"I was overwhelmed by the audience participation," she said. "They asked so many questions and they wanted to be so involved. I can completely understand why Truffle Kerfuffle has been increased to two days because there is that need."

The event also gave her a deeper insight into truffles' place in cooking. "I had no idea of the range of truffle uses out there," she said.

At this year's Truffle Kerfuffle, Ms FitzRoy will lead 10 stage shows (five on both Saturday and Sunday) of about 40 minutes each and she promises lots of different elements. They will include sessions aimed at children and talks from truffle growers, chefs and winemakers as well as a truffle-dog demonstration.

"It's really interactive," she said.

"We teach how to grow truffles, how to cook with truffles . . . often people are scared to cook with truffles.

"But they don't need to be."

The West Australian

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