High-profile chef David Coomer has moved away from the world of fine dining in Perth's western suburbs to embrace life as a part-time gourmet farmer in Manjimup.

After closing Star Anise, which had been hailed as WA's best restaurant last year, Coomer spends part of every week at his truffle and marron farm.

The chef scours the timber town - which boasts a $96 million plus agricultural industry - for the best produce to send to his tapas restaurant, Pata Negra, in Nedlands.

Coomer said while Manjimup had been overshadowed by Margaret River, it was a food lover's paradise.

"Because I'm down here once a week, I basically keep in touch with what's in season and have a little bit of a list of growers we get bits and pieces from," he said.

"The best stuff from down here is obviously marron, truffles and you get great spuds down here."

"But it's all those little surprising things I didn't realise were growing down here - like Nick at Appletech down the road, he's got the most amazing quinces, he does passionfruit, apples and pomegranates."

Coomer, who will talk up the region at the Manjimup Truffle Kerfuffle tomorrow, bought the property about five years ago to plant trees inoculated with truffle spores and he hopes to one day export the prized fungus.

He says his farm in Manjimup is a vital counterbalance to the restaurant business in Perth and he plans to spend more time there.

The West Australian

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