Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge talks up Illawarra and Shoalhaven as culinary destination

Talking up the region: Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge, of My Kitchen Rules, says many of his restaurant friends have moved to the Shoalhaven. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Talking up the region: Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge, of My Kitchen Rules, says many of his restaurant friends have moved to the Shoalhaven. Picture: Greg Ellis.

The growing reputation of the culinary scene in the region is not only being driven by dozens of talented new chefs being trained at Nowra and Wollongong TAFE campuses.

Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge said a growing number of experienced chefs and produce suppliers are relocating to the region which boasts a fantastic lifestyle, growing visitation and fantastic produce.

The My Kitchen Rules judge spoke candidly at a Nowra Farmers Market hosted presentation at the inaugural South Coast Food and Wine Festival in Berry on the weekend.

Fassnidge has provided mentoring support to many students at Celebrity Chef scholarship dinners at Destiny's Restaurant at Nowra TAFE in Bomaderry on at least two occassions.

He has provided commercial cookery students the chance to draw on his wealth of experience that has included working in one of Britain's top restaurants as well as some of Sydney's most acclaimed eateries before opening his own hatted restaurants and recently acquiring several hotels.

Fassnidge said many of his friends loved the South Coast as much as he did. So much so they now run successful businesses in the Shoalhaven.

"I am very good friends with Matt Fleming who was my head chef many years ago. He is a great chef who is now down here," he said.

"And John Evans has a place in town (South of Albany which has received a hat in the Good Food Guide) with Sonia (Greig) his wife. And my old vegetable supplier Pumpkin Ed is also here. Everyone has moved down here. I come down to the South Coast quite a lot. I love it".

Fleming was an award winning head chef of The Establishment and Bistro Moncur in Sydney before moving to Nowra in the mid 90's and later opening The Hub Community Cafe as a social venture to raise funds for activities in the local community. During the last decade he was been working with local produce to bring an international dining experience to the Shoalhaven. He has also been helping train the next generation of chefs at Nowra TAFE.

Fassnidge also spoke about the importance of people understanding some food is presently in limited supply and that is driving up costs.

He said the drought is going to significantly impact the restaurant industry in the months ahead. And that is coming at a time when they have never faced more competition because of the advent and growing popularity of food deliveries.

The celebrity chef said lamb population in Australia has halved because farmers can't feed their sheep.

He said next year there will be very little lamb and people need to understand prices are going to increase. People need to realise when they go out to eat now what food costs".

Fassnidge also said in a country that is spoilt for choice it is also important to eat cheaper fish.

"You don't always have to have snapper or tuna because soon there will be no tuna left," he said.

Leatherjackets were a great option, according to Fassnidge.

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This story Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge talks up region as culinary destination first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.