Ben O'Donoghue
Ben O'Donoghue Inga Williams IR200112FOOD1

Farmers' markets inspire top chef

A CELEBRITY chef is visiting North Coast farmers' markets to seek inspiration for his new book.

Ben O'Donoghue was at the Byron Bay Farmers' Market yesterday to chat with local food producers and sample produce.

He's in the region to research an upcoming book on the best farmers' markets in Australia.

Mr O'Donoghue has already written five books including 'Ben's Barbeque' and 'Outdoor: Grill Your Way Round the World.'

He has worked with Jamie Oliver at the exclusive Monte's Club in the UK and appeared on the well-known Australian TV show MasterChef.

Mr O'Donoghue first visited the Byron Bay market eight years ago while producing a series called Surfing the Menu, with fellow celebrity chef Curtis Stone.

Since then he said markets have boomed in popularity.

"I think there's a burgeoning market culture at the moment because they represent an ideal way to shop and consume," Mr O'Donoghue said.

"You get to meet producers that have a passion for what they do and they can convey their produce and their passion which gives people a back story to what they're buying."

Mr O'Donoghue admitted it would be hard to decide which producers feature in his book, considering delicious food is readily available in the Northern Rivers.

"The problem with the Byron Market is there's about 60 odd stores I could potentially focus on, so I really could do a book just on the Byron Bay markets," Mr O'Donoghue said with a smile.

Byron at Byron Resort and Spa head chef Gavin Hughes treated market-goers to a cooking demonstration yesterday.

He served slow-braised Hayters Hill beef with Bangalow kipfler potatoes, dried porcini mushrooms and a local wine from Imogen's Farm winery.

Markets manager Mike Stack said the markets host a cooking demonstration each month from a venue that uses local produce.

"Our core value is local and authentic and our farmers range from two min- utes away to 40 minutes away so it's also about reduced food miles," Mr Stack said.

Mr O'Donoghue said his impression is that North Coast residents love going to the markets.

"I suppose it indicative of the culture and the type of people that live here, but also the land here is quite fertile so produce can grow here quite readily."

The book is due for release next year.

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