Chef Sophie Budd never thought about seasonal produce until she joined Jamie Oliver’s kitchen at Fifteen Cornwall in her mid-20s. The Perth-based Brit, who runs Taste Budds Cooking Studio, is a passionate advocate of local ingredients, and one of our Buy West Eat Best local food heroes.
“My mum read in the paper that Jamie was opening a Fifteen in Cornwall where I grew up. I applied, got the job and was chef de partie for its first year of opening. Every single day was a different menu, all made from scratch.
We had amazing Cornish produce grown by small producers but we’d also get Italian produce. Their season was about a month ahead, so there’d be artichokes, Amalfi lemons, and stuff I’d never even seen before. It was so exciting to look at what was on hand and go ‘Right, today let’s do ricotta gnocchi with lemons and sardines.’”
After farewelling the restaurant’s first batch of graduates, Sophie came to Australia. She spent three months as a ‘Willing Worker on Organic Farms WWOOF, meeting “real” people in the regions and charming her WA hosts by cooking fresh marron ravioli, following a forage in their Balingup dam.
Sophie fell in love with WA, starting Taste Budds in 2010 and clocking up the kilometres visiting the state’s farming regions through events everywhere from Carnarvon, Western Australia to Kununurra, Western Australia, Manjimup, Western Australia and beyond.
“I love events where I get the opportunity to use exactly what’s growing in the region. When I did Truffle Kerfuffle, I went all out with an apple frangipane puff pastry. I made my own butter with Bannister Downs Dairy Farm cream, and got local flour for a puff pastry strip. I used pink lady apples from Newton Orchards of Manjimup and Valleyview Organics and ground up Oak Valley Truffle Farm hazelnuts. It was all local, except for the sugar.”
Sophie believes chefs have a responsibility to lead by example and honour local, seasonal produce.
“We live in a consumerist world where society is buying anything anytime. The more chefs use seasonal, the more our menus stay seasonal, the more people will start to understand.”
“The first thing Simon says when he arrives is ‘What have you got to give me?’
For any chef, you want to know what’s local and in season because it’s different to what you’ve got and it’s exciting.”