Former food critic Matthew Evans has chucked in his city life for a taste of small-farm living in Tasmania, that heart-shaped island somewhere down the bottom of Australia. Gourmet Farmer plots the new trajectory of Matthew’s life: from living in Australia’s biggest and busiest city, to a country life in an isolated part of the island state. He’s eager to seriously put to the test his primary belief that we should all be directly connected with our food – either by growing it or rearing it ourselves, or sourcing it from local producers.
On his eternal quest for quality and authenticity, he visits artisan food producers nestled in lush valleys, scattered along the coastal fringes or huddled in tiny towns across the island state. They all share a common commitment to natural and traditional methods of farming – reflected in their unique approach to life and work. These niche producers show him how to make cheese, select pigs, pluck chickens, press cider, and, most importantly, offer him ongoing inspiration and support. He repays them all by doing what he knows best: cooking up a feast made from their own or locally harvested produce.
This time around, we’re in for a surprise. Once a single man trying his hand at farming and experimenting with making artisanal produce, Matthew’s now a fully fledged family man with partner, Sadie, and son, Hedley. It’s time to get serious about bringing home the bacon. Matthew sets about upscaling his farm, which goes from being home for two pigs to 22, and coming up with ways of preserving and selling the extra pork produce from more than just his market stall. An invitation to Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto in Turin affords him the opportunity to go to Italy and France, and learn artisanal ways of preserving meat which might help even out his “drought or glut” issues.
Matthew’s new goal is to become self-sufficient and generate enough income to support his family. His new property, Fat Pig Farm, makes Puggle Farm's 10 hectares look pretty insignificant, and is both daunting and exciting. He could have more pigs, more cows, more sheep, ducks, geese, a dairy, a smoker, a hanging room, a polytunnel, an orchard – all on the one plot of land where everything will be integrated: the pigs ploughing the soil, the orchard providing food for the pigs, the cows delivering non-stop supplies of milk (and whey for the piglets). He could even host paddock lunches out of a mobile kitchen. But he’s no ingénue this time round; he knows he’ll be on a steep learning curve if he’s to achieve his vision, so he’ll need some careful planning. This is the story of Matthew, Sadie and little Hedley taking on the challenge of making the new farm work.