Top chef Curtis Stone serves praise for the work of growers
CELEBRITY chef and author Curtis Stone can't take full credit for his delicious array of culinary creations.
To make his recipes, the 38-year-old relies on the hard work of people like Matt Hood.
As the director of Rugby Farms, based in the Lockyer Valley, Mr Hood manages 4500ha of vegetable production - one of Australia's largest growers.
The century-old, family-run farm supplies Coles supermarkets with an assortment of fresh produce including corn, green beans and mini cabbage.
As a chef and an ambassador for Coles, Mr Stone visited the farm yesterday.
"For me it's important to speak with farmers and learn about their techniques for growing top quality produce," Mr Stone said during his visit.
"I've only been here for a short time and already I've seen amazing knowledge that doesn't happen by accident.
"These guys have been at it for 100 years, refining the way they grow over generations."
Mr Stone said growers did a great job in Australia, but believed there was always room for improvement.
"There are always more steps to take and of course we haven't perfected everything just yet," he said.
"But we're lucky in Australia that it's such a big country that offers different growing conditions; where it can be sweltering up north and freezing down south."
Mr Stone said Coles has worked hard to get to a place where 96% of fruit and vegies sold were Australian-grown.
"And I want to keep taking steps and keep putting pressure on the business to get that percentage even higher," he said.
"A lot of that comes from educating consumers to buy Australian-grown seasonal ingredients."
Coles managing director Ian McLeod said working closely with growers to deliver the best quality, had led to an increased demand for fresh produce by consumers each week.
He said Coles now sourced an extra 15,000 truckloads of Australian-grown fruit and vegies compared to five years ago.
Mr Hood, 45, said he doubted consumers truly appreciated the complexities and pressures that were involved in running a modern-day farming business.
He said his farm's different crops were harvested all year, and required moving around the state to grow vegies in the best climate for optimum quality and freshness.
Origin of Rugby Farm
The family business began in 1912 when Ernest Hood (Matt's grandfather) purchased the original Rugby Farm at the age of 19. He named it so because of his love of the football codes, both of which he played.