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If you’ve eaten a meal at Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm in recent years, you’ve had an authentic introduction to the food and farmers of the Scenic Rim.
That’s because Head Chef Daniel Groneberg shares his deep and long-running relationship with the Scenic Rim’s producers in every dish he serves at the property’s restaurant, Kooroomba Kitchen.
Kooroomba is a visually striking place, tucked behind the tiny village of Mount Alford – population 268 – in the Scenic Rim’s fertile Fassifern Valley.
Kooroomba has grown to become an iconic tourism destination as people book it for their dream wedding, delight in photographing the fields of lavender or even charter a helicopter there for lunch.
But the real experience lies in the connection you feel with the dozens of Scenic Rim producers showcased on Kooroomba’s menu, because no-one understands the value of supporting small Scenic Rim farmers like Daniel does.
Daniel lives about 20 minutes down the road, in the vegetable growing hub of Kalbar, surrounded by paddocks seasonally abundant with carrots, onions, corn, pumpkins and more, and a community built around farming.
His support of Scenic Rim farmers extends well beyond his own immediate backyard, too, as he sources produce from the Kerry Valley to Running Creek, Allenview to Peak Crossing and everywhere in between.
To get a true sense of just how loyal Daniel is to the farmers of the Scenic Rim, ask any of the local suppliers he sources ingredients from.
Local dairy farmer Kay Tommerup has supplied her hand-churned butter to Daniel ever since she started making it in mid-2019, and his support has been invaluable to her as a small producer.
“The great thing about Dan is he‘s understanding about the changes that occur in a small farming enterprise and he consistently orders to ensure he can have our butter on his menu,” she said.
“He never questions the value behind our product, he finds a way to use it in the restaurant and he does it not for praise or accolades but just because it’s who he is.
“And the best thing is when you go to Kooroomba, the food is magnificent, and you know that so much of what’s on your plate is coming straight from local farmers like us.”
Visit Scenic Rim spoke with Daniel about why he loves the Scenic Rim, its food and its farmers.
Why do you use so much Scenic Rim produce on your menu?
Because you’d be mad if you didn’t. You can’t have a restaurant in an agricultural area like the Fassifern Valley, and the Scenic Rim in general, without using the product that comes from there. As a chef you’d be crazy not to. It’s worth it for the quality diners receive on their plate, and for the relationships it builds with the local farming community. It’s not just about our menu – it’s about the local produce and sharing that produce with everyone who visits.
What have you learned about the value of using Scenic Rim produce?
Because we were already using local produce and had strong, established relationships with local farmers before the COVID-19 closures, we were able to pick up where we left off as soon as we were able to reopen. We could just reopen our doors and keep going with what we always did, because we didn’t rely on much to come in from outside the Scenic Rim and we already had those local supply chains set up. I’ve found it really important to source product from a central hub, and I use Oppy’s in Boonah as that central hub. A lot of small producers drop stuff off there when they’ve got it, and I also source product directly from some producers, and it’s all based on availability and seasonality.
You’ve got more than 30 years’ experience in restaurants and hotels around the world. Why did you choose to work as a chef in the Scenic Rim?
I was looking for somewhere to live that was rural and still close to a central hub like Brisbane, so first I found a place to live, at Kalbar, in 2015. I lived here for 12 months before I settled on a job here in 2016. It needed to be the right restaurant for the type of food I like to do and Kooroomba emerged as an opportunity. I chose to live here before I chose to cook here, and that says something about how good the Scenic Rim is as a place to live.
Why should people put a lunch at Kooroomba Kitchen on their bucket list?
There’s nothing better than tasting Scenic Rim produce while looking out at the fantastic view that our restaurant offers. It really is an experience you can’t get at any other venue in the Scenic Rim. It extends all the way from Mount French on the right all the way across to Mount Barney on the left.
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We are proud of our diverse communities within the region. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the many lands within the Scenic Rim - the Mununjali in the Centre, the Wangerriburra to the East, the Ugurapul to the West, and all those of the Yugambeh and Jagera language groups. We pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.