Purchasing local - All Cafes and Restaurants should do it.

Cafe Derailleur purchases local- where we can.  Below is our list of local growers, producers and suppliers.  “What if someone starts using one of your producers or growers Eric?” I hear your say.  The more the merrier I say.  And welcome to the new club.  Local production is where it will be at and we’ll all need to upskill for that future.

I started ensuring I purchased local a couple of years after Derailleur opened. It was not my goal to purchase local when we started. We only planned on being a small neighbourhood espresso bar with some light snacks.  Demand grew and so did our staff, our kitchen and our skills.  Working with Michael Ryan at Provenance prior to starting Cafe Derailleur opened my eyes to how local producers and seasonal produce can be incorporated into a menu.  This experience gave me encouragement and inspiration.  Reading and research (Dan Barber and Michael Pollan are a must read) on how small cafes and restaurants can make a difference to the food system added to my drive to do something.  Surely I can purchase local too.  Where to start? That’s hard, but it was easy in the end - I just had to start. Anywhere.  I had a fruit and vegetable bill each week that topped $500 so I challenged myself to spend $100 each week on local produce.

I’d go to the Sunday Market and buy apples from Peter Chambeyron and vegetables from Dominic Torcaso.  And chat of course!  I learned what I could and couldn’t do and how to work with my chefs to plan dishes.  I’d get quinces(my favourite fruit) when they were in season, corn from Whorouly.  It wasn’t enough. And it was hard. Working 6 days a week and then getting up to go to the market at 8am on your day off.  There has gotta be a better way.  OK can local growers deliver? That was the answer.  But we needed refrigerated storage.  So four years ago we built the biggest coolroom we could fit on our small block.  Producers can deliver once a week allowing us to consistently deliver local menu items and make it work for the farmers and producers.

Now it’s great.  Our tomatoes are freighted down from Yarrawonga each week (Ok not seasonal but local and available year round).  Our oranges are dropped off (thanks Sally and Geoff from Warby Citrus), our Avocados make their way in from Greta (now that's a supplier I’ll keep secret), Dominic from Myrtleford still supplies us occasionally.  Jack Herry makes us part of his weekly delivery run(check out his produce in Rose Overburgs Fruit and Veg Initiative Wangaratta -  veggie boxes)  Quinces still find their way to me each year. Shirley from Peechelba Produce is developing her range of seasonal produce and we are slowly working out how we can work together to purchase her harvest.  I haven’t even mentioned the amazing backyard gardeners who send their excess produce my way - figs, limes, cumquats, peaches and pomegranates all given or exchanged for coffees or meals.  And of course I try to make it to the Wangaratta Farmers Market each month.

It’s a challenge this local seasonal produce thing. I know why many other cafes and restaurants don’t do it.  It’s complex. But that's half the fun.  And the learning. Hey Eric we have horseradish. Sure I’ll grab some. Eric we have daikon. Sure. Have you tried our mustard greens? Eric my organic basil has gone crazy in this heat do you want some.  Sure, we’ll process it into pesto and freeze it down. Garlic sure, Dutch cream potato seconds, sure. Kale, mmmmm OK cucumber yep.  See how it works.  If I said no, my producers wouldn’t call back. And I’d have to chase them. 

I am learning what to do with all this produce, as are my chefs. And my waiters are learning to talk to my customers about the produce.  Having customers that get the effort and skill that goes into transforming something seasonal and local is great.  It’s encouraging.  And no we don’t promote the local seasonal thing on our menus because it’s not all the time that we have these items. So yes we are doing our best to purchase locally grown produce but sometimes it’ll be supplemented by a wholesaler.  And that's ok.

Can you help?  Absolutely.  Vote with your feet and with your coins. Eat the local dishes, support the cafes that are buying local seasonal produce, buy food from a farmer at the market and talk to them about the best way to cook it.  You’ll learn a bit and you’ll feel a greater connection to your community. You’ll make more of a difference than I will with one cafe.  All you consumers out there have more purchasing power than I ever will.  So out you go and buy food from a local farmer and see the positive effect it has.  It doesn’t matter where you start or how much you start with.  It matters that you start.

 Our local growers

 Our local Producers

Our local suppliers

Things we make here @ Derailleur

  • Wholemeal sourdough bread .  Every day.  You can even buy it to takeaway @ $7.50 for a 1050gm loaf.
  • Fruit Sourdough
  • Light brioche burger buns
  • Gluten Free Bread
  • Muesli
  • House dressing
  • Chutney
  • Gnocchi