Story and photo by Vivienne Pearson
How many chefs can you fit in a tent? It’s a question that may well be answered by Byron Farmers Market’s new initiative – The Chef’s Tent.
Though I’d love to get all the featured chefs together for a how-many-people-can-you-fit-in-a-mini-style photo shoot, in reality the chefs take it in turns in the tent. Each week at the Byron Farmers Market you can eat breakfast prepared by a local chef using only produce bought from the market.
Chefs on the tent list include Francisco (Francisco’s Table), Terase Davidson (Taste Byron Bay), Sarah de Nardi (Food Creative), Gavin Hughes (Byron at Byron) and Takayuki Kuramoto (Doma Cafe). The day I visited it was the turn of Monique Guterres, from Seaweed Cuisine catering, based in Suffolk Park.
Compared to a restaurant or an industrial catering kitchen, the setup in the market tent is sparse. The chefs work on fold-out tables in a marquee that is not fully protected from the elements. For Monique, this difference is part of the appeal. ‘I love it,’ she says. ‘The catering events I do are top-shelf affairs but this is more Byron.’
Her dish of the day is Egg Foo Yung, an Asian omelette served with rice, bean shoots, shiitake mushrooms, shallots and Asian greens. An optional addition is pork belly flavoured with caramelised star anise.
Every ingredient, except for the cooking oil, is sourced from the market. The pork was delivered to Monique the day before by John Singh of Byron Bay Pork, so it could be slow-cooked for seven hours. The eggs were bought on the morning from Witches Broomstick or Hayters Hill, the rice from Nimbin Valley Rice (did you know that rice is grown in the region between Lismore and Nimbin?) and the greens from a variety of stallholders.
One challenge for Monique is that her cooking is catering rather than cooking to order. However, her main challenge has been that she has to set up at 6am and she is definitely not a morning person. ‘First of all I get a double shot of coffee!’ she laughs. She is ably assisted by staff member Jane and, until 9am, by their Byron High student daughters, Keko and Rosse.
All the chefs are happy to chat while they cook as well as share recipes and ingredient lists. If you enjoy a breakfast, you can then buy exactly the same produce and have a go at replicating the dish at home. Whether you do this in your kitchen or in a tent in your backyard is up to you!
The Chef’s Tent is a weekly affair at the Byron Farmers Market (every Thursday 8–11am, Butler St Reserve). Check Facebook (/Byron-Farmers-Market) for details of the weekly chefs.