THE spotlight was on fresh Northern Rivers produce as local mayors battled it out at the Sample Food Festival Cook Off at Bangalow Showgrounds on Saturday.
Lismore, Byron, Tweed, Kyogle and Richmond Valley shire mayors paired with local chefs for a cooking clash using a 'mystery box' of local ingredients provided by members of Northern Rivers Food.
Northern Rivers Food is the first independently funded regional food body in Australia and has 140 members.
The resulting creations were as delicious as they were colourful, but there could only be one winner of each round - decided by applause of the members of the audience after they tried samples.
In the first round, there was a tie between Kyogle Shire mayor Danielle Mulholland's raw blueberry tart, and a slow cooked Bangalow Sweet Pork by Lismore City Council mayor Isaac Smith.
In the second round, Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow paired with Donato Leo of Mongogarie Olives B&B, for a decisive win over Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson and Tweed Shire mayor Katie Milne.
"We used the finest Northern Rivers eye fillet yearling,”Mr Leo said.
"We just sliced it and cooked it in Macadamia oil with a bit of lemon juice, wine, garlic and butter.”
Cr Richardson paired with Beach head chef, Enrico Semenzato, to hand roll spinach and feta ravioli.
Cr Milne paired with Ben Leonardi of Ben's Patisserie Murwillumbah, to make a crepe suzette, garnished with edible flowers, grown on former cattle grazing land.
"It's been fun and really beautiful to see all the food on display,” Cr Milne said.
Cr Milne praised a new generation of young farmers for diversifying Tweed's cane and cattle industry and told the audience about the region's rich volcanic soils.
"We have soils that have been declared significant for the whole state and so there's some really amazing sweet potato farmers and sweet corn farmers and there's a whole new breed of small crop farmers coming through.
"The young generation are getting really excited to be able to farm on such wonderful soils.
"The farming industry on the Tweed is about to bloom.”
Sample Food Festival was a success - attracting thousands of visitors to its food and beverage marketta display at the Bangalow Showgrounds.
It was supported by Northern Rivers Food members including Brookfarm, Stone & Wood Brewery, Salumi Australia, Mount Warning Spring Water and Bangalow Sweet Pork, among others.
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