Thursday, 20 May 2010


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” - Anne Frank

Last Wednesday night I went to a fund-raising dinner at Box Hill Institute, which it had organized in association with the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central. It was for a very good cause, a project that was started with Federal Government funding, but which now has to continue running under its own steam. The project is called “Our Patch” and as the Institute says, “…it is a creative training social enterprise created in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs to build employment skills in sustainable gardening and cookery.”

The program is and educational initiative where students are trained in food production and preparation from plant to plate. Vegetables and fruit grown in the “Our Patch” garden are transformed into meals in Box Hill Institute’s kitchens and served at local community events. It is a creative training social enterprise, which gives job seekers interested in horticulture an opportunity to work in production gardening, and develop practical skills in sustainable gardening. The program also includes planting and establishing crops, harvesting crops and landscape gardening. The training programs also allow for students to take the produce and transform it into attractive, nutritious food and serve it according to hospitality industry standards.

The dinner was an event that celebrated the achievements of past students (some of them now restauranteurs or award-winning chefs), current students and staff. The students under the direction of professionals prepared and served all the food in the Box Hill Institute’s excellent function room associated with its training restaurant, “Fountains”. The night was a grand success and much money was raised, which will certainly contribute to the continuation of the program.

The Rotary Club of Box Hill Central which does an excellent job of fund raining, community support, international programs and generally much good work in enabling people’s potential is a staunch supporter of the “Our Patch” project. They made their presence felt at the dinner and it was good to hear of their other fund-raising activities and aid programs.

Now to the dinner itself, which is only fair enough as after all this is “Food Friday”! The menu was created by Guy Grossi of Grossi Florentino Restaurant, one of Melbourne’s fine dining experiences and one of my favourites. The menu was prepared by Lorcan Shin-Yew of Charcoal Lane, David Robson from the Healesville Hotel and Federico Rodriguez from the Agrodolce Restaurant. The Front of the House was hosted by Therese Ryan from Mirka at Torlano Hotel.

The meal was excellent and the service exceptional, made all the more satisfying knowing that we were served by students in training (under the eagle eye of their teachers!). The menu of the six course meal was:

Tuna croquettes


Kingfish Carpaccio, with Eucalyptus Oil, Blood Orange, Pantelleria Capers, Watercress and Piquillo Peppers (accompanied by Trentham Estate Sauvignon Blanc)


Duck and Wild Mushroom Tortellini with Duck Jus and Caramelised Pear (accompanied by Trentham Estate Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir)

Main Course
Castricum Lamb with Herb Bread Stuffing wrapped in Caul, Young Vegetables, Carrot and Tarragon (accompanied by Trentham Estate La Famiglia Nebbiolo)

Peach Semifreddo Wrapped in Double Cream with an Amaretto Streusel Topping in a white Chocolate Case and Lavender Gelée Raspberries with Meringue Langue de Chat (accompanied by Trentham Estate Noble Rot Taninga)

Coffee or Tea with Handmade Chocolates

The vegetables of course were from the “Our Patch” garden and the food prepared by students of the Institute under the direction of the graduate chefs mentioned above. It was a delicious dinner, a valuable fund-raising event and a networking opportunity. However, I was also very pleased to see the labours of students under the guidance of their teachers and the great satisfaction on their faces at the end of a successful night when we showed them our appreciation by our applause when they were acknowledged.


  1. As a rotarian with the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central, I would agree that the night was a fantastic success and that the meal was great.
    The fact that the night generated significant funds for the community including the Our Patch project is even more impressive.
    I would ask that any person wishing to contribute to their community consider supporting Our Patch or join their local Rotary Club.
    The Rotary Club of Box Hill Central meets on Wednesday mornings from 7.30 am till 8.30 am at the Box Hill Golf Club near the corner of Station Street and Riversdale Road

  2. every Italian's home has a magnificent food garden, front and back. Even their weekenders at Rye are food producing.
    So funny that your worthwhile project has to teach this sense to others.
    I believe that in the near future, growing One's Own Food will be the big trend.
    People will fight for homesites with space around them for the purpose.
    Suburban dwellers need to learn to live with the sound of roosters crowing at dawn too. Chickens eat all the bugs in a garden and destroy the weeds too, eliminating the need for evil chemicals.
    Then we could shut down those evil Pace and the hilariously misnomered Farm Pride egg factories.
    Thank you, and goodnight.

  3. What a great idea! As well as raising funds for a very worthy project, the students were able to showcase their skills and things they have learnt at school.
    The meal sounds magnificent!