Sometimes you eat in a beautiful restaurant and cannot help being impressed by the perfect vegetables or delicious hand cut chips.
In Melbourne, there is a good chance that the produce may have come from Hawkes Vegetables on the Mornington Peninsula.
“The business started essentially with the chefs in mind, I was working with another grower, who was quite well known within the restaurant/ provedore industry. I started growing product for him and from there it just sort of grew and we started branding our own product,” says Richard Hawkes who manages the operations of the family business.
“I used to work in a restaurant, Walter’s Wine Bar, it was a really well regarded restaurant. Walter and Maria Bourke were the stalwarts in the late eighties/ early nineties in the Carlton North area. I learnt a lot by observing what was going on there.”
Hawkes says that they don’t tend to jump on board with food fads, as it is very expensive to get in and out of a product.
“If you have a particular product, like kipflers, that everyone wants, we might as well keep growing them until we saturate the market, and we are nowhere near that yet!
“We have people in other states wanting products and we are only sending half of what they are requesting, so when they stop asking we will stop growing.
“The main thing is trying to keep an eye on demand rather than what is new. Something like kale, by the time you have put all the effort into introducing that stuff… it sort of takes a fair bit of time to understand how to grow things.”
Hawkes have also developed a range of small bags of washed kipflers for home cooks that are sold in high-end fruit shops.
“A lot of chefs use those as well because they are ready-to-use. You’re not paying a kitchen hand $20+ an hour to go and scrub kipflers, because we can put two tonne through our washer in an hour.”
And what are Richard’s recommendations for eating all those delicious potatoes that they grow?
“The kipflers are really good for potato salad or my favourite thing to do is partially boiling them and then pan frying them in duck fat- that is really tasty! The Sabagos are good for everything, a good all-rounder for mashing, roasting or hand cut chips. The Russets are great for hand cut chips, that is their thing and the Nicolas are low GI, they are waxier and a bit more dense and great for steaming or roasting.”
661 Boneo Road,
ph 03 5988 6350