A year has come and gone since we first made the move from our lives in Brisbane to our new home in Ballandean on the Granite Belt, and what a year it has been! People often ask us what pushed us to leave behind our lives in Brisbane to start a restaurant three hours south in Ballandean? To be honest, we didn't really choose it, it chose us.
Being close to the land has always been important to us, with Arabella growing up on a pineapple farm at Mt Pleasant and myself spending a huge portion of my youth in the bush camping and staying on friends farms. So when mutual friends called us to say they heard about an opportunity to take over a restaurant on the beautiful Granite Belt we had to check it out. We first made the trip down in September when the countryside was just beginning to recover from the grips of a harsh dry winter. The land looked hard, inhospitable and cold, but still held an alluring beauty that we quickly fell in love with. This trip was the first time that we had the pleasure of meeting the Puglisis who founded the amazing Ballandean Estate Winery and we were immediately greeted like family. We spent the day talking, trying wines and imagining what we could do with the charming old space that was on offer. We left there that day knowing that we wanted to be a part of this special place, a part of the Ballandean Estate family so we just needed to work out how to make it happen.
The next couple of months were spent business planning, defining our food philosophy, searching for suppliers, trying to build a team and all the while still working jobs based in Brisbane. We decided that it was really important to both of us that we only use local produce, from within three hours of the restaurant (so we still have access to a coast for seafood) and to support sustainable, free range, ethical and where possible organic farming practices. At this stage we had no suppliers locked in and were really racking our brains about where to start. I spent weeks cold calling meat producers in the area trying to find people that would be willing and able to supply directly to us, a product that would fit with our ethos. We were getting nowhere fast and with a deadline to move rapidly approaching, we were beginning to question ourselves. That was until I stumbled across a number for Greg at Boss Meats and made a call that changed my life forever (this may sound dramatic but there really is no other way of putting it!) Greg promised us free range Ballandean pork, organic grass fed beef, goat and sheep and he is based 20 minutes from the restaurant. He shares the same ethos as us and we couldn't do what we do without him, we will talk more about Greg later, This was the push we needed to keep on going, to remind us that what we want to do is possible and to stay strong and true to our local food philosophy.
In late November we shifted into our new home in Ballandean and 12 days later we opened the restaurant doors. It has been a hard year and a steep learning curve but we have loved it all the same. We learnt the true definition of tired and have learnt a lot about each other while spending 100 hours plus a week in the kitchen together (and are much stronger than ever before). We have had some amazing staff come and go and have made some truly special friendships.
Looking back over the year we are so proud of what we have achieved and are blessed to have had the support of all our customers and our amazing families (especially our new Ballandean family). We would like to thank everyone who has been a part of our journey this year gone and can't wait to see what the new year brings.
Stay tuned as we catch up on some of the more memorable moments of the year past as well as what we have planned for the year ahead, introduce you to our wonderful producers, share some recipes and tips from our kitchen, show you around our kitchen garden and keep you up to date with what is happening with our Barrelroom family.
All the best and hope we to see you soon,