Venture into The Hastings for a meal and you will be pleasantly surprised by the vast array of cuisine choice.
From Asian influences, to seared steaks, from organics to local wine, the bevy of local producers supplying these restaurants inspire local dishes to be flavoursome, colourful and prepared by passionate chefs with a flair for food.
Locals may know the ins and outs of eateries in the Hastings through well built reputations or word of mouth, but for the thousands of visitors who holiday in the Hastings, how will they know if they are biting into the best part of our region?
What if there was a stamp that certifies the skill of our finest food outlets? A stamp that acts as a guide to pave the way for food lovers and wine tasters, ensuring they experience the unique sensations of the area?
Well, the Journey of Flavour badge is one that can be proudly worn on the shopfront window of businesses in the hospitality industry and is soon to be a hard earned and respected badge to bear.
The value of our unique food culture is regarded very highly, as it embraces a broad spectrum of styles – some would say a blend of country and coastal inspiration and international touches.
Linda Hall, acting Tourism Manager for the Hastings, knows just how important the food, wine and tourism industries are to Greater Port Macquarie.
“Food and wine are important elements of the visitor experience, and this is evidenced by the fact that over 70% of visitors to greater Port Macquarie expect to include eating out as one of their key activities during their stay.”
Last year, as one of Council’s Industry Development Program initiatives, a Food Wine and Tourism Taskforce was formed to develop a cohesive Food-Wine-Tourism program for our region. With some of the most enticing and creative restaurants in the region, ideas were put forward to promote the food identity the Hastings has established.
A volunteer group of food and wine industry representatives convened by Council following a public invitation have met regularly, and their expertise has contributed to a new and proactive program of providing dining recognition.
It was felt a clearly defined program would help businesses better utilise existing assets, take advantage of new opportunities in a cost-effective environment, and grow the region’s capabilities overall. A comprehensive action plan has now been shaped, and its implementation is about to begin.
“The aim of our future tourism destination marketing activities is to build these food and wine experiences into our campaigns and promotions, in order to showcase the variety of food and wine related activities available in greater Port Macquarie. Whether it is undertaking a cooking class, going to a food or wine festival or event, sampling locally grown produce, going to a restaurant or café, or visiting a cellar door at one of our well renowned local wineries, there are so many food and wine experiences for both visitors and residents alike to enjoy,” Linda says.
It is hoped the strategy will work well to strengthen participants’ market yields and promote great dining in the area. The Journey of Flavour brand will facilitate media promotion of the region and help develop the identity of Greater Port Macquarie as a Food & Wine destination – both at home and among visitors and potential visitors.
“The Journey of Flavour brand will make food and wine tourism promotion of the area more concise and develop the identity of the region,” Linda adds.
The first stage is the application of a branding strategy for providers – restaurants, wineries and other primary and secondary producers – under the banner ‘Journey of Flavour’. The theme was devised through a series of workshops and research among the relevant industry sectors. The Journey of Flavour is a program that aims to develop strong sales and marketing campaigns to attract food and wine customers from within and outside the Greater Port Macquarie Region.
The program aims to grow and develop local events that incorporate a quality food and wine experience. The program provides access to a range of locally produced products aiming to link the food and wine networks, including growers, producers, restaurants, cafés, breweries, wineries and providers.
As a leader in the producer industry, the brand is a concept that certainly appeals to John Cassegrain and his team at the winery.
“The Journey of Flavour program represents an excellent opportunity to become involved in regional branding,” says Liz Giles, Marketing Manager at Cassegrain Wines.
“We will indeed be a part of the campaign – not just the winery as a single entity, but to be associated with the other excellent products in the region.”
Liz believes it will be a form of collective marketing to promote the Hastings. She also has a forecasted idea that it will spur more growth in the industry.
The Journey of Flavour will incorporate an accreditation process, to ensure high quality products and services. The brand will also serve as a banner for major food and wine events outside the region. Liz states that the program will travel well with the Cassegrains business, not just in the local area, but around Australia.
“When we attend conferences, we take information and pamphlets. And if people think our wine is great quality, they can take that Journey of Flavour identity and associate it with other accredited businesses in the Hastings.”
Much like the branding style of the Heart Foundation Tick, diners can identify the emblem and know that the business has undergone a series of examinations, critiques and reviews from food and wine connoisseurs with sufficient knowledge of produce. Journey of Flavour is to set a new benchmark for producers of food, who will be expected to reach the culinary standards that are set before them.
The emblem will be local and independent from any other in the country, making it truly our own.
Lou Perri, who co-owns and operates the prestigious restaurant ‘The Stunned Mullet’ at Town Beach in Port Macquarie, believes the campaign will endow premier restaurants with the recognition they deserve.
“It’s a consolidated effort among industry leaders to heighten awareness not only of their own position, but of the area as a whole. There will be a benefit to everyone who becomes accredited – and the campaign will highlight the entire region as a food and wine destination,” Perri said.
A Journey of Flavour logo is available to participants for use at point of sale, in advertising, for promotion and on packaging of produce and products and at restaurant entrances. It is expected to appeal to every business associated with dining and food produce as an accredited and compulsory part of their identity. As a brand, it will represent quality flavours and a joyous experience. It also identifies businesses who are passionate about their quality products and services.
The next steps in the journey will include the development of promotional material, including a dedicated Web page and the creation of touring products aimed at attracting overnight visitors, day-trippers and local people.
The journey will also include the coordination and joint promotion of food and wine events across the region and outside the region. Certainly, the brand will cement the Hastings dedication to providing only the best food and wine experience for locals and guests.
So, in coming months when you see the Journey Of Flavour brand, you will be certain you are going to experience cuisine at its local best.