The fresher the food, the better it can taste, and at Tamsin’s Table, they’re just dusting the dirt from their hands.
Set in the hills of Poowong East, Tamsin’s Table is a working farm that brings strangers to the long timber table to share in fine, freshly picked food and engaging discussions. As well as her homegrown feasts, Tamsin Carvan, and partner Allan, offer an array of classes and opportunities to learn new food and cooking skills. With a past life in advertising, Tamsin has deftly utilised the promotional power of social media and the Internet, and has become somewhat of a ‘darling’ to those that lust for the slow living or tree-change lifestyle.
As we dove into our research for this issue, the unique dining experience that Tamsin’s Table offers was repeatedly mentioned in our various conversations. An enlightening discussion with Destination Gippsland expressed the sentiments best, “Tamsin is an exceptional ambassador for Gippsland… she worked hard at getting her product right and it didn’t happen overnight. The result of hard work and tweaking her product to reach what she offers now: an authentic, memorable and personal experience of our region, with a host who is genuine, articulate and humble. Not to mention how delicious the food is! As a result, the visitor satisfaction levels of her offering are through the roof”.
Eager to learn more about her recipe for success, we got in touch with Tamsin for an enjoyable and informative chat.
Before purchasing your Poowong property was the ‘Tamsin’s Table’ concept already a motivation for you? Was it a goal that you had from the outset?
Absolutely not! Moving here was motivated by wanting to get out of the city and to have a bit of space around me. Maybe grow a few things and keep some chooks. Back then I would never have imagined doing what we’re doing now.
What are the most rewarding aspects of the business for you?
It is all rewarding, but nothing is better than seeing familiar faces return to the table again and again – ultimately becoming our friends. Also, being able to head out to the garden to pick beautiful fresh food
that is then served to our guests just minutes later. For me, this is the only way to eat and I’m thrilled
that we can share something (fresh food) that could be considered a luxury these with our guests.
What do you think are the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of a meal at Tamsin’s Table for the customer?
That’s a hard one for me to answer! I hope that our guests leave feeling nourished in every sense, and that they have renewed sense of excitement about the deliciousness of truly fresh food.
Do you think that in sharing a meal with the host, who is also the producer of the food, the guest gains a better appreciation of the meal or are the majority of your customers already ‘foodies’?
The answer to both parts of your question is, ‘Yes’. I think that even people with a good level of knowledge about, and an appreciation for, food are keen to learn more about the joys and the challenges of growing it, of living with animals, of contending with the seasons and the weather, and to understand just how much care and effort goes into what appears on the table. The more we understand, the more discerning we are about what we eat and what we buy and the more easily gratitude for what we have flows into our daily life.
Tamsin's Table presentation - Gippsland Food Growers & Makers event.
Do you foresee further growth in the number of similar ‘paddock to plate’ businesses in the region, especially given Australia’s continually evolving food scene?
I hope so!
What have been some of your best dining or food experiences in Gippsland?
My absolute favourite place to eat is Trulli’s in Meeniyan. It’s simple food done so, so well. The owners Franscesco and Rhia have hospitality, in the truest and most expansive sense, in their hearts. I also love Sandra’s delicious home cooking at Olive at Loch, and cannot wait for Trevor Perkins’ new place, Hogget Kitchen (formerly the Wild Dog winery restaurant), to open (Opened March 3rd – Ed.). I think he will transform the relationship between mainstream restaurant diners and local food producers in Gippsland.
What were the most significant hurdles you faced when establishing your business?
Cash flow, encouraging people to make the trip from Melbourne to an improbably named place 90 minutes
away and then share a table with strangers (Instagram was invaluable for marketing) and finding the time to get everything done to the standard I wanted to do it. Then it was just facing down the fear each day
as I wondered if, maybe, I really was crazy!
Would you have any words of advice to share with other growers and farmers that may also wish to embark in the world of hospitality, as well as food production?
It’s the best thing ever when you get to be part of people eating and enjoying the food you work so hard to produce. But don’t underestimate how hard it is to do. Farming and food production are already seven-day-a-week jobs, and adding another labour and energy intensive dimension to this with the food preparation, no matter how fulfilling it might be, can take its toll.
Outsource your weaknesses if you can (mine are bookwork and administration), look after yourself (your energy is your most precious resource), get focussed on what you are really offering/selling (rarely is it “just food”) and get comfortable with telling your story and letting people into your world. It’s the stories that connect your blood, sweat and tears with the food that you ultimately put on the table.
Inviting Strangers To Your Table - Tamsin Carvan - The Do Lectures.
Olive at Loch
38 Victoria Road, Loch
Farrington Close, Warragul
Gippslandia's paddock-to-plate food recommendations:
Gippy Goat Café
26 Gordon Road, Yarragon
Lindenow Long Paddock
93-95 Main Street, Lindenow
Peppermint Ridge Café
540 Tynong North Road, Tynong North
13 Seymour Street, Traralgon
The Cape Kitchen
1215 Phillip island Road, Newhaven