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Alla Wolf-Tasker AM is the Culinary Director and co-proprietor, of Australia’s much loved and iconic Lake House in Daylesford. Now in its fourth decade, Lake House continues to collect accolades and awards and remains on the significant national “Best Of” listings.

Alla is herself the recipient of a myriad of ‘Contributions to Industry’ awards, has several ‘Living Legend’ awards under her belt and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her work in the hospitality and tourism areas.

LOST Magazine

Breaking Bread
Story by Larissa Dubecki

It might come as a surprise to learn that Alta Wolf-Tasker, the one-woman revolution who created Daylesford’s iconic Lake House out of a weedy paddock more than 30 years ago, has anything left on her to-do list.

But despite running the lauded restaurant along with its boutique accommodation and spa, its sibling Wombat Hill House café and being an all-round champion of central Victoria – with the Order of Australia to prove it – Wolf-Tasker stilt longed for the authenticity of her own freshly baked bread.

“it was a dream of mine to offer a Larger variety of good bread to our guests at Lake House but our kitchens were operating to capacity,” she says. “With the Bake House we’ll be able to produce stow-fermented sourdough bread as well as beautifully laminated croissants, viennoiserie, donuts, breakfast buns and all sorts of deliciousness.”

The Bake House is part of a bigger story in the Wolf-Tasker world. It’s part of Dairy Flat Farm, the latest passion project for Alla, artist husband Allen and daughter Larissa.

Located in the picturesque town of Musk, seven kilometres south-east of Daylesford, this 38-acre property features a huge established orchard, vegetable garden, vineyard, olive grove and the beautiful farmhouse itself.

Housed inside a cellar accessed through a tunnel beneath Dairy Flat’s six luxury-suite Lodge, the Bake House has lured the singular talents of baker Michael James, from Melbourne’s renowned Tivoli Road Bakery, to collaborate in its operation and run regular sourdough baking classes for Lodge guests., “He’s an amazing chef and a great teacher,” says Wolf- Tasker. “When the property came on the market, I had all kinds of notions whizzing about in my head. I visited Michael for a chat and it turned out he and his partner were selling Tivoli Road and he was interested in getting involved in new projects… so it was all serendipitous.”

Wolf-Tasker envisages a broad symbiosis between all arms of her empire and the Bake House. Its produce wilt be served in the Lake House restaurant and Wombat Hill House, and guests will be able to visit the Bake House as part of farm tours and workshops. Guests staying at the Lodge at Dairy Flat Farm will also be able to order sourdough crust pizzas.

“I imagine that guests going on a morning ramble around the farm might pop in and chat to the bakers over a coffee. It’s a beautiful space and overlooks some of the gardens around the Lodge. A long avenue of herb plantings leads away from the bakehouse to the olive grove and vegetable gardens beyond,” says Wolf-Tasker, who believes Dairy Flat Farm wilt be unique in Australia in having its own bakehouse.

Also on the cards: Open days and market days during prolific growing periods at the farm when visitors will be able to stock up on beautiful fresh vegetables as well as good bread and pastries. People attending these bucolic events might not realise they’re part of another gentle food revolution.

“I’m old enough to remember when all the old country bakeries around here were bought up, their beautiful wood-fired ovens destroyed and all bread began being distributed from a centralised industrial baking facility,” says Wolf-Tasker. “What a terrible toss for our heritage and food culture. The sooner we move back to more small-scale baking operations, producing good bread throughout villages and local communities, the better.”

 

Dairy Flat Farm Daylesford
238 Dairy Flat Rd, Musk
dairyflatfarmdaylesford.com.au

delicious. on Sunday

You won't believe what Alla Wolf-Tasker is planning next
Story by Dan Stock

The force behind Lake House in Daylesford, one of the country’s most celebrated restaurants and regional hotels, the unstoppable Alla Wolf-Tasker is now extending her vision to a new pioneering project.

It’s a brave person who gets between Alla Wolf-Tasker and a good idea. As daughter Larissa tells it, the latest labour of love for the family behind Daylesford’s luxurious Lake House should really never have happened.

Champion of all things local, seasonal and sustainable, Wolf-Tasker had long longed to “put my money where my mouth is” and start growing produce for the restaurant while at the same time offering a new experience for guests.

The family had been searching “for ages” when a property just seven minutes’ drive from Lake House came up for auction. “Mum and I walked around it and loved it,” says Larissa. “We brought Dad and Rob [Larissa’s husband] back, and we got really excited. But we decided it wasn’t the right time. Rob and I were going to start a family, and it would take too much resources. We’d look for something else. But then Mum went and bought it!”

Wolf-Tasker and her mother, Katherine, planted all the trees on the bare Lake House site 30 years ago, so she took the farm’s drive lined with silver birches as a sign it was meant for the family. “The thing I love most about it,” she says, “is where Lake House had not a tree on it, this already had a beautiful Manchurian pear walk, silver birches on the drive. My mother planted the birches by the lake [at Lake House]. Everywhere we plant birches because it reminds me of my family – just that connection. There were a lot of things that ticked boxes.”

Her husband, Allan, took her out of town on the auction weekend to stop her participating, but the pull of a property just down the road with the potential to offer everything she wanted to add to Lake House proved too strong. Alla phoned in the winning bid.

“I kind of shocked myself that we got it,” she says. In June last year, the family got the keys to Dairy Flat Farm and have been flat chat since then transforming the 15-hectare property into a working farm.

Read more here.

Good Food Magazine

How Alla Wolf-Tasker and the Lake House in Daylesford pioneered a regional rebirth
Story by Larissa Dubecki

In an age in which any flash-in-the-pan chef brings out a cookbook after two years in business, three decades deserves a street parade and glitter cannon – or, in Alla Wolf-Tasker’s case, a book pretending to be about Lake House but mostly celebrating the small producers who have helped make central Victoria one of the nation’s most exciting food destinations.

There’s never a very long time between drinks at this scatter cushion-strewn paradise on the shores of Lake Daylesford. Lake House is an idyll and aperitivo hour is its north star. But it has been a while between books – 10 years, to be exact – which makes Three Decades On: Lake House and Daylesford not just a worthy marker of the passing years but a timely reappraisal of a food world that has irrefutably changed since Alla and Allen Wolf-Tasker first spied their future on a trash-filled piece of land next to a waterway that was more swamp than lake on the edge of a depressed country town.

It’s an origin story Alla Wolf-Tasker is understandably tired of retelling, but much like a child with a favourite book, its appeal to the food-interested public is undiminished. The car wrecks they had to pull from the waters. The caravan they lived in during the four-and-a-bit years it took to build Lake House. The Thursday trips between their day jobs in the city, infant daughter Larissa strapped in the back seat, to spend four services in their tiny 45-seat restaurant convincing Australian diners more interested in toasted cheese sandwiches and Devonshire tea to submit instead to the pleasures of twice-baked goats’ cheese souffle, shiraz-glazed pigeon and tarte tatin.

To put Lake House’s 34-year odyssey into a broader perspective, its debut in 1984 was the same year Tansy’s was the Good Food Guide’s best new restaurant and an unknown Ferran Adria was being hired as a line cook at a French restaurant called elBulli.

Lake House itself in its first year received the GFG endorsement of being “worth a special trip to Daylesford”, then a forgotten town surrounded by Big Agriculture where eight shops operated along the otherwise deserted main street and unemployment hovered at more than 20 per cent.

That they not only survived but thrived, adding accommodation, a spa, cooking school and cafe and scooping up countless awards in the process, is all the more impressive given that 30 years in the restaurant world is like 90 in the rather duller place known as the real world.

Wolf-Tasker laughs now at the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality (not to mention the tears of her Russian mother, who owned a dacha – small country house – nearby and was aghast at her daughter’s mad plan), but history did prove their “unrealistic vision” correct. Lake House is often credited – quite rightly – with kick-starting regional destination dining in Australia at a time when travelling within Victoria was distinctly unfashionable and the smart set flew to the Gold Coast for their holidays.

Read more here.


Some of Alla's Awards

  • Member of the Order of Australia

    ‘Legend’ – Good Food Guide

    Outstanding Contribution to Australian Food – The delicious. Produce Awards

    Outstanding Contributions to Hospitality – Gourmet Traveller

    Outstanding Contributions to Hospitality – RCA

    Living Legend – Melbourne Food & Wine

    Legend of the Industry – The Foodservice Awards


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