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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.

Breaking Bread

Story by Larissa Dubecki | Photos by Danny Wootton
LOST Magazine Vol 19 Issue 190

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

Spring 2019 – We’re so very pleased to announce …….

Since we took on Dairy Flat Farm, our own 38-acre regenerative growing facility 8 minutes down the road from Lake House. Already up and flourishing are five acres of newly developed vegetable and cutting gardens, a beautiful new barn, three hoop houses, a glasshouse; a planted orchard of 300 trees; an existing repaired olive grove of 200 trees and a similarly attended to two-and-a-half-acre vineyard. We’re also delighted to report that we’ve harvested and pressed our first olive oil this year.

But most importantly, we now have our own daily harvested produce coming in. Current favourites include beautifully pungent mustard leaves. These make a delicious salad with just a lick of our EVO, a splash of lemon (from the trees) and some good salt.

You’ll find brassicas – kale of every conceivable variety, purple sprouting broccoli and iridescent Romanesco, steamed and tossed with miso butter as one of our vegetable side dishes and almost a meal in itself. There’s so much more…

We can’t wait to share the other parts of Dairy Flat with you – our beautiful new on-farm Lodge accommodation, the bakehouse and the calendar of workshops on everything from slow-fermented sourdough baking to gardening and beekeeping.

All coming soon! Watch this space.

We look forward to welcoming you to our spring table.

Alla.

The Local - Why the geese?

Opinion: Alla Wolf-Tasker
August 12, 2019 Issue 156

OF ALL things. Why the geese?

If there was ever going to be a good case for Hepburn Shire Council having a sound strategy of stakeholder management, this was going to be it.

Council papers identified this as a likely to be a contentious issue. Just as the “several” complainants who (we are told) were intimidated by the geese, or who had their lawns damaged, were clearly heard and had their issues acted on, other members of the local community would also liked to have had their opinion at least equally considered.

That some of us, myself included, who have lived and worked on the lake for decades, have been members of Friends of Lake Daylesford when it was a group of active volunteers and have seen new “lake initiatives” come and go and consultants’ reports acted on, with varied degrees of success over decades, might even have had something useful to contribute, could have been a consideration.

But certainly, once the swell of opinion began to build, council’s responsibility should’ve been to engage with the community, to respond to mediation initiatives and not just persist against all odds. After all, there was no timeline for removal of the geese in the wording of the council vote.

I love that ours is a community that often agrees to disagree. Living with the opinions of others is part of healthy co-existence, as long as issues of critical concern are dealt with evenhandedness, compassion and above all, transparency. In this case, this decision was also relevant to the extended community of visitors who do us the favour of choosing this region for their travel and holidays and on whom many local businesses and jobs depend.

Many of these folk are regular returnees over decades and have a proprietorial love for this region. A huge number of them made their feelings clear about the removal of the geese.

But never did I realise the extent of the iconic status these birds had developed both within our community and visitors. The outpouring of dismay locally and from all over Australia via various commentary and the over 6000 signatures collected online (all available on record, but not accepted for tabling by HSC), all attest to the fact that this was a much-cherished and enjoyed flock.

Perhaps it was hoped that if the decision was pushed through, the deed expedited, officers instructed to not answer questions from community on timing, the destination of the geese and certainly not on the possibility of any delay or compromise, perhaps it would all just run its course and everyone would just move on. I would like to hope that ours is not a community for whom that is in any sense resolution.

I’ve done a fair bit of grieving over the past two weeks — primarily for the geese of Lake Daylesford who were friends to me and my family for three generations, as well as to much of the local community…

But probably my grief is fuelled even more by the associated loss of trust over a decision so hastily pushed through, with no transparency, no opportunity for input, a lack of respect for the local community and a clear lack of natural justice.

Meanwhile, feral foxes and cats roam, glyphosates continue to be used in the region and our creeks are overwhelmingly lined and in some cases are completely overgrown by noxious gorse and blackberry.

But these hapless geese, friends to many, not needing to be “rescued”, not listed as pests, nor as feral on any government lists, not mentioned in the HSC “biodiversity” plan, have gone…

Alla


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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