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Tuesday 21 February 2023

New chef very much at home in the Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley winery Tokar Estate has signed up well-travelled chef Chris Toogood to boost its culinary offering.

Toogood has worked at Bistro Vue, Moon Under Water and Launceston Place and is the new head chef at Tokar Estate, a family-owned winery, cellar door and restaurant, known for its seasonal menus.

Toogood's love for food began on his family farm in the Mallee region of South Australia and has taken him to London and some of Melbourne's best culinary addresses.

“Living off the land and seeing where all our food came from a very young age and formed my strong paddock-to-plate mentality," says Toogood.

"We did everything from reaping the crops and tending to the livestock, to pickling, preserving and seeding using the fruit and vegetables grown by my grandparents.

"We were always surrounded by food and knew exactly how everything was made, and where it all came from. I found myself seeing cooking as a way of life, and once I finished high school, I found a culinary course in Ballarat, Victoria and moved from the farm to start an apprenticeship.”

At Launceston Place in London he worked under Tristan Welch, who trained with the likes of Gary Rhodes, Michel Roux Jr and Gordon Ramsay.

He has also worked at Seville Estate, so knows the Yarra and its artisan producers.

“I focus on getting the best out of the produce the local area has to offer," he says. 

"Food miles and the environmental impact it has is very important to me and the Tokar family. We are surrounded by an abundance of magnificent makers and growers, so it makes perfect sense to highlight the fruits of their labour."

There are several dishes on the menu that look worth trying. Among those tempting me are starters like Yarra Valley salmon caviar, chive crème fraiche and crostoli, and cured pork and roast apple croquettes.

Larger dishes include roasted Wandin heirloom tomato tart, olive caramel and goat curd, and pasture-fed roast beef rump cap with confit shallots, crispy potato and jus.

The midweek set menu offers two courses for $65pp or three courses for $80pp including a glass of Tokar Estate wine.

There are also weekend set menus and a group sharing menu on offer.

Meals are served from 11:45am until 5pm Thursday to Sunday.

For diners wishing to extend their stay beyond lunch, Tokar Estate also has an on-site Bed and Breakfast, The Residence.


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