Owner of Trentham-based du Fermier restaurant

Blessed with rich volcanic soil and world-class produce, the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region is also a drawcard for some of Australia’s most innovative and awarded chefs. One such chef is Annie Smithers, owner and head chef of Trentham-based du Fermier. We get the inside word on her cooking philosophy, where she sources her ingredients, and where she likes to dine on her days off.

Tell us a little bit about the offering at du Fermier.

Du Fermier offers a set menu du jour style lunch in the French farmhouse style of food. We grow most of our fruit and vegetables at our nearby farm in Lyonville and source our proteins very carefully from small farmers with regenerative and animal husbandry ethics of the highest order. It is relaxed eating, a little akin to eating at my own table at home.

What’s your cooking philosophy?

On a philosophical level I lean very hard to the local and seasonal. And I abhor waste, each animal is a life given and needs to be used in its entirety. Each plant-based ingredient has been grown carefully from seed and needs to be allowed to shine on a plate.

What drew you to the Daylesford Macedon Ranges region?

I came to the Daylesford Macedon region 30 years ago. It was to work with the esteemed Alla Wolf-Tasker in her kitchen at Lake House. And I’ve never really strayed far since then.

Tell us about some of the local producers you work with?

We work with the wonderful Nat and Jono of Brooklands Free Range Farm in Blampied, who farm the beef and pork that we use. Their commitment to rare breeds and regenerative farming are second to none. Bruce Rolfe of Oberon Stud supplies us with lamb. He is a passionate land manager and is breeding some of the best Suffolk sheep in Australia. We can also see his farm from our back verandah!

What is it about the local producers in this region that sets them apart?

Our choice of local producers all care passionately about the future of the planet, the care of their animals and are all as small and frugal as we are at du Fermier. None of us wish to take more than our share.

Away from du Fermier, what’s your favourite place to dine out in the region?

For special occasions, I always return to my old stomping ground of Lake House. But for a casual bite to eat, nothing beats the busy, slick professionalism of the charming Beppe in Daylesford. It has all the charm of a country offering but a slick, urban edge.

Do you have a favourite local drop or winery in the region?

Of all the brilliant wines and wineries of the region, it is Michael Dhillon of Bindi that has my heart.

For Annie’s green tomato pickles recipe, click here.

Annie Smithers 016 Simon James photography uai
Annie Smithers

About the author

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Madeleine Blake
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Madeleine is the PR manager at Daylesford Macedon Tourism and the editor of Daylesford Macedon Life magazine. A Woodend local, she loves getting out and about meeting with tourism operators and helping to spread the word about the many amazing things to do in the region. On the weekends, Madeleine can be found exploring the region with her three young kids in tow.