MasterChef Showcases Regional Victoria’s Food Bowl

North-western Victorian towns are going to feature on popular TV cooking show MasterChef Australia.

Tourism and community leaders are hopeful the episodes will prompt more food lovers to visit the region to experience the fresh food produce that’s on offer. The filming in Swan Hill, Mildura and Brim took place in February. Despite travelling to these towns with more than 100 people from the cast and crew, MasterChef Australia was determined to keep several of the details of the challenges under wraps.

Cooking challenge hosted by Salt Company

The episode to be aired next Tuesday night was filmed at the Murray River Salt’s harvest site near Mildura. The company spokesperson, Ailsa Robinson, said much of the salt found in Australian kitchens was imported. It is hoped that with airing this information on a show with such wide reach, consumers will start to shop for local items in specialty grocery stores that are just as good quality as imported goods but with less food miles, meaning that they are far more fresh and are prepared by Australian standards, which are some of the highest quality standards in the world.

Ms Robinson said the company was also making a difference to the environment as the salt flakes were made from saline groundwater. The salt is intercepted from the underground aquifers that are roughly 30 metres below ground level. The salty water is then taken to the company’s own salt mitigation site located in Mourquong. Because of the process, the company are helping to eliminate the salinity problem in the region by taking salt out of the Murray Darling Basin and turning it into high quality Australian product.

The company is bracing for an increased demand for their products as a result of the publicity from the MasterChef episode and is confident it can keep up with demand. A plethora of orders have been made to the salt company with stockists wanting to stock their products.

Show could bring in international tourism

MasterChef Australia Judge Matt Preston said Victoria’s food bowl was chronically overlooked by TV shows and by tourism departments. Aside from the widely famous areas such as the Great Ocean Road, Peninsula Coast or even the Grampians, Victoria’s outer east and west suffer at the hands of mass marketing companies. The areas hold some of Victoria’s precious gems such as the Yarra Valley in the east and Mildura in the west.

Matt Preston feels like it is the job of big shows like MasterChef to champion the lesser known areas of Australia that don’t get the international exposure they deserve. Around 1.2 million people watch the TV show in Australia each night, but the international audience is much larger. It is broadcast in more than 150 countries and Mr Preston said the program showcased much more than just Ayers Rock and Great Barrier Reef.

This mass media exposure has come at a great time for winemakers in regional Victoria as news comes that the Cellar Door rebate will remain as it stands with the latest Federal budget. The rebate recognises the importance of cellar door businesses in driving tourism to regional areas like the Yarra Valley and also creating jobs for locals and thereby reducing unemployment levels and boosting the economy.

It is hoped that the MasterChef episode will reach national and international audience and spark an interest in not only the highlighted areas of the episode, but also to remind locals of the beautiful areas that exist around them. A lot of these businesses rely on tourism as a majority of their income, such as the salt producers in Mildura, the winemakers of the Yarra Valley winery region, dairy farmers near Shepparton to name a few, so in some ways this episode can be a real game-changer for the locals. Be sure to check out the episode on Network 10.