Australia - Lachlan Colwill
Maître Rôtisseur
Head Chef, Hentley Farm Restaurant, Barossa Valley
" including winning Australia's national Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition in 2009 and going on to finish third in the International Final, held in New York "

At Hentley Farm Restaurant the farm-to-fork concept takes on new meaning as the chefs not only participate in the process of farming but also cut out the middleman between the kitchen and the diner by doing their own food service!

This model is unusual, but it works. Hentley Farm Restaurant opened in 2012 and since then it has won several awards, including the Advertiser’s Restaurant of the Year twice and Best Regional Restaurant every year since 2013. A mark of its outstanding success, in order to meet increased demand, the restaurant doubled in size in 2015 and the kitchen was upgraded to accommodate even more chefs.

Since 2013 the restaurant has been featured on both Gourmet Traveller and the Australian Financial Review’s Top 100 lists. A further highlight of the restaurant’s story so far, in early 2017 it hosted the Academy Chairs of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Association.

The decision for the chefs to do the food service was an important move, as Head Chef Lachlan Colwill explains, “We realised that our growing team of chefs hold all the great stories about our cuisine, so instead of translating this information to waiters it made sense for the chefs to do all the food service. This was a very important part of our success as we (the chefs) could at first hand gauge the guest’s reactions – good or bad - and quickly adjust our ideas to improve their experience.”

As a child Lachlan says he was always an enthusiastic cook, an interest he pursued with an apprenticeship at 1918 Bistro in Tanunda, Barossa Valley where he won a string of cooking competitions - one for each year of his apprenticeship.

Once qualified he moved to The Manse Restaurant in North Adelaide where he continued to compete successfully in cooking competitions, including winning Australia’s national Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition in 2009 and going on to finish third in the International Final, held in New York. “This was an excellent experience and opened my eyes to the bigger picture of world cuisine and service.”

Lachlan’s move to Hentley Farm in November 2011 came as a result of a conversation with Keith Hentschke, founder of Hentley Farm Wines about opening a restaurant on the site. The concept that access to the farm’s fresh produce would be at the heart of the new restaurant appealed to Lachlan, who, now Head Chef at The Manse, was finding the limitations of a city restaurant to source extremely fresh produce and influence suppliers restrictive.

“The plan for the farm was to offer a similar restaurant experience to The Manse but on a farm, so the chefs had the ability to grow their own produce, forage for wild and native ingredients, and maybe have a few chickens so we could collect eggs daily and make brioche that has a true freshness to it!”

Moving forward Lachlan wants Hentley Farm Restaurant to continue to offer opportunity for ambitious young people in the Barossa region to learn vital life skills, be inspired, hone their skills and hopefully move on to join other restaurant teams around South Australia helping the state’s dining culture to flourish.

Amanda Roberts
Publishing Editor, Revue internationale de la Chaîne