Sprout Tasmania Dinner at Stillwater Restaurant

Somebody asked me last night whether I’d be better off stacking shelves at Coles than I am running a small farm and food business with my husband and writing on the side. Luckily he was a charming person so I didn’t mind being asked.

I have no idea what you’d make stacking shelves at Coles. But I didn’t need to know that to answer the question.

I’ve had jobs where I’ve sold my soul to the devil and given a pound of flesh in industries I didn’t really care two hoots about.

Fiona Stocker and Langdale Farm pork
Photo: Dermot McElduff

Now, I do things that I love. I run a small food business selling beautiful pork  products that my husband has made. When we take our product to Harvest market, we do so with immense pride. Our pigs are farmed ethically, and Oliver makes top notch sausages and bacon with no additives, from pork which the Slow Food movement recognises on its Ark of Taste list. We are increasingly networked and working within the tourism movement in Tasmania with our AirBnB farm-stay rooms, at a time when the traveller experience in Tasmania is recognised the world over as not only the most desirable and one which heads most people’s bucket lists, but also the richest and most enjoyable, unique and special.And I get to write about all this – for my blogs, and for magazines.

So would I be better off stacking shelves at Coles? The real answer is I really couldn’t care less because what I have now, the richness of my world and my family’s life, is immeasurable – we do something that has such meaning and value for us.

All this came home to me last night when I went to the Sprout Tasmania dinner at Stillwater in Launceston, where chef Craig Will cooked pork from Langdale Farm, for the entrée in an intimate dinner for twenty.

Our pork belly was the dish of the night for many a diner there – unbelievable texture, fall apart on the plate, melt in the mouth, with a diamante crust of crackling on top. Craig was kind enough to say exceptionally nice things about it, and two of the men around the table told me it was the best pork they’d ever had – and these are serious fine diners. The dinner was a fine example of what Tasmania – and Sprout – do well, a magnificent bringing together of produce and producers, with Campo de Flori’s lavender and saffron and Three Peaks Organics’ blueberries featuring in two dessert dishes and an amuse bouche.

What an incredibly proud moment, and as I tap this out now in the early hours of the following morning, how I’m looking forward to telling Oliver that his pork was the talk of the town for a brief moment, and how proud I was.

Oliver’s a modest man, not shy but a little reserved. He’d rather chew his left arm off than go out and schmooze, meet people he doesn’t know and talk in front of an assembled party. Actually he’s gotten better at it over the years and even enjoys it despite himself with encouragement, but last night he was at home with the kids, while I did the schmoozing.

Oliver Stocker
Photo: Dermot McElduff

Being the centre of attention is fine by me, I’d train the mirrors in the car on myself if it was legal, and I think the assembled gathering enjoyed my tales of life on a farm.

But one man was the star of the show, without even being there. Well done Oliver, with your mad passion for sausages and bacon. Well done for your obsession with pigs, for getting their diet right and making sure the fat to meat ratio is right. Well done for all those times I’ve found you standing in the middle of the kitchen, getting in my way, gazing out of the window and thinking about pigs. It was worth it. And so would I rather stack shelves at Coles and have an easy life, or would I rather be beavering away here on the farm, writing, farming and hosting travellers?

The real answer is that it’s not a question I’ve felt any need to ask myself, not for years.

Eaten our pork? Love Tassie produce? Leave a comment below!! 


10 thoughts on “Sprout Tasmania Dinner at Stillwater Restaurant

  1. Thankyou Fiona and Oliver.
    It’s the passion, dreams and drive of people like you that bring back the soul into our food. Real food real people and what I consider a real life.
    Congratulations on your stunning product. You deserve yo be proud.
    Jo Nichols.


      1. Not my chickens any more Fiona.
        Was he a contract grower? If so, it should be way more than that. 😄


      2. Yes that would be nice. I’d like that. x
        You let me know a time that suits you and I’ll see if I’m free. I’m free Tuesdays and Fridays


  2. Wow that “nice person” should win some sort of bluntness award. More than a touch of envy there I suspect. I am in awe of your family’s energy, vision and values. There are days when I miss Melbourne something shocking. Then I give myself a reality check and remember the dreary burbs, the hell commute and the loss of self that comes from a working life there. Thanks for the inspiration and friendship. Bonny and Tony


    1. Haha! He was very apologetic and just checking us out because he’s about to take the plunge and do something similar. As for the friendship and the laughs, let’s keep them coming! xxx


  3. It’s such an inspiration hearing your passion Fiona and an absolute pleasure to enjoy the result.. Congratulations to you and Oliver for a sensational partnership with Stillwater last night.


    1. Thank you Elizabeth!! Hope your hubby doesn’t mind his starring role. I ought to come with an advanced warning. I’ll be looking out for news of what you do at your place, and any help or insights you would like, just give us a wave.


      1. Oh I think he was quietly chuffed Fiona! Your storytelling certainly captivated him. With full tummies we talked into the wee hours about dreams and possibilities. Thank you for that. Who knows were our journey will take us but if it includes lovely events like last night we’re strapping in for the ride….


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