COOKING DEMONSTRATION: South Burnett Food Ambassador Jason Ford makes feta and corn fritters served with crispy bacon and a pumpkin avocado salsa, at the Blackbutt Avocado Festival on September 8.
COOKING DEMONSTRATION: South Burnett Food Ambassador Jason Ford makes feta and corn fritters served with crispy bacon and a pumpkin avocado salsa, at the Blackbutt Avocado Festival on September 8. Jessica McGrath

Why we should be proud of our region's food

JASON Ford, the South Burnett's very own food ambassador, has always been drawn to the culinary arts.

Starting his chef journey at a coffee shop 30 years ago, his interests were inspired by his co-workers.

"When I first left school, I basically grabbed the first job I could find, which happened to be washing dishes,” he said.

"Once I was working I got really fascinated about what the chefs around me were doing. I thought I'd like to learn more about it, so I enrolled in a TAFE course.”

Once Mr Ford got his certificate, he became an apprentice chef.

"I loved the creative side of it, but also the technical aspects of it too. They both fascinated me, and I've never done anything else. I just feel completely comfortable being in the kitchen,” he said.

Mr Ford has lived in the South Burnett for 20 years now, and even before being a food ambassador, he admired our local produce.

"I became interested in our basic regional products, like peanuts, pork and oils very early on,” he said.

"It was the quality that caught my attention, not just because they were regional, but because it was the best I'd ever had.

"The first time I tried local olive oil, it was sweet and fruity, and a really bright green colour. I'd never seen that before. The processed stuff you'd find in metropolitan areas don't have that kind of quality.”

Mr Ford said he has been trying to showcase what the region has to offer for the past 20 years and believes these last five years have been very successful.

"People are now recognising the region and are not strangers to the South Burnett,” he said.

As the official South Burnett Food Ambassador, Mr Ford has performed cooking demonstrations at the Pumpkin Festival, Avocado Festival, BaconFest as well as Wine and Food in the Park in previous years.

This year, he is looking forward to bringing local produce for a cooking demonstration at the Big Rosella Festival in Woolooga in May.

Mr Ford will also showcase our region in July at Brisbane's Regional Flavours festival.

"About 100,000 people come, or more, over two days, and I'm on stage there with the MasterChef judges and Miguel from The Living Room, so it's a really exciting time,” he said.