A NEW, limited edition coffee table cookbook released this week celebrates the farmers and chefs of Phillip Island and Bass Coast.

‘Over the Bridge’ is the first of its kind for the area and features more than 30 stories, recipes and hundreds of photos, including landscape shots of the Island and surrounding ocean.

Author Sarah Hudson said the 200-plus page book offered a different perspective on the Island and waterline communities, away from the usual tourist attractions, which was not often seen or celebrated.

“Phillip Island hasn’t always been known for its food, with fish and chips probably our signature dish for the past few decades,” she said.

“But there are chefs in this region who are working hard to put our coast on a plate. They are sourcing local ingredients, even foraging on the clifftop for Australian bush foods such as saltbush, and they’re celebrating provenance, and their own traditions, including migrant heritage.”

Sarah teamed up with photographer Steph Thornborrow, working around lockdown and COVID restrictions to create the book.

It was the stories behind the restaurants, chefs and the farm gates that intrigued her.

“We all drive past farms, whether it’s Ventnor or Rhyll, love the landscapes they offer but don’t necessarily know what’s going on behind the farm gate,” she said.

“This book is about supporting food with a postcode: local, seasonal, and low emission.

“The likes of Daylesford, the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula always get the food attention in Victoria, but now it’s our turn.”

Farmers interviewed include Phillip Island Strawberries’ Roger Morris, who innovatively grows the fruit with one arm, following a horrific workplace accident.

Other stories include keen surfing family, the Bismires of Cape Woolamai, who run Ocean Reach Brewing and even source saltwater from their favourite surf break to use in one of their beers, and Ben Dennis who translated his childhood love of fishing and the ocean into the spectacular Saltwater restaurant on the Newhaven jetty.

On the mainland, there is a Grantville truffle producer, a self-sufficient garlic and vegetable grower, and Bassine Speciality Cheeses’ Glen Bisognin.

Recipes in the book include:

  • Traditional Argentinian pastries, Palmeritas, from Gab Caffieri, owner of The Jetty on the Cowes jetty, also Gippsland Coffee Roasters and 3925 Espresso at Newhaven and Kristo’s Charcoal Rotisserie;
  • Seafood chowder, from the San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op;
  • Stinging nettle purée with roasted pumpkin, herb salad and soft feta, from Rachel Russo at Udder & Hoe in Kilcunda; and
  • A traditional apple and rhubarb pie from seventh-generation Phillip Islanders Katie Jeffery and her husband Matt, who run Graze Farm to Plate on the family farm at Ventnor.

Over the Bridge is the first book produced by Chicory Publishing, the newly established publishing arm of the Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser, a locally owned and fully independent newspaper.

Editor Eleanor McKay said when the pandemic hit, many regional newspapers closed their doors for good, but the Advertiser’s owner was adamant it was more important than ever to keep telling local stories.

The book was another way to support the Island’s food and hospitality industry decimated during the pandemic and was designed on Phillip Island and printed in Melbourne.

“The owner fully backed the concept and the team worked above and beyond to get it over the line,” Eleanor said.

“Everyone who worked on it lives here and loves the area, so it’s local in every sense of the word.

“We also wanted the production to be as sustainable as possible, which is why we chose to print in Australia.”

Over the Bridge is on sale now at the Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser office, participating businesses, Turn the Page, and Bass Coast Visitor Information Centres.

Purchase online at pisra.com.au/over-the-bridge. RRP: $44.95