Renowned American Chef Tom Colicchio—founder of Craft restaurants; receiver of five James Beard Foundation Medals for cooking accomplishments; head judge on Bravo reality TV show Top Chef, and winner of an Emmy Awards in 2010—traveled to the state of South Australia to experience the many food, wine and travel offerings available in the region. As a result of his travels, Tom has become a friend of South Australia, and an ambassador for the state.

South Australia is a brilliant blend of the best of life, combining a relaxed lifestyle and great food and wine with incredible nature experience. While restaurants throughout South Australia’s regions combine the freshes produce, finest chefs, and best wines at affordable prices, and communities across the state are friendly, laid-back and welcoming, the landscape of South Australia varies enormously between regions. There are huge tracts of outback to explore, as well as wine country, farmland and untouched bush. The mighty Murray River flows through the heart of the state and South Australia’s coastline offers sandy beaches, spectacular cliffs, and opportunities for a whole range of water-based activities.

During his travels, Tom had the opportunity to visit South Australia’s WOW experiences, including the Wildlife, Outback, and Wine. Included in his visit were Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, the Barossa Valley wine region, Port Lincoln in the Eyre Peninsula, as well as Kangaroo Island (KI), one of Australia’s icons and widely known as the “Galapagos of Australia.”

Tom’s journey to Adelaide began with a flight from Los Angeles aboard Qantas Airlines’ new A380, as well as a stop in Sydney where he was met by Chef and Qantas Brand Ambassador Neil Perry at the First Class Lounge.

Adelaide

Day 2

 

The Barossa offers everything you’d expect from Australia’s most famous wine region. Winemakers waiting to share their secrets at the cellar door; landscapes etched with manicured vineyards; passionate food producers proffering their wares at country markets; and grand chateaux surrounded by ornate gardens. And it’s all just an hour from Adelaide.

During his visit, Tom learned about the region’s history, owing much of its appeal to the European peasant farmers and English free settlers who made the place home from the 1850s. Throughout the visit he got a quick history of the rich cultural legacy, dozens of festivals and events, historic architecture, and inspiring arts and antique galleries.
Tom’s visit to the Barossa Valley started with a stop at Hutton Vale, home to fifth, sixth and seventh generations of the Angas family. Together, the family runs a mixed farm with produce including the Farm Follies range of artisan chutneys and pickles, as well as the estate grown range of Hutton Vale Vineyard premium table wines. Prime lambs, merino wool & cereal crop complete the farming activities. Tom’s tour included sipping wines at the family table, and watching the ‘nose to tail’ preparation of a pig, part of the old German tradition.


An absolute must while in the Barossa is a visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. Maggie Beer – cook, writer and founder of ‘Maggie Beer Products’, offers tastings and sales of her full range including limited edition seasonal produce.  Customers can browse her personally selected regional specialty goods (some of which are also found in the US), purchase one of her signed books or simply sit back and take in the view.  Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop is a food haven where you can enjoy a light lunch, an espresso coffee or just enjoy a glass of Pheasant Farm or Beer Brothers wine.

Continuing through the Barossa, after lunch at Vintner’s Bar & Grill—where he enjoyed the “best French fries ever”—Tom continued his touring with Life Is A Cabernet’s Ralf Hadzick with a stop at Torbreck Vintners. Here, joined by David Powell who founded the company in 1994, a variety of wines from the extensive portfolio were sampled in the private tasting room on property.

 

The roots at Torbreck Vintners go back to 1992 when David began to discover and clean up a few sections of dry-grown old vines. Near lifeless, he nurtured them back to health and was rewarded with small parcels of fruit that he made into wine.

 

After another tasting at Tscharke Wines, which are estate grown and sourced from the Tscharke Vineyards located in Seppeltsfield and Marananga of the Barossa Valley, Tom concluded a day of wine tasting with an overnight stay at Jacob’s Creek Retreat (now Moorooroo Park) – a historic stone settlement on the banks of the picturesque Jacob’s Creek. Here, after a nice glass of sparkling Shiraz and a deliciously crafted dinner by Chef Wyndham House, absolute tranquility and peaceful surroundings assure a memorable experience for all guests.

Day 3

Other highlights from Tom visit include a stop at the Barossa Farmers Market, a great place to immerse yourself in the Barossa’s food culture. Held every Saturday morning in the historic Vintners Shed near Angaston, the market showcases real food produced in the homes and farms of the Barossa. More than 30 local food producers offer the freshest of homegrown produce from fruit and vegetables to meat, poultry and free-range eggs, along with a huge variety of locally manufactured food products. A breakfast roll, some cheese, and a few other snacks and the Chef continues on his tour, taking him to meet with Ian Hongell at Peter Lehmann Wines for a tasting, followed by a delicious lunch. Peter Lehmann Wines is one of Australia’s most respected and innovative winemakers, creating wines that delight wine lovers around the globe.  Winemaking operations are carried out at a single site located near Tanunda.

 

Ralf continues the tour with a stop at Charles Melton for some delicious Voices of Angels Shiraz. This is the perfect stop to take in the calm Barossa Valley afternoon, and Tom even encounters a few Top Chef fans.

Tucked off the road in the middle of a picturesque vineyard, Charles Melton Wines has won wide acclaim for its range of full-bodied red wines, including the famous Rhone-style red called Nine Popes.

Eyre Peninsula/Port Lincoln

Day 4-5

 

Tom’s next adventure in South Australia takes him from Adelaide on a quick Qantas Link flight to Port Lincoln. Port Lincoln is the centre of the Eyre Peninsula’s massive seafood and aquaculture industry. Seafood is always on the menu at the main restaurants – with everything from King George whiting, western king prawns, crayfish and southern blue fin tuna caught in the region.

Port Lincoln offers a range of wildlife and adventure activities, as well as culinary tours. During his visit, Tom had an opportunity to meet and talk with local prawn fishermen, as well as take a trip with Adventure Bay Charters to learn about the tuna industry in the area, and take part in the Tuna Swim Tour. On this tour guests are briefed on the history of the tuna industry before boarding the purpose built boat for the 15-minute trip to the tuna farm.  In addition to learning how to feed and interact with the tuna, those brave enough like Tom, can jump into the pen and swim with over 60 Bluefin Tuna.

 

Adventure Bay Charters

Located in beautiful Port Lincoln, South Australia Adventure Bay Charters is a family business run by Matt Waller, a fourth generation fisherman who is passionate about the fishing industry and sharing his knowledge with others. Allow Adventure Bay Charters to get you ‘close up’ with Port Lincoln’s famous Bluefin Tuna and learn the intimate workings of this important industry.

After an evening of rest at the 111-room Port Lincoln Hotel on sparkling Boston Bay, Tom is ready for a day out with Calypso Star General Manager & Captain Andrew Wright for a Full Day Shark Dive Tour.

Calypso Star Charter has for 16 years operated world class Cage Diving Tours for the Great White Shark. The Port Lincoln base means it is only two and a half hours from the Great White Sharks at Neptune Island. Its clear blue waters offer fantastic photographic opportunities and an up-close look at the ultimate ocean predator.


Kangaroo Island

Day 6-8

A short 40-minute flight from Port Lincoln, Tom climbs aboard a charter flight that takes him to the Galapagos of Australia: Kangaroo Island (known to locals as KI). Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s great natural wonders, as well as one of its best, and most surprising, tourism destinations.  It’s a wildlife sanctuary without fences, where visitors can see Australian animals in their natural habitat.  Around 30% of the island is protected as parks, and its 336-miles coastline includes excellent swimming and surfing beaches, a spot where visitors can walk among seas lions, spectacular cliffs, and amazing rock formations such as Remarkable Rocks.  The island also has a growing reputation as food and wine region, renowned especially for its honey, eucalyptus oil, marron, and sheep dairy farms.

Tom gets on board charter flight with Felicity Brown from Chinta Air for a quick 40-minute flight from Port Lincoln Airport to Kangaroo Island.

Upon arriving at Kingscote Airport, Tom is met by Craig Wickham owner of Exceptional Kangaroo Island and transfer to Seal Bay. Craig, a local who also acts as the Deputy Mayor for the island, guides Tom for the duration of his stay on the Island.

Seal Bay Conservation Park is the island’s most popular attraction. A breeding colony of sea lions, whose forebears managed to survive the savagery of early sealers, can be seen resting in the sun and nursing their young after feeding for three days at sea. Others ride the waves onto the beach. Today, these rare sea lions are protected by law. Under the guidance of Craig, Tom walks on the beach to within meters of the sea lions.
During his visit, Tom stays at the renowned Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island’s first luxury lodge. Commanding spectacular ocean, beach, and wilderness views, Southern Ocean Lodge is situated amongst the coastal drama of spectacular Hanson Bay and affords guests a unique and timeless nature experience. Twenty-one indulgent suites, simultaneously glamorous yet refined have been designed with uncompromising sensitivity to the pristine environment, the ultimate fusion of nature and luxury. Premium lodge facilities, a signature spa retreat, and personal service and sophisticated dining combine with exceptional experiences and adventures to deliver a stylish and exclusive Kangaroo Island experience. A visit to Southern Ocean Lodge is all-inclusive, from the gourmet breakfasts, light lunch, four-course dinners with daily-inspired menu Chef Jed Archdeacon, to selected alcoholic and all non-alcoholic beverages, exceptional guided adventures and experiences, and island airport transfers.

Prior to embarking on a Food Safari Tour of the island, Tom is joined by prominent Australian chef, restaurateur, author, television presenter, and the coordinator for Qantas Flight Catering, Neil Perry. The two chefs depart for a full day private tour visiting the pure source of Kangaroo Island’s extraordinary food, discovering the diversity of the produce, the passion of the producers and experience the ‘paddock to plate’ phenomenon. Produce on the island can incorporate seafood, artisan cheeses, honey, free-range chickens, marron, native spices, yoghurt, and excellent wine.


First stop on the itinerary is a meeting with Justin Harman, Manager of Island Pure Sheep Dairy and Kate Sumner of Kangaroo Island Food Source for a tour and tasting of Island Pure Sheep Dairy.

The chefs view sheep milking and enjoy tasting fresh Kangaroo Island produce at the Island Pure Sheep dairy and cheese factory.  The cheese products are based on traditional Greek cheeses including Fetta and Haloumi.

Organic honey producers, Peter Davis extract around 100 tonnes of organic honey a year from 1000 hives making them the leading voice in the honey production industry in Australia. They are also pro-active in protecting and promoting the Ligurian Bee heritage, found on Kangaroo Island. Chefs Tom and Neil join Peter of Island Beehive for a honey tasting.

After spotting a few kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies, Craig takes the group into the bush to prepare a gourmet lunch featuring King George Whiting, KI Haloumi, Island Marron, and fresh salads, where Tom get’s involved on the grill.
Following lunch, the group heads over to visit Andermel Marron & Two Wheeler Creek Wines for an overview of marron production and some wine tasting.

Kangaroo Island is a pristine wilderness – a place that has offered protection to substantial populations of native Australian animals, a place of beauty and a place of escape. KI is also big and surprisingly diverse. If you traverse its length you’ll find soaring cliffs, dense forest, towering sand dunes, wetlands, and massive arcs of bone white beach.

In addition to the food and wine touring on the island, Tom visited the Remarkable Rocks, as well as Admirals Arch.

Day 9

In addition to being the jumping off point for many of the Wildlife, Outback, and Wine offerings that the state has to offer, the city of Adelaide and surrounding areas also offer a variety of touring options. One such wildlife experience is cuddling a koala in the Adelaide Hills at Gorge Wildlife Park. See all your favorite Australian animals such as Wombats, Dingos, Echidnas and Fruit Bats. Cuddle a Koala and walk amongst the Kangaroos and Wallabies.

Although there are many accommodation options in Adelaide, both in the city center and North Adelaide area, the Hilton Adelaide offers visitors a very central location to access the city. Also known for its ‘Seriously South Australian’ menu offered at The Brasserie, the chef team at the hotel source the majority of their produce from the Central Market just steps away from the property.