Culinary tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. It came as little surprise that mother-of-two, Jerolina Rankin of Carnarvon on Australia’s Coral Coast, took out Western Australia’s Signature Dish competition with her grilled Shark Bay wild chilli Prawns and Mackerel mousse in a zucchini noodle seafood broth.
The annual competition, run by the Department of Agriculture and Food, aims to showcase the best of WA food by bringing together talented home cooks from the Gascoyne, Kimberley, Swan Valley & Surrounds and Peel regions with popular professional chefs from Perth as regional mentors. The Gascoyne produces 80% of Western Australia’s annual fruit and vegetable supplies and was represented in the competition by Carnarvon.
Peter Manifis of InContro was once again selected as regional judge for the Gascoyne entries and remarked that “[Jerolina] has been a finalist two years running; she’s just kept going at it, like the little engine that could. And today it’s all paid off”. Manifis selected Rankin’s dish as a finalist due to its significant regional provenance with over ten ingredients from the Gascoyne including Shark Bay’s wild prawns, mackerel and blue-swimmer crab accompanied by vegetables, chillies and herbs from Carnarvon.
Western Australia has an excellent international reputation for sustainable fisheries management with both Shark Bay [Wild] and Exmouth Gulf recently receiving the international independent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for their prawns. “When it comes to food, our incredibly diverse region really has it all – the pristine world heritage areas of Exmouth and Shark Bay where the wild prawns are managed in an incredible sustainable fishery, to the Carnarvon River Delta, an oasis of tropical fruits, vegetables, herbs and everything in between.” according to Doriana Mangili, Executive Officer of the Gascoyne Food Council.
From a young age Rankin’s grandmother instilled in her a deep respect for food; this was exemplified by her winning seafood broth, which minimised wastage using crab and prawn shells with fish bones. Rankin notes, “I really became a foodie when I had children, sharing my passion to explore food and expressing that food for my family”.Between May and October you’ll find Rankin at the Saturday morning Growers Market in Carnarvon’s town square.
Four regional finalists faced off for the WA Signature Dish (state finals), held as part of the 2015 Margaret River Gourmet Escape. The festival is a key event for Tourism Western Australia’s Taste2020 food and wine tourism strategy.