After a stint at Bali resort The Slow, chef Daniel Medcalf is back on home turf and set to open Frida's Field, a truly farm-to-table restaurant in Byron Bay's hinterland.
Due to open in September, Frida's is located on a small-scale cattle farm in Nashua, a town 23 clicks south-west of Byron Bay proper. The restaurant will be housed in a converted barn, and will be open for service on Fridays and Saturdays with a menu focussing on sustainable, locally grown produce.
Edward and Jeanie Rawlings bought the property in 2014 (it's been operating as a farm since the early 1900s), and named it after the family's late pet pig, Frida. They've instated regenerative farming practices such as permaculture and syntropic agriculture, a cropping technique that mimics the way forest plants grow naturally in the wild. There's also a 50-strong herd of Angus-Wagyu cows that are rotated through 16 smaller paddocks, and their interaction with the land – trampling the soil, providing manure – allows the pasture to regenerate its nutrients.
Medcalf, who made his mark at Sydney's Icebergs Dining Room & Bar and The Dolphin, says it's these practices that enticed him to the head chef posting at Frida's. "[Edward and Jeanie's] philosophy on farming and food couldn't be more where I want to be," he said in a statement. "It will be a road of discovery for myself as a chef taking the skills I've learned from Sydney and abroad, and applying classic techniques to the freshest, home-grown wholesome ingredients."
Diners can expect veggies plucked straight from on-site gardens; beef cooked over glowing coals; and regional wines and local beers. Bresaola, made from the cattle herd, will be served alongside terrines, pickles and fresh cheeses.
Twice a month, diners can enjoy long-table-style lunches with a sharing menu that changes with the seasons. Winter offerings may include smoked snapper, white-bean hummus with brown butter, whole-roasted heritage chicken and salt-baked beetroot with fresh curd, while the vegetarian menu could feature kale fritters and mushroom pie.
The Rawlings are hoping the venture will shine a light on their sustainable farming practices and educate visitors about the importance of sustainable living.
"The realisation that the way in which food is grown can have such a huge impact on climate change is the driving force behind this project," said Jeanie in a statement. "We'll be reinvesting the profits from our restaurant into furthering our regenerative farm system and sharing the diverse abundance of wholesome all-natural food that is the by-product of this regenerative process."
With the philosophy of simple, sustainable food, forged from the very land on which he operates, Medcalf is ready to take on his newest venture, cattle and all. "Those beasts are like a work of art and I can't wait to showcase their beauty."
Frida's Field is set to open on 25 September at Booyong Rd, Nashua, NSW, fridasfield.com