Tasmanian chef Paul West is the host of our new series River Cottage Australia after a nationwide search for the 'Aussie Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall'.
Paul West was born in 1984 in Murrurundi (pop 900) – a small town in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, know as ‘The Crown of the Upper Hunter’.
Paul’s parents ran several businesses in the town, ranging from selling Harley Davidsons, firearms and farm products to buying and selling fox pellets and feral pig meat.
Paul’s is one of three children; his older brother Simon, is and electrician and his younger sister, Nicole, is a hairdresser and beauty therapist.
Paul says he’s inspired by his mother. According to him, she embodies the ideals of good, honest hard work, selflessness and community spirit – and says she instilled in him a strong work ethic that has held him in good stead throughout his short career.
During his growing years and due to his parents’ ever-changing and intriguing business ventures, Paul came across all kinds of characters – from the shack-dwelling mountain hermits who only ever came to town to sell pelts and buy ammunition, to horse-loving Sheiks from the U.A.E. involved in the region’s thriving thoroughbred breeding industry.
Paul trained as a chef, and has worked in all areas of food production from growing fruit and vegetables, as a WWOOFer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) in orchards, to wholesale markets, retail fruiterers and one of the country’s top restaurants.
It was at Melbourne’s renowned Vue de Monde, where Paul worked as a bistro chef and met his partner Alicia. In 2012, both thirsty for a change and looking to the future, they made the move to South Arm, a coastal town south-east of Hobart. Their long-term plan is to one day live off the land, and generally lead a more sustainable life.
Paul is inspired by the sustainable agriculture gurus Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan, and the people of Bhutan – who have pledged to become the world’s first 100% organic farm nation.
Paul was working as a ‘knife for hire’ in various restaurant kitchens near Hobart and as a volunteer with community gardens and permaculture groups. Paul holds a certificate in Permaculture Design.
Apart from his dream of running his own self-sufficient farm, Paul and Alicia are also hoping to start a family in the very near future. Until then, Paul’s boarder collie cross, “Digger”, is the newest edition to the River Cottage Australia family.