It’s a bloody long way from London to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island, and the world of hotel management and event marketing in the former is a far cry from everyday life in the latter. However, it’s been a transition that popular cooking school, caterer & gourmet producer Kangaroo Island Source‘s Kate Sumner has made gracefully – and gratefully. I met Kate when I was on the island for the Kangaroo Island Feastival earlier this year and on the day I visited Kangaroo Island Source, Kate was hosting a kitchen-full of visitors who were happily cooking their hearts out with Tim Bourke, head chef from the exclusive Southern Ocean Lodge.
On arriving back in Adelaide from London over 10 years ago, Kate periodically visited her mother who had a house on KI (Kangaroo Island). Every now and again, while visiting, she would take on a small local hospitality or catering job to boost her bank account and fill in some spare time. As so often happens in life, one thing led to another and Kate now finds herself married to a sixth generation KI local, mother to a seventh generation and one of the busiest people on the island. Her food business, which she began nine years ago making fresh patés from local trout and chickens, has developed into one of the most local produce driven enterprises on the island.
After a stint as chef at Dudley Wines, she went on to develop her own line of spice rubs, condiments and preserves, with production soon outstripping her domestic kitchen capacity. Three years ago Kate took the plunge and built her large commercial kitchen – probably one of the few in the country with such magnificent sea views. From there she conducts cooking classes, runs her catering business and produces a line of gourmet food products using her own home-grown produce. On her 125 acres Kate grows the tomatoes, beetroot, chillies and fresh herbs used in her products, resorting to other local KI suppliers only when absolutely necessary.
Her cooking classes have proved enormously popular, attracting private groups who take advantage of the many accommodation options nearby and make a weekend of the trip. From October of this year she will be conducting public cooking classes every Friday for those of us who aren’t quite up to organising a group. When she’s not in her gorgeous new kitchen cooking and teaching, Kate is one of the driving forces behind the Kangaroo Island Farmers Market, an active member of Good Food Kangaroo Island and a national ambassador for both her own products and those of many other Kangaroo Island food producers. I’m exhausted just thinking about what this dynamo fits into a day and not at all surprised that Kangaroo Island Source has made it to the Top Twenty in the second round of voting for the 2013 South Australian Food Industry Awards. (You will find the Top Twenty list here.)
Kate has generously shared with us one of her favourite recipes. She uses American River oysters for this and, having tried them, I can see why. It’s a simple recipe, but one that delivers a big flavour punch and is a perfect way to show off our gorgeous fresh Kangaroo Island produce.
American River Oysters with Smoked Fish, Garlic Butter & King Prawn