Italian cook Stefano de Pieri makes a return to television with his brand-new series premiering Thursday May 27 at 7:30pm on SBS Food. In Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri, the restaurateur takes viewers on a field trip to explore one of Australia’s most productive regions, the Murray-Darling River Basin, a river community he has called home for the last 30 years.
It’s been over two decades since Stefano broke through with A Gondola on the Murray, giving viewers here and internationally a glimpse of his hometown of Mildura, in regional Victoria.
Now he has new passions to share and people to meet in his new 10-part series, where he’ll explore the connection between the food producer and the consumer and the relationship between food and the environment it comes from.
Born in Treviso, near Venice, Stefano migrated to Australia in 1974 and made Mildura his home in 1991. On this fact-finding food tour, he’ll uncover the beauty and richness of the area, its community and how it is evolving. Stefano will introduce viewers to the people who put food on their table and turn their produce into mouth-watering recipes.
Viewers will meet Australia’s most successful olive oil producer who shares why this golden liquid is the best and purest of all thanks to the region’s Mediterranean-like climate. An essential item in any kitchen, it’s also the hero ingredient of the classic Italian Spaghetti Aglio e Olio which Stefano prepares al fresco in the olive groves.
Our largest freshwater fish, the Murray Cod, is native to the rivers of Australia’s food bowl and steeped in the rich Indigenous history of the region. Barkindji elder, Peter Peterson, shares the ancient creation story of the giant ponde (Cod) that created the Murray River before Stefano’s former apprentices, local Indigenous women Tamara Peterson and Whitney Kirby, prepare a smoked cod recipe by the banks of the famous tributary.
The Darling River is part of one of the largest river systems in the world and an essential part of life for farmers. Stefano meets Rachel Strachan, a sheep farmer and former citrus grower who has seen the water levels drop down to nothing at her property. After authorities release water from Menindee Lakes, the family see water run down the river for the first time in three years. To celebrate, Stefano cooks up a meal of Mutton, prepared consciously to mark the hard times the River folk have endured.
Viewers will see the farmers and producers overcoming the adversity of their ever-changing environment and learn more about sustainability and the innovations in horticulture. From celebrating the annual grape harvest with a feast for 200 people under the vines, to the relationship between bees and almonds and the water crisis many farmers face every day, Stefano goes straight to the source and discovers the flavours, colours, characters and diversity of Australia’s biggest food bowl.
Presenter and series co-creator, Stefano de Pieri, says: “The area to the north west of Victoria, where the Murray meets the Darling River, is one of the most productive areas in Australia. It is a veritable food bowl. In this series, I will introduce you to this river community, from this region’s First Nations people, to farmers and food producers, and explore the relationship between food and the environment. And of course, I’ll create some beautiful and simple dishes that celebrate our region. I can’t wait for you all to indulge in this fabulous feast for the senses.”
Josh Martin, SBS commissioning editor for food, says: “It’s wonderful to have Stefano de Pieri back on our screens in this beautifully shot series which is both informative and entertaining. Fans of A Gondola on the Murray will delight in seeing again the warmth and passion Stefano exudes for great food and quality produce, but no doubt he’ll win over a new generation of fans as he explores important issues such as how to cook and eat sustainably and the challenges our farmers face to put food on our table.”
Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri is produced by Cut To: Productions.
Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri premieres on SBS Food Thursday May 27 at 7:30pm. The series is available after broadcast on SBS On Demand.