Paddock to Plate segment at McIntosh and Son Mingenew Midwest Expo set to cook up a storm

Shannon VerhagenThe West Australian
Email Shannon Verhagen
Watheroo farmer and Cocky Likes to Cook founder Brad Millsteed, Mingenew farmer and The Farmers Cook WA founder Fiona Cosgrove, and former West Coast Eagles forward Mark LeCras during the Paddock to Plate presentation.
Camera IconWatheroo farmer and Cocky Likes to Cook founder Brad Millsteed, Mingenew farmer and The Farmers Cook WA founder Fiona Cosgrove, and former West Coast Eagles forward Mark LeCras during the Paddock to Plate presentation. Credit: Cally Dupe

WA farmers, foodies and a former AFL star will cook up a storm at this year’s Paddock to Plate event at the McIntosh and Son Mingenew Midwest Expo this year.

Watheroo farmer and Cocky Likes to Cook founder Brad Millsteed will return for his fifth year behind the stove.

The mental health advocate will team up with West Coast Eagles star Matt Priddis, who recently played in the Upper Great Southern Football League’s Talk To A Mate round with the Williams Cats.

The pair plan to put something tasty together using meat sourced from the WA College of Agriculture — Morawa. “We’re using good local ingredients,” Mr Millsteed said.

“I don’t have a supermarket around the corner, so a lot of it is just simple cooking.

Watheroo farmer Brad Millsteed.
Camera IconWatheroo farmer Brad Millsteed. Credit: Countryman, Cally Dupe

“We might look at a lamb backstrap, something that is quick and easy to put on the weber.

“I’ve met Matt before and I’m looking forward to catching up with him again. He’s a fantastically humble guy, just a really nice bloke.”

Matt Priddis in 2017.
Camera IconMatt Priddis in 2017. Credit: Daniel Kalisz

Steve Dalgleish of Dalgleish Catering and renowned Perth pizza chef Theo Kalogeracos will also pair up in the kitchen, while former Mingenew chef Kiri Bolton returns with her take on family favourites.

They will cook one session a day, while Mingenew farmer and The Farmers Cook WA founder Fiona Cosgrove brings the banter as MC.

“I like to go out and make people laugh,” she said.

“Before I did this I was on the catering committee for a long time and was out the back cooking behind the scenes, but to be able to be out in front of people and provide some entertainment is great.”

Bringing the State’s farming communities together is even more important this year, after last year’s Expo had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and many Mid West communities still recovering from the impact of cyclone Seroja.

Mrs Cosgrove said the Expo had a “huge” impact on the town, supporting local sporting and community clubs and bringing old friends back together.

“It’s good for the community as it raises money for us to run our clubs — that’s how we survive,” she said.

Mingenew farmer and The Farmers Cook WA founder Fiona Cosgrove during the Paddock to Plate presentation.
Camera IconMingenew farmer and The Farmers Cook WA founder Fiona Cosgrove during the Paddock to Plate presentation. Credit: Countryman, Cally Dupe

“And the social side of it is great. Kiri is excited to come back and see everyone ... and Brad was the MC at Geoff and I’s wedding and played cricket with him for a long time. So it give us an opportunity to catch up with friends who are a bit further afield.”

As well as having local chefs and farmers in the kitchen, there will be a big focus on using local WA produce, with organisers keen to work with local growers to source home-grown produce for the event.

Mr Millsteed said the event would not only showcase local produce, but provided an opportunity to bring the 6Bs — blokes, barbecue, bonfire, bonding, beer and bulldust — to the table. “It’s very easy to get wound up in ag and farm life and let it become consuming of all your time,” he said.

“It’s just highlighting to blokes that it’s OK to cook.

“We all need a hobby and hobbies are really important for your wellbeing.”

Mr Millsteed has become one of the State’s biggest mental health advocates in recent years, starting the #cockylikestocook on Twitter to encourage farmers to get in the kitchen and the mental health benefits it can have.

“I’m too old for team sports so cooking is my hobby, and it works well as my wife and I both work,” he said.

“It’s really cool now to sit there and see — generally on the weekends — when farmers use the hashtag and show everyone what they’re cooking.

“It’s really good to see people embracing that and owning it.”

Mrs Cosgrove is also a strong mental health advocate and has amassed more than 2300 followers since starting her Facebook page The Farmers Cook WA, providing a forum for people to share cooking recipes and tips for cooking on-farm.

“It is meant to be about day-to-day living as a farmer and a farmer’s wife,” she said.

“I originally started it as I was cooking for 10-plus guys at seeding and harvest, as well as my family and was thinking ‘what the hell do I cook for all these people?’”

She said people followed her page for different reasons, from getting tips in the kitchen to talking about mental wellbeing, and that was the beauty of it.

The 2019 event featured former West Coast Eagles small forward Mark LeCras, who cooked up a meal of fresh barramundi from the Coaker family’s broadacre farm at Morawa, pairing it with a lime and chilli dressing.

He was brought to Expo by Bankwest and he shared the stage with two much-loved WA broadacre producers — Mr Millsteed and and Ms Cosgrove.

LeCras, who kicked a personal best of 12 goals against Essendon in round 16 of the 2010 season, said he enjoyed “having a bit of a cook- up” with the pair.

His session with Mr Millsteed and Ms Cosgrove focused on “surf and turf”, with barramundi from Morawa and lamb backstraps from Three Springs butchers, served on fresh Mingenew Bakery breadstick.

Despite growing up in Cervantes, 2019 was LeCras’ first Expo, and he found himself posing for plenty of photographs with parents and children alike.

The Paddock to Plate event will run on both Wednesday and Thursday, with three sessions a day on the Main Stage.

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