Table & Taste Dinner Party Club showcased at Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days

Email Shannon Verhagen
Dowerin students Tahlia Brown, 11, Amber Richards, 11, helped serve the feast Bencubbin chef Sharnee Beard cooked up.
Camera IconDowerin students Tahlia Brown, 11, Amber Richards, 11, helped serve the feast Bencubbin chef Sharnee Beard cooked up. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Shannon Verhagen/Countryman

Once a month, women of the Wheatbelt get together for a three-course meal paired with wine.

It’s not at a fine dining restaurant in Perth, rather it’s in the dining room of their homes.

It is part of a growing movement to get women in farming communities together more often, started by Bencubbin agronomist and farmer Sharnee Beard.

And she brought some of her much-loved recipes to the crowds at Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days.

The idea stemmed from her move back to the family farm after studying in the city, where she had enjoyed dining at various restaurants.

She wanted to bring good food to those in rural and remote WA, and soon her first business — designing custom menus for farming families — was born.

It morphed into cooking classes and catering at dinner parties and events, and in 2018, her Table & Taste Dinner Party Club — was launched.

A similar concept to a book club, women in farming communities form a group and get together each month, but instead of reading, they get a wine-paired menu delivered to their door to have their friends over for a nice meal.

“Cooking for women all over the Wheatbelt, there was this real running theme that people didn’t have their friends over because they were too scared to cook and they didn’t know what to cook,” Mrs Beard said.

“They wanted to do it but it just stressed them out. When you live in the country you don’t have access to going to restaurants and it can be really isolating and I’ve dealt with that especially after I became a new mum.

“I kind of created the dinner club that I wanted in my own life — a monthly meet-up with friends where we can enjoy something fun together and have a shared experience.”

It is not just ordinary food she likes to cook — it is special food to create memories with. Cooking seven times over the two-day event, she shared a range of simple but delicious recipes.

“Don’t be stingy, this isn’t health food,” she said laughing, as she lathered butter on bread rolls before filling them with a cheesy mince mix.

The meals were served by Dowerin school students, and on the Wednesday, Mrs Beard prepared a recipe kids could serve up this Sunday.

“We did a Father’s Day dish ... an amazing chocolate brownie ice-cream sandwich.

“I think the kids really enjoyed it and I really enjoyed having them get involved.”

Each meal was paired with a wine, with guest appearances from some of the wineries set up in the Good Food and Getaways Pavilion. Mrs Beard said it was important that people in remote communities got together and saw their friends and her aim was to take the stress out of it.

“I really wanted to create dishes that people felt were special but easy to prepare, My whole ethos in cooking is having it stress-free — doing as much prep in advance and cooking those kind of dishes that aren’t weeknight dishes. Dishes that are special and create memories.”

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