Katanning-grown samphire was an unlikely but delicious star of Julie Harries’ cooking demonstrations at Newdegate Machinery Field Days, with visitors lining up for tastes of the salty plant that grows in abundance on one Great Southern farm.
Ms Harries, who owns local catering company Emu Lane, held four presentations during the two-day event, transforming a corner of the Dyson Jones Wool & Technology Pavilion into a mobile kitchen.
It was her first time presenting at the field days, and “great fun” for the chef, whose experience includes running the kitchen at Parliament House in Darwin and leading teams at two Great Southern restaurants.
As well as catering for bush weddings and other celebrations through Emu Lane, Ms Harries runs the canteen and restaurant at Katanning Regional Saleyards, which is open on a Tuesday night and daytime on Wednesdays.
She also operates the canteen at WA Meat Marketing Co-operative — no mean feat, with 350 multicultural staff to feed at the abattoir between 4.30am and 3pm on weekdays.
Ms Harries and her friend, Woodanilling local foodie and retired chef Susanne Wilder, pickled samphire with three different brines, cooked mandarin smoked chicken, and created two lamb dishes — a lamb saagwali curry and an Irish stew, both with WA lamb from WAMMCO.
“The biggest hit of the day was the samphire workshop, where we pickled samphire in different ways,” Ms Harries said.
The samphire was sourced from Moojepin Foods, a saline foods company based in the Great Southern.
Emu Lane Cafe was founded in 2016 when Ms Harris and husband David moved back to Ms Harries’ home town after more than 20 years.
These days, the Harries are well known on the Katanning food scene, with 12 permanent-casual staff and plenty of casuals for events.