21 April 2010

Celebrity chef Alastair McLeod believes the term ``foodie’’ has nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do with appreciating fresh and quality fare.

``Anyone can be a foodie if they appreciate great flavours and quality produce,’’ the star of Ready, Steady Cook and executive chef from Hamilton restaurant Bretts Wharf said.

``The public are much more educated and interested about food. Television cooking shows have had an enormous influence, I think,’’ Mr McLeod said.

The comments come as researchers from The University of Queensland’s School of Tourism prepare to launch a survey to determine a foodie’s travel habits.

Professor Don Getz and lecturer Richard Robinson hope to develop a scale to measure a person’s inclination to travel for food tourism, products and experiences.

Their Travel Food Involvement Scale will help Australian tourist operators and food festival organisers better understand the needs and wants of their customers.

Mr McLeod said he considered himself a food tourist, with plans to travel to the US and Canada to keep up with the latest trends.

``Research is essential. You rest, you rust! The flights aren’t booked but the restaurants are,’’ he said.

``Experiencing the food of a country or region is in itself experiencing the place. Taste and smell are two of our most powerful senses.’’

Brisbane had the potential to attract more self-confessed food tourists, he said.

``As far as I know, Brisbane hasn’t really promoted itself particularly as a food destination. However, it should. We are sitting smack bang in the middle of the greatest salad bowl of fantastic produce.

``Fruit and vegetables from the Granite Belt and Darling Downs, oysters and prawns from Moreton Bay, fish from Mooloolaba, scallops from Hervey Bay. The list goes on. We have it all on our doorstep.’’

Mr McLeod said he was an ardent advocate of produce from southeast Queensland.

``If the food is sourced locally, we are close to it and therefore get the produce at its very best. The fresher it is, the better it tastes.

``And the less distance the produce has to travel, the smaller the carbon footprint and the better for the environment.’’

The food tourism survey is at http://uqbel.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_7QXrBRh4eL71H48&SVID=

Media: Richard Robinson (3346 7091 or 0434 072 049), Alastair McLeod (3868 1717) or Erik de Wit (0417 088 772)