The Hawkesbury is now home to a feasting shed
In 2013, after nearly 13 years in the fast-paced restaurant scene, Martin not only exited Longrain but big city life turning his attention to a passion project in the Hawkesbury called, the Cooks Co-op.
Photo credit Sue Stubbs
For those of you who are across the Sydney and Melbourne foodie scene the name, Martin Boetz will be a familiar one. Co-owning the highly awarded Longrain restaurant in Sydney and Melbourne, Martin’s modern approach to Asian cuisine set the benchmark.
In 2013, after nearly 13 years in the fast-paced restaurant scene, Martin not only exited Longrain but big city life turning his attention to a passion project in the Hawkesbury called, the Cooks Co-op. Whilst a fulltime restaurant gig may be a thing of the past, Martin is still firmly entrenched in the Sydney food scene delivering only the best flavours and produce directly from the Hawkesbury region to many of the city's top restaurants.
Excited to hear about a new foodie experience popping up on our doorstep, we chatted to Martin to find out what the Cooks Co-op is all about and what brought Martin to the Hawkesbury River.
Martin, your career has largely been based across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, what was it about the Hawkesbury River that had you packing your bags?
I hadn’t visited the Hawkesbury area previously, but when I was looking to leave Sydney essentially my brief was to find a good piece of land that I could build a home on and somewhere that had fertile soil, but was still no more than an hour drive away from Sydney.
I bought the Sackville property in the Hawkesbury in 2011 and what I found was that the more time I spent here the more friends I made, and then one thing lead to another and I decided to move here permanently.
The Cooks Co-op is your latest project, can you tell us a little about it?
After I moved here I had quite a working garden on the property from which I would cut from and sell back to Chefs in Sydney. I also started collecting produce from other farmers in the Hawkesbury and now each week I send a list out to Chefs in the city saying that I have this and that available.
Once a week I deliver to Sydney, I have about 18 restaurants that I deliver to each week, purely Hawkesbury produce such as School Prawns, Goats Milk, Olives, Apple Cider Vinegar and Fruit & Vegies and that’s initially how the Cooks Co-op all began.
Things seemed to have evolved considerably since you first moved here, where are you at with the Cooks Co-op now?
There are two sides to the business now, the providoring and then on weekends the Shed, which is located on the property, is used to host all kind of events such as birthdays and weddings to more corporate style events. At the moment we have an event every weekend from mid-March until the end of May.
At the end of May, we’ll be closing down for about 19 weeks to build a new kitchen and add in some bathrooms so there is more infrastructure on the property. The providore will still operate but I won’t be doing the events at the farm, instead, we’ve leased a cellar door at Tizzana Winery, which is about five minutes down the road.
It was one of the first wineries in NSW to open and still operates today, it has this beautiful old cellar door with sandstone walls so it will make for a beautiful alternative space whilst we renovate.
Is the Cook’s Co-op open to the public as a restaurant, or is it special events/function only?
It isn’t open as a restaurant, that wasn’t ever the plan, the Cook’s Co-op is mostly used for weddings, birthdays, corporate and private events. I also use the Shed for special events that I put together like the Chef Series where I invite chefs up from Sydney to do one off cooking events or the local nights. All of these events are listed on our website but you do need to be on our mailing list to know about them as they sell out pretty quickly.
Longrain was known for its modern Asian menu, what is it about Asian food, in particular Thai food that you love so much?
I like the balance of flavours, I use a lot of herbs in my cookery whether it is Western or Asian, the flavours are complex and that’s what drew me to it when I first tasted proper Thai food which was at David Thompson's Darley Street Thai.