31/08/2004 - 22:00

Lamont brings passion to her vision

31/08/2004 - 22:00

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Kate Lamont and her sister Fiona have undergone a remarkable journey since the late 1980s, propelling a small family vineyard into a brand name synonymous with quality food and wine along the way.

Lamont brings passion to her vision

Kate Lamont and her sister Fiona have undergone a remarkable journey since the late 1980s, propelling a small family vineyard into a brand name synonymous with quality food and wine along the way.

For Kate Lamont it began when, at 25 years of age, she decided food was her preferred passion. Only some time later did she manage to convince her folks to let her establish her own restaurant at the Swan Valley-based vineyard.

“When I look back it makes sense but back then they [restaurants] weren’t considered like that,” she says.

“We had a few customers come out to buy wine and people were saying there was nothing to eat out here. People even brought their own barbeques.

“I saw the opportunity to do something and I was really keen. My sister is better at the hospitality side of things so she worked front of house and I worked the back and set up a little restaurant with lots of passion and not much experience.”

Ms Lamont didn’t even have traditional training, starting her cooking career much later than most other chefs.

That’s because she originally wanted to be a teacher, although a part-time holiday job in the wine industry pointed her in that direction instead.

But another part-time job in the food business several years later switched her course again.

“I didn’t do an apprenticeship, I just worked at as many places as I could to get the experience. It made sense because I was a girl in a hurry, so I did my own apprenticeship,” Ms Lamont says

Now she’s a renowned chef, author and, funnily enough, cooking class teacher, as part of her role in growing the family-run winery.

There’s also the job of promoting Western Australia as a destination through her roles on the Tourism Western Australia Board of Commissioners, as chairman of the Swan Valley Planning Committee, and as WA’s representative on the National Wine Tourism Alliance.

“It’s so important for our industries to see themselves as a commercial partner and not competitors,” Ms Lamont says.

“We often see ourselves as competitors but we have to grow the pie if we want sustainable growth in the future and we need to attract the right kinds of customers. We need to target the markets that bring us the high-yield markets on those airline seats.

“So in an international sense it’s about selling Australian wine, then WA wine and then regional wine.”

Attracting more tourists to WA will have obvious benefits for Lamont’s, helping to grow the numbers of visitors to the all three restaurants and boost wine sales.

To date, Lamont’s has been a story of steady growth and the application of some hard and fast rules, according to Ms Lamont.

The winery produces a modest 9,000 cases annually, and while Ms Lamont is keen to grow the business, she wants it to be at a considered and steady pace.

“I grew up in a household where you never spent more than you earned,” she says.

“The fundamentals of the business, which is still small, are similar to what it was in the early days. We constantly reinvest back into the business and we focus on quality and people enjoying food and wine. And we try hard to be genuine in that pursuit.

“We’re growing the business gradually by creating a good point of sale, which happens to be restaurants.”

Innovative ideas is a common thread to the family’s success and a new conduit to the restaurant business is a morphed food-and-wine-matching-and-cooking-class concept called ‘Wine and Food Conversations with Kate Lamont’ at the East Perth restaurant.

It’s an idea that worked well in Margaret River and Perth consumers have been keen to see the concept available at Lamont’s East Perth. 

“It’s combining food and wine matching with a cooking class,” Ms Lamont says.

Guests are served a six-course meal and get the recipes to each.

“I’ve done cooking classes for many years and I recognised that people know how to cook; what they don’t necessarily know is how to match flavours and where to purchase the best produce.

“People don’t need to see me stir the risotto but they need to know what rice I’m using. It’s about information rather than demonstration.”

 

 

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