“Happy chooks laying good eggs often can mean higher cost and Mitchell is fine with that.” – Hilary McNevin, The Australian

Rosa Mitchell, chef and co-owner of Rosa’s Kitchen and Rosa’s Canteen, Melbourne, and Paul Righetti, Real Eggs, Yandoit

Rosa Mitchell and her husband, Colin, own a property in Yandoit in Victoria’s northwest and are neighbours with Paul Righetti, a sheep farmer. When she heard Righetti was branching out into eggs, it was an easy decision. Mitchell’s business practices and menu ethos have been built on local, ethical and quality produce, so sourcing genuine free-range eggs was pivotal to her restaurants’ offering. For Righetti it was a good boost to his burgeoning egg business. “Rosa was the first restaurant to support us, followed closely by the Lake House (Daylesford),” he says.

In Mitchell’s opinion, the eggs stand out because “the chickens have a great living environment, the quality is great and they taste like real eggs! I actually drive past the chickens every weekend and see how happy they are”.

The eggs are from Isa Brown chooks (quiet temperament and they lay quality eggs) and Righetti refers to his method of farming as open range, as opposed to free range (the latter is measured by space per bird and can be up to 10,000 to 15,000 birds to the hectare). Righetti’s open-range method and his expanse of land means he has just 10 birds to the hectare. The chickens graze through open pastures and have mobile housing, giving them access to fresh pasture every two days.

Happy chooks laying good eggs often can mean higher cost and Mitchell is fine with that. “We do pay more for the eggs and we incorporate that into our costs. At Rosa’s we have very little waste because we use the whole vegetable or the whole chicken so wastage is at a minimum,” she says.

Righetti sees the issue of cost being addressed through educating the customer. “Once consumers understand how much better a pasture-fed, open-range egg is and how we farm, they are totally on board.” This neighbourly chef-supply relationship has fostered collaborations; Mitchell has cooked for Righetti at Real Eggs’ annual open days at the farm.

Mitchell says there’s a great friendship developing.

“We have known each other for a while but the eggs have made us get to know each other better,” she says.

“We are both passionate in our beliefs about the environment, quality of products, family and local history. And we don’t mind a little glass of wine.”

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ARTICLE BY HILARY MCNEVIN, THE WEEKLY REVIEW