Shannon Jade chats with Stevie-Lee Montfroy
One of the largest urban agricultural projects in the country, Acre Burwood is more than just an eatery. Offering a farm fresh atmosphere and a beautiful garden setting, it’s a place where visitors can stop by to dine or to learn something new with a cooking class or community workshop.
With rooftop agricultural spaces and onsite bee hives, quail coops and worm farms, Acre Burwood has plenty to offer – and that’s not to mention the menu! The business is the perfect answer to a simpler lifestyle, with excellent food available to suit all café connoisseurs.
We chatted with general manager Stevie-Lee Montfroy to find out more about the Acre Burwood mission.
Tell us why being part of an urban agricultural project is so important to you and what goes into running it.
“Being a part of this project is important to me in many ways. I have always wanted to work with a team that is in the forefront of improving hospitality sustainability, whether it is in work life balance or in how we consume, use and waste products. All of this impacts my life, as I spend so many hours a week working in the industry and find that a lot of it reflects into my personal life. I wanted to start making changes and that starts at work, where I spend most of my time each week.”
“A lot goes into running a business like this. Each week and day, there are issues you are dealing with. Keeping up with new technologies or products that come out on the market, working with the farm team to try and produce as much as we can for the café and restaurant, what boundaries can we push to get as much out of it.”
You’re not just an eatery. Acre Burwood is also home to classes, workshops and volunteer opportunities. What can you tell us about these?
“Acre has always been about food and beverage and how you do that in a sustainable way. In this, we want to educate people that come up to the farm or even to dine at one of our venues. We run some fun and interactive workshops and farm tours. We are constantly expanding on ideas, so it is forever growing. We have some amazing volunteers that come up and help out around the place and are always looking for more people that want to spend time and chat about their own experiences.”
How does acre Burwood promote and support sustainability and other environmental initiatives?
“Working alongside the Brickworks centre is a big one, working alongside suppliers with the same values and supporting smaller and upcoming products that are launching on the market. We talk a lot about suppliers when people are up here and try to promote good healthy living, even if they take a small thing away, they might implement this into their daily life.”
We can’t forget the food! What, in your opinion, are the best offerings on the acre Burwood menu?
“That is truly a hard one. I am a hater of tomatoes, but when it is tomato season up here I will eat anything they make with them. My favourite dish was fresh farm tomatoes with burrata, very simple but ‘oh-so amazing!’ A sneaky thing I do is pick off the farm when I am walking around. That’s the best thing on the menu for me.”
What are your future plans for acre Burwood?
“Our main plan is to start making the farm and kitchen part work in sync. That is the hardest part to get right at the moment. As we haven’t been able to stay open for long periods of time with COVID, we haven’t had a good run to see what the farm produces and how the kitchen uses it. I would like to see more workshops and education projects completed here too, but mostly to see both venues running and people up and about, walking around the farm and enjoying this beautiful space.”
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Acre is also in Sydney – don’t miss it next time you are there!