Alla Wolf-Tasker: Lakehouse Legend
Along with her loving family, Alla Wolf-Tasker transformed a downtrodden country town into a thriving culinary community.
Alla Wolf-Tasker’s Lake House story is the stuff of legend and has been told many times. And while the Lake House is recognised around the world as one of this country’s great restaurants, the impact Alla, and the venue, have had on creating a culinary community will be seen as perhaps her greatest legacy.
It is a true pleasure speaking with Alla. She’s friendly and knowledgeable, eloquent and assured, and so very passionate about all things food. The reason for our chat is to discuss the release of her latest book, Three Decades On – Lake House and Daylesford. Like everything Alla does, it is beautifully presented with gorgeous lush photography, delicious recipes and engaging editorial that updates the Lake House story. At its heart is a strong sense of community.
Dream A Little Dream
As a young chef, Alla travelled to France, spending her time working in some of its iconic provincial restaurants. When she returned, Alla dreamed of creating one of her own in Australia. She instinctively chose Daylesford, a small village about 90 minutes north-west of Melbourne. It was where she had spent time as a child, as her Russian-immigrant parents owned a small summer house there, a place where they grew their own produce.
In 1979, Alla and her husband Allan, bought what she describes as a ‘blackberry-covered car-wreck-strewn paddock’ and set about building the country restaurant of her dreams.
“I came back from France with stars in my eyes and with this notion that the restaurants that really resonated for me were regional restaurants because they had this growing sense of place around them,” recounts Alla.
“They actually grew a community around them. A community of growers and suppliers and producers and also a community of doers, people that would fix things and were part of the business. Someone like the florist who supplies the flowers, the carpenter builds the chairs and tables – that sort of real community enterprise that I saw overseas. That’s what I fell in love with.”
For the full story and recipes from Alla, pickup a copy of Selector from all good newsagents, subscribe or look inside your next Wine Selectors delivery.