Part Dutch, part Italian, and having grown up with a pastry chef as a father, it seems that Marsha’s life was destined for dough.
Spending 22 years working in her family’s pastry shop in Amsterdam, Marsha’s yearning to bake never dwindled, and living in a continent where dessert is intrinsic to culture and history certainly spurred her on. “In Europe and all restaurants in the UK, you’d have a dedicated team of just pastry chefs,” Marsha says. “In Michelin star venues, you’ll get a tasting menu and you know four components of the menu will be from the pastry side alone. But that isn’t really the case here. We just don’t quite get it with our bakeries. The love and skill and passion isn’t there.”
Marsha and her partner and award-winning sommelier Lincoln Riley are the owners behind Bendigo’s Harvest Food & Wine.
The dynamic duo decided to launch the business once they made the move from Melbourne to Bendigo in search of a more practical and holistic lifestyle for their family – combining their talents to give regional Victoria a culinary experience yet to be imagined.
“We were in a two-bedroom apartment and having our first child,” Marsha recalls. “Melbourne was so saturated and with so many (hospitality) venues, and we were spending most weekends in Bendigo anyway because Lincoln is from there so we thought, ‘what are we doing in Melbourne?’”
One of the city’s most coveted eateries, Harvest is a regular haunt for lovers of local produce, fine wine, ready-to-eat homemade meals, cut-to-order cheese, or European-style pastries handmade with love by Marsha and her team. Marsha says the cafe, deli and cellar door also stocks a wide selection of her favourite pantry goods from makers around Bendigo and beyond.
While the couple’s acreage on the outskirts of Bendigo is currently home to their own wine label North Run – available via the Harvest Cellar Door – Marsha says the long-term vision is to have fresh produce from their own acreage also available in store.
“Lincoln and I have 65 acres in Harcourt and for a long time we’ve wanted to start producing for Harvest so once we start living there we can start growing stuff and raising chooks and creating for the shop as well,” she says.
As well as a beautiful rotating menu of breakfast options that will have you feeling like you’re sitting amidst a French alcove – coffee and croissant in-hand – Harvest also conducts a number of workshops and masterclasses alongside Marsha and Lincoln whose resumes boast world renowned restaurants by Gordon Ramsay as well as Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Donovan’s.
With experience as a michelin-trained-pastry chef, Marsha says it’s the creativity and the science behind baking that gets her up at half past three every morning.
“There’s always new things to learn, new ways of doing things,” she says. “Since I’ve been cooking, the equipment used and what’s available changes and is forever adapting and changing.”
“Then there’s the beauty and how beautiful food can be. The textures involved, the acid, the sweetness, what it can do or create for you. I’m so lucky to be able to do that with food. It’s really really special.”
In order to further lose yourself in the Bendigo Ernest Hotel experience, and to provide an extra element of comfort and convenience, we have partnered with Harvest Food & Wine to serve up a selection of Breakfast Boxes showcasing local fare. The boxes include handmade pastries, local charcuterie, Harvest’s signature granola and yoghurt, and freshly-squeezed juice. If you’d like to put in an order for these parcels of goodness, please ensure you make the selection upon booking.