GV apples have wide appeal

By Madeleine Byron

My Kitchen Rules contestants Mick and Jodie-Anne Barlow teamed up with Ardmona orchardist Rocky Varapodio last week to support the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

The Barlows, from Torrumbarry, who were eliminated from the competition last month, contacted the Goulburn Valley grower after cooking up a storm with his Coles-stocked Pink Lady apples while on the show.

‘‘Jodie-Anne called and said that they had this idea about cooking for the Royal Children’s (hospital) appeal with apple slices and I thought that was a great idea because it’s such a wonderful cause,’’ Mr Varapodio said.

The orchardist donated the apples and Mr and Mrs Barlow cooked with them to help raise money for the cause.

It was the second time the trio had worked together, after Mr Varapodio was among about 60 other farmers whose produce was used in an episode of the show.

Mr Varapodio said all the farmers got a kick out of tasting the produce which was cooked to perfection.

‘‘I think it’s amazing that Mick and Jodie-Anne have followed us up after meeting them on the program and I think it showed us that there is some people that really care about the produce,’’ he said.

Serving up a baklava dessert with honey syrup and stewed apples, Mr Varapodio said the duo kept the apples’ true dignity.

‘‘It was a great experience, we went up there and there was about 60-odd farmers and these guys all cooked ... and the food was very good,’’ he said.

Reminiscing on their time on the show, the Barlows said the farmers’ challenge was a moment they would always treasure.

‘‘It was about a month ago when I decided I wanted to chase Rocky up and it took me about three weeks to get his contact details, but that was our highlight show that night,’’ Mrs Barlow said.

Mr Barlow said although the couple did not win farmers’ choice that night, the chance meeting with Mr Varapodio had meant more to them.

‘‘We wanted to get the farmers’ choice because it meant a lot to us, it being Australian produce and everything — but in all honesty by these guys coming out the back we won that night,’’ he said.

Preparing to launch a new series called Champagne Food on a Beer Budget, the couple hopes to keep in touch with Mr Varapodio and continue to support farmers.

‘‘We need to make sure the rest of Australia understands how these farmers are putting food on our tables,’’ Mrs Barlow said.