Island sauce maker a Kate of all trades

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By Ian Williams

The term multitasking could well have been invented for Kate Sumner – the driving force behind Kangaroo Island Source.

The commerce graduate and marketing specialist turned her back on a corporate life in London 12 years ago to launch a niche gourmet food business that personifies the island’s clean-green environment.

Kate opened a commercial kitchen on a 50-hectare property at Penneshaw and set about doing just about everything – growing her own produce, cooking, catering and running cooking classes.

As the business took off Kate kept moving. She’s the inspiration behind the popular Kangaroo Island Farmers Market and the unofficial brand ambassador and mentor for many of the region’s other producers.

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“When I returned to South Australia I didn’t want to go back to a boring 9-5 job so initially I went to work for a few wineries in the Adelaide Hills,” says Kate. “But my mum lived on the island and I saw a gap in the market for some of the great Kangaroo Island produce.

“I’m not a trained chef but I come from a family that’s really passionate about its food and wine and I spent a lot of time working back-of-house in hospitality when I was overseas.”

Kangaroo Island Source makes a range of sauces and condiments from fresh produce grown on the property or by other local producers. The range is sold across the island and also in Adelaide, and Kate is in the process of launching in the eastern states.

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Apart from being a production line, her large commercial kitchen is also used to host cooking classes for locals and tourists and small private functions for up to 45 people.

“I have a beautiful deck that overlooks the ocean in Penneshaw so it’s a great setting,” Kate says. “People can come to the one venue and cook and taste the local produce without having to travel all over the island.”

The catering side of the business is also in big demand and ranges from large events – a recent wedding for 260 guests – to hampers for four tourists from Singapore.

Then there’s the farmers market.

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Kangaroo Island Farmers Market

“We launched that about nine years ago and it’s held on the first Sunday of every month – and it’s just grown and grown,” said Kate. “Even though it’s a big island and much of the produce is seasonal, we still get about 20 different stallholders every month.

“There are far more producers and wineries on Kangaroo Island than a few years ago so we’re really attracting the foody tourists.”

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