Top Australia Day honour for top chef
THE South Burnett citizen of the year has tourism, community pride and giving people a taste of our region on his agenda.
South Burnett food ambassador, chef and Tafe instructor, Jason Ford, was named Citizen of the Year at a ceremony in Murgon on Thursday night.
He said it was an honour to be recognised on Australia Day, his "favourite day of the year".
"It's probably one of my favourite days of the year because everyone acts that little bit more Australian," Mr Ford said.
Attending celebrations in Kingaroy alongside he parents, Derrick and Jackie, Mr Ford said he was committed to promoting the South Burnett and everything it has to offer.
He said prioritising our tourism, food and wine industries was key to strengthening the region.
"We have a strong agricultural industry, we have a strong mining and power generation industry, but we need more diversity," he said.
"Tourism is another revenue generating stream for the region."
Mr Ford said it was important to create "buffers" in case industries fell on hard times.
"You have to create buffers for yourself, in case other industries struggle so you have security," he said.
"I think tourism, food and wine has huge potential. It's a beautiful region and landscape here, with the red soil and our dams and our attractions, probably a lot more than our locals are even aware of."
Mr Ford put out the challenge to all South Burnett residents to become ambassadors for the region.
"We can always do it better. I think local restaurants using local products is important. So is locals being proud of their region and being ambassadors for the region," he said.
"When you have tourists coming into the area and they're asking for directions, be accommodating, be obliging, be friendly.
Locals know a lot about their region. They can share their stories with people and they can all be ambassadors."
As a Tafe educator, Mr Ford said he was excited to be part of creating job opportunities for young people in the South Burnett.
"I want to help create the jobs for them to move into so there's a pathway to a job," he said.