Golinski left to feel like ‘region’s rip-off’ after contract end
THE celebrity chef Gympie regional producers grew to know and love as their food ambassador says he's hurt by the way his contract recently ended with Gympie Regional Council.
High-profile chef Matt Golinski was left feeling like a scammer after councillors voted against renewing his contract as the region's food ambassador on the grounds they could not measure if it was value for money.
Councillors voted 8-1 to not renegotiate Mr Golinski's contract at last month's meeting ending five-and-a-half years Mr Golinski dedicated to the role.
He promoted the region's food and agritourism by attending festivals, promotions and events and showcasing the region across social media.
It came with a $16,000 price tag that councillors said the worth of could not be measured
due to a lack of key performance indicators for the role.
But the decisions left the national food icon feeling like he had been ripping the region off.
"I was almost left at the end feeling like they were treating me like I was some sort of scammer who'd been ripping them off for five years and hadn't done anything to earn the money I've been getting paid," Mr Golinski told the ABC.
"Nobody at any point rang me or emailed me to say, 'Can we help sit down with you, can we get you in?'" Mr Golinski said.
Mr Golinski recognised the council was in a hard place financially but said money had never been the issue for him.
"If they'd come to me and said, 'Hey look, we're broke, we're really sorry, we're going to have to cancel the contract with you and we can't have you as ambassador anymore', I would have gone, 'OK, well, I'll just do it for free'," he told ABC.
Despite the sour ending, the celebrity chef promised he would still promote the food of producers in the region he had become close to in his five years on the job.
He planned on continuing to showcase their produce at Noosa's View restaurant and represent them on the board of Slow Food Noosa.
But for Gympie region farmers, who have voiced their dismay at the decision, Mr Golinski's backing went beyond their own personal gain.
"To take someone with such an incredible profile, such a great bloke, who has done so much for so many producers in our region ... I am lost for words as to why," Cooloola Berries owner Kim Lewis told ABC.
"It's actually totally devastating for us," farmer and cook CC Diaz-Petersen added.
"He's not just a chef, he's the one that took up our produce and pretty much helped us put our products on the shelves, on restaurant menus, and get people get excited about our produce here in Gympie."
A delegation of farmers took their disappointment to Gympie Mayor Glenn Hartwig and to make a plan to pave a new way the Gympie region agricultural sector - that is worth more than $148 million a year to the region- be promoted.
This is now in the form of a consultative group Cr Hartwig agreed to form with the region's farmers.
Cr Hartwig apologised for any misgivings Mr Golinski had about how his contract was not renewed but said the council had never felt "ripped off" by the celebrity chef.
"It was never the view of council that he was ripping us off," Cr Hartwig told ABC.
"Matt has done wonderful work for this region; the decision that council made actually had nothing to do with Matt and what he'd done, but more about our organisation and what we hadn't done."