Tooma’s ‘food dude’ to showcase local businesses

Alo Baker’s Food Dude show will include a variety of food challenges and unconventional meals.

Tooma-raised Alo Baker will be hitting screens this March to showcase regional food establishments on a national scale, including Tumbarumba Bakery and Wilgro Orchards in Batlow.

Mr Baker, executive producer and host of the upcoming show ‘The Food Dude’, said that while the show will include a variety of food challenges and unconventional meals, at its heart is a desire to platform regional businesses.

“We do the odd challenges, but for the most part it’s about showcasing what regional businesses and establishments are capable of providing food wise and showcasing it on a national scale,” he said.

“In the midst of Covid and everything, it’s been really well received with businesses wanting to showcase what they can do and saying we’re here, we’re bigger and better, we’re up and running and still providing quality food like we always have been.”

In deciding what towns to include, Mr Baker said he and the team put out a number of feelers and the response to them has been “really positive.”

“We find out businesses that are engaging in their local area, not just from a food point of view but a number of businesses are renowned, or there’s a hype for them on social media,” he added.

Despite this behind-the-scenes research, Mr Baker always knew he wanted to return home to Tumbarumba and show off the bakery.

“I’m a local boy from Tumba, my mum worked at the Tumba Hospital for 20 years and I grew up going to the Tumba Bakery,” he explained.

“The Tumba Bakery is a bit of a staple for me when I come home.

“There’s a segment in the show called ‘Pie Guy’ and Tumba Bakery is almost wholly responsible for me being into pies, so I had to showcase the place that started it all for me.”

Mr Baker said he has a “real care for people of the Snowy Valleys”, choosing to also highlight Wilgro Orchards because “you can’t go through Batlow without getting some apples.”

At a time when a number of television shows, magazines and newspapers are attempting to bring people back to bushfire-affected regional towns, Mr Baker said the cause is personal to him.

His parents still live in Tooma and were impacted by the bushfires last summer.

“They got smashed for the second time in ten years, there’s a lot of businesses around that got affected and so that was part of the reason that I thought this would be great to showcase not only my hometown, but a place that is thriving in the midst of Covid and previous to that, bushfires,” Mr Baker said.

“I did come home during the fires and I helped out where I could, and it was definitely something that was close to my heart.”

Mr Baker has a background in radio, working in the industry for 12 years and making a number of connections through this. He got his start in television with a travel-log show in Alaska for National Geographic that was also picked up by Foxtel, and another one in Texas two years later, picked up by Channel 7.

Filming remains ongoing for ‘The Food Dude’, with border closures posing the biggest challenge during early stages of filming.

Mr Baker is hoping to get across the border to Victoria for the final episodes, having featured businesses in New South Wales and Queensland thus far.

‘The Food Dude’ is scheduled to air on the 7 Network’s 7Mate channel from March 20.