Promoting onions from humble to hero to foodservice and health industries involves farm visits and recipe inspiration to allow professionals to fully appreciate the versatility of the onion.

The Hort Innovation Onion nutrition education program for health professionals and the foodservice industry (VN20002) has continued building momentum over the last six months. Designed to improve the awareness, knowledge and attitude of professionals regarding the nutrition and health benefits of onions, and increase culinary usage, the program encourages recommendation of onions as part of a healthy and nutritious diet, ultimately helping increase onion consumption amongst patients, clients and patrons.

The program is in its third year and continues to strengthen connections with health and foodservice professionals.

Tawnya Bahr, Penny Eustace, Lucy Allon, Teri Lichtenstein and Head Chef Martin Boetz from Shortgrain

The third onion ‘paddock to plate farm tour’ curated by Straight To The Source held a bespoke tour experience in November to Qualipac Produce in College View, Queensland, for a group of leading foodservice and health professionals. The objective of the day was to inspire the influencers by presenting new research on the key health and nutritional benefits of onions and provide culinary inspiration on ways to showcase onions as a key recipe ingredient, and to promote onions from humble to hero.

Qualipac is a family-owned business that specialises in growing, packing and supplying quality onions throughout Australia. The Qualischefski family have been farming vegetables since the early 1940s.

Their team showed us firsthand how onions are grown and exactly what it takes to get this humble hero from farm to fork – harvested, graded, packed and delivered fresh to retailers.

The group then visited the second farm location to see onions in the ground. Unfortunately, due to a freak hailstorm in the Lockyer Valley on the Friday prior, the onion crop had been obliterated. Qualipac lost over $1 million dollars’ worth of crops due to hail damage. This presented the opportunity for a discussion with guests around how consumers don’t understand the challenges farmers face.

During the farm tour our guests were served a warm Aussie onion tart created by Sprout Artisan Bakery made especially for the day. Straight To The Source also served a French Onion Dip made by Chef Tom Hitchcock, Australian Chef of the year 2023, as a snack while travelling back to Brisbane.

The group were then treated to an exclusive private dining experience at Brisbane’s hottest new restaurant, Short Grain, with owner and executive chef Martin Boetz demonstrating culinary creativity with onions, along with discussion of key nutritional messages with accredited dietician, Teri Lichtenstein.

The Aussie onion-focused dishes and techniques showcased in the culinary demonstration included:

  • Roasted onion Thai dressing
  • Onion Bhajis canapes with onion dressing

Lunch, curated and prepared by Martin Boetz, featured:

  • Fish salad with roasted onion Thai dressing
  • White master stock chicken
  • Khao Sai of Beef with onions and stir-fried veggies
  • Yellow bean pudding with caramelised onions

The farm tour guests took home information on the latest scientific evidence and a raft of educational and culinary resources, Qualipac onions, a Straight To The Source recipe card and a box of Olsson’s Sea Salt flakes.

The team learned how to enjoy 75 grams (one serve) of onion every day with a range of creative and innovative usage ideas. Catch some inspiration and insights in our video from the day on our digital hub at:


  • Every guest reported that the event was engaging, educational and impactful, saying they learnt from the experience and were keen to share the insights with their audiences, team and customers.
  • The post-event questionnaire demonstrated a 100% increase in knowledge and understanding of onions in supporting overall health, in the context of a healthy diet.
  • Social media engagement was extremely positive, with information shared by our guests’ reaching an audience of 150,000 people.

For more information on the program visit or contact Bite Communications Program Manager, Penny Eustace, via

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the onion research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.
Project: VN20002