Tractor continues to produce the goods

By Melissa Walsh   Photos Yanni

Moving to the Mornington Peninsula 11 years ago with his wife and small children was a coup for the region with accomplished chef, Stuart Bell, bringing his great skills in French and modern Australian cuisine right to our doorstep.

The Ten Minutes By Tractor chef continues to work miracles since starting at the Red Hill winery and restaurant ten years ago, after working with some of the industry’s best, including Philippe Mouchel, Jacques Reymond and Alain Fabregues.

“We were living in WA at the time and decided to move to the peninsula because we love the lifestyle and being close to the water,” says Stuart, whose career has taken him all over the world. “My wife’s parents live in Dromana so we had spent a bit of time visiting here anyhow.”

Within the first year of joining Ten Minutes By Tractor, Stuart had already gained accolades from Gourmet Traveller, calling it “the best gastronomic outpost to have opened on the Mornington Peninsula for a long time”. Since then, the restaurant has been awarded two hats by the Good Food Guide and two stars by Gourmet Traveller.

“I always wanted to be a chef and started my apprenticeship when I was 15, working in Dandenong for the first year,” says the 43 year old. “I wanted to work in bigger hotels so my dad drove me around to put my CV into the city, and it was The Windsor that took me on as an apprentice. That was a great training ground as I had been interested in being a pastry chef and it gave me the experience of working in the grill, the function room, and fine dining. My father was very supportive. We lived in Keysborough and he would drive in at 1am to pick me up when I had finished for the day.”

After 28 years, Stuart’s passion for cooking is still as strong and every experience is treasured.

Using seasonal produce, the menu at Ten Minutes By Tractor is continually transforming.

“Winter is more braisy, wet dishes with hearty style food. In spring we add lamb but keep the same proteins like duck, quail and beef. Fish changes with the season as well.”

The dishes at Ten Minutes By Tractor continue to reflect the philosophy of the true meaning of hospitality, where attention and detail is put into everything the team does, from the sophisticated and yet down to earth front of house service, to the elegant yet unpretentious menu.

From working at The Windsor to Michelin star restaurants and even in Dublin, Stuart says basically kitchens are the same.

“Wherever you work, you find the same sorts of characters and the same atmosphere. The hours are pretty unsociable but I love the adrenalin of it still. It’s not just a job. Getting the two hats was the most amazing experience. Having worked in five chefs hat restaurants in the past, to have your own hats is incredible. It’s all part of working with the right owners and the right staff.”

The perfect collaboration takes place over wine and food tastings each season, with Stuart creating the dishes and then tasting the food with the wine to create the perfect match.

This spring, Stuart will be sourcing more delicious local produce to add to the menu with Flinders Island lamb, Red Hill goat’s cheese, and Barramundi amongst his favourites.


Mandarin Cremeux, citrus, cheesecake snow, confit mandarin, lavender ice-cream


–  Mandarin marmalade
–  Sugar (for the caramel)
–  Butter
–  Salt
–  Marzipan 70 per cent
–  Eggs
–  Grapeseeds oil
–  Flour
–  Baking powder


1. Cook the sugar until golden brown colour.

2. Add the butter into the caramel.

3. Pour this mix over the marzipan and blend it with robocoup.

4. Add little by little the eggs.

5. Beat all together with the whisk.

6. Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.

7. Finish with the grapeseeds oil.

8. Scale 22 gr per molds and place the mandarin marmalade insert in the middle.

9. Bake at 165 degrees Celsius for 18-20 min.

Ten Minutes By Tractor is at 1333 Mornington-Flinders Road, Main Ridge
Phone 5989 6080

First published in Peninsula Essence – September 2017