Weekend of great food, fabulous wines and celebrity chefs
November 16-18, 2018
I’d heard so
much about Margaret River Gourmet Escape (MRGE) and it had been on my bucket
list for a while, so imagine how excited I was to be there for the event from November
16-18, 2018. Margaret River is a three-hour drive from Perth and this was the 7th
edition of MRGE.
excitement when I found out who was going to be there too. Nigella Lawson, British cookbook author and host of Nigella
Kitchen, Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya’s
(Sydney) and Waku Ghin (Singapore), one of my favourite Japanese chefs, Jake
Kellie the Master of Smoke & Fire at Burnt Ends (Singapore) and celebrity chefs
from UK, USA, Singapore, Mexico, France and Denmark.
This year, there
were over 45 events happening in 25 locations in Margaret River, including the
iconic Gourmet Beach BBQ and Leeuwin Estate Gourmet Village to Feast In The
Forest, Sunset, Beats & Bites, Fraser Gallop Estate Long Lunch and Dining
By Twilight at Margaret River’s Secret Garden.
wait to be up close and personal with the chefs who also included Rick Stein
(UK), Mitch Orr (Acme, Sydney) and Matt Stone (Oakridge Wines, Australia), Skye Gyngell (Spring, UK), Monica Galetti (Mere, UK), Niki Nakayama (n/naka, USA), Andrew
Wong (UK), Alex Atala (D.O.M., Brazil), Edgar Núñez (SUD 777, Mexico),
Rosio Sánchez (Hija de
Sanchez, Denmark) and James Lowe (Lyle’s, UK).
|As the sun sets, the beach barbecue starts to warm up|
|Wadandi Cultural Custodian Josh Whiteland playing a tune on the didgeridoo |
On the eve of
MRGE, chefs came together for a private Gourmet Beach Barbecue at Castle Rock
Beach. This by-invitation-only event gave chefs the opportunity to mingle and
renew friendships. Tents were set up with tables and chairs inside, stoves
fired up and, at one end of the beach, entertainment to give the party a boost.
served, along with free flow of bubbly, wines, beer and soft drinks. The weather
was fine but the brisk wind proved a tad chilly, so most of us huddled around
tables set up under the tents for protection.
barbecue amplified the Aussie love for barbies. But here, we let
the chefs work while everyone else sat back and had a good time. The menu
included wagyu beef sliders, kingfish poke on cassava cracker, Linley Valley
pork sausages, chicken skewers, herbed dorper lamb cutlets and for dessert, we
had Nigella Lawson’s Emergency Brownies and ginger wine syllabub.
|Chefs cooking for chefs and visitors at the Castle Rock beach barbecue|
|Succulent grilled Dorper lamb chops|
Barbecue (A$230) was also held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for members of
the public, with different menus. On Saturday, we were treated to more dorper
lamb cutlets, chicken skewers, fish skewers, grilled asparagus, grilled corn
and pan-roasted potato.
|Tantalising spread at the Beach Barbecue|
|New friends having fun at the Castle Rock Beach barbecue|
It is said that one cannot claim to have participated
in the MRGE if one has not dipped one’s toes in sand while holding a bubbly in
one hand and a barbecued sausage in the other. So I’m delighted to have just
gone beyond the record by attending two in one weekend.
On Friday, we had a chance to talk to some of our favourite chefs.
While Nigella was fully occupied with video interviews, we hopped around for short
one-on-one chit-chats with the other chefs. It felt somewhat like
“speed-dating” (hahahaha!) but with the chefs.
I managed to exchange a “hello” with Tetsuya Wakuda before I spied
Jake Kellie in a corner table, looking cool in a black Burnt Ends T-shirt, with
tattoos on one arm.
|With Kelli Brett, editor-director of Cuisine Magazine, Auckland|
On Saturday, we headed for The Gourmet Village (A$40 for advanced online tickets; A$50 at the door;
free for kids under 16), held on the manicured grounds of Leeuwin Estate Winery,
an event packed with wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, panel discussions,
masterclasses and product showcases. Also held on Sunday, the event from 11am
to 6pm allowed participants and visiting chefs came together to find out more
about local produce and to sample signature dishes and wines by artisan
producers from WA.
|Long queue of cars waiting to enter Gourmet Village in Leeuwin Estate Winery|
Many people got comfortable on picnic mats laid down in the
shade of old trees and getting bites of food offered by restaurants such as
Rustico @ Hay Shed Hill, Bao Wow, Xanadu, Caves Road Collective, Ma La
Dumplings, Brika, Amelia Park, The Gourmet Fried Chicken Bar and Lavash by
Sam’s Foodie Goods. There was just no way to resist the smells wafting over.
|Gourmet Village visitors at the Chefs Amphitheatre|
|Families having a great day chilling on the lawn of Leeuwin Estate Winery|
|Aaron Carr of Yarri Restaurant speaking at the Regional Flavours tent|
In between bites, one could listen to chefs talk at the Chefs
Amphitheatre and The Butcher’s Block, get a book signed, sample wines or beer,
talk to wine makers, get tips at cooking demonstrations or have a tete-a-tete
with food influencers at Consuming Conversations. Families with children signed
them up for The Little Garden Kitchen, an event that introduced them to the
joys of growing and cooking their own food. I trotted off to the Regional
Flavours tent to watch chef Aaron Carr of Yarri Restaurant prepare a dish of
Prawns With XO and Saltbush.
were lucky to get tickets (courtesy of Tourism Western Australia) to The
Westpac Leeuwin Estate Platinum Lounge. For A$255 (advance booking), visitors
get fast-track entry, a wine-tasting glass, two glasses of Leeuwin Estate wine
and sample a variety of cheeses (accompanied by crackers, cranberry jelly and
sundried raisins) while Leeuwin Estate’s Dan Gedge and the kitchen team made
sure the canapes and hot food did not stop coming out. At the verandah, we also
had apanoramic view of the happenings on the lawn.
|Aaron cooked his signature dish, Prawns With XO &and Saltbush (bushtucker plant next to plate) |
|This way... to Nigella's Tea Party at Howard Park|
|Selection of teas from Howard Park's Herbal Emporium|
Sunday, the highlight was Nigella’s Tea Party at
Howard Park (A$225) at 3pm. With the beautifully clipped lawn and flowers
everywhere, it looked almost like an English garden tea party. We sipped flutes
of Howard Park’s new release, Petit Jete sparkling wine, whites, reds,
rose and even hot tea from Herbal Eemporium while nibbling on savoury and sweet
treats made by celebrated West Australian patissiere Rochelle Adonis.
|Bouquets of fresh flowers to give that English Garden feel|
|Crisp Potato Rings with mushroom and quail egg, cones of lemon cream, cured salmon and tapioca pearls and slow-roasted tomato tarts|
were cucumber ribbon sandwiches with dill aioli, slow-roasted tomato tarts, cones
filled with lemon cream, cured salmon and tapioca pearls and crisp potato rings
filled with mushroom and topped with a quail egg. We ended with raspberry
meringues filled with mascarpone and strawberries, torched lime-vanilla choux
and luscious violet-milk chocolate tarts.
|Two of the sweet desserts|
made an appearance on stage, talking about her books, her career and offered
candid peeps into her life at home with her children as well as recalled how and
why she crafted Emergency Brownies. “These are for times when you crave for a
brownie but can’t justify making a whole batch. This recipe makes two or four
servings, with things you can almost always find in the larder.”
highlights the food and wines that the South West region of Australia is famed
for and puts WA on the world tourism map. Margaret River, among the world’s top
wine producing regions, is home to 217 vineyards and 187 wineries.
The annual event attracts foodies and industry folks
from not only Western Australia (WA) but also the rest of the country and globally
including. With the more than positive response, the organisers are now looking
to expand the event next year with a 10-day programme and two additional
locations: Swan River and Perth.
Thanks to Tourism Western Australia for the fabulous, memorable and gastronomic experience at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2018.
|Nigella Lawson opens up about her career and her life|
More information about Western Australia, Margaret River and MRGE at tourism.wa.gov.au
Just caught up with this. Love it! KelReplyDelete