Gourmet shore

If you’re a se­ri­ous food fan or even if you’re not, this star-stud­ded gas­tro­nomic ex­trav­a­ganza is the per­fect time to spend a week­end at Mar­garet River.

Australian Traveller - - Short­cuts - WORDS GRETA STONE­HOUSE

Three years ago, when the first mar­quee peg was ham­mered into the earth for the in­au­gu­ral Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape, it’s un­likely that pun­ters had an inkling of just how enor­mous the re­gion’s sig­na­ture food fes­ti­val would be­come. With an in­cred­i­ble roll call of chef tal­ent, an ever-grow­ing bat­tery of lo­cal pro­duc­ers and clever, in­ter­est­ing events all set to the back­drop of Mar­garet River’s pris­tine, turquoise beaches and lush landscapes, it’s lit­tle won­der chefs from all cor­ners of the globe starch their whites in ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion of an in­vi­ta­tion. The draw­card of head­line chefs en­sures tick­ets sell out faster than you can flip an omelette, but the Gourmet Es­cape has also grown a rep­u­ta­tion akin to a food-lover’s Glas­ton­bury, thanks to its lively, fes­ti­val am­biance. Many of the events are open to the sky, such as the Audi Gourmet Beach Bar­be­cue and the Gourmet Vil­lage, but all have good, free-flow­ing wines and an in­cred­i­ble pro­ces­sion of flavours. It’s enough to awaken the sleep­ing Bac­chus in any­one. Last year He­ston Blu­men­thal’s fan­tas­ti­cal flair lured the crowds but, this year, all eyes are on bad boy Brit, Marco Pierre White. Of­ten lauded as the first celebrity chef on the scene, the Hell’s Kitchen star has trained broods of no­table chefs, in­clud­ing Gor­don Ram­say and our own Shan­non Ben­nett who, in­ci­den­tally, seems to have taken cues from his men­tor’s hair­style as well as his culi­nary tech­niques. While Pierre White is no stranger to Aus­tralia, hav­ing be­come a fa­mil­iar face on MasterChef, this will be his first Es­cape. “I come to Aus­tralia two to three times a year and I work with [Ge­orge] Calom­baris, I work with [Matt] Pre­ston, they bang on about it all the time,” he says. “To be hon­est, very few things ex­cite me at my age in life, but I’ve got to say, Mar­garet River ex­cites me.” He’s not the only chef bub­bling with en­thu­si­asm to join the party. Also star­ring at this year’s event are a num­ber of the world’s most cut­ting-edge kitchen mae­stros, as named by the S.Pel­le­grino World’s 50 Best list, in­clud­ing the UK’s Rick Stein, Moscow’s Vladimir Mukhin of White Rab­bit and Gag­gan Anand of the epony­mous Gag­gan in Bangkok – just to name a few.

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