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.
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.