Great tastes grow in the sun­shine

It’s one of the world’s most pop­u­lar food fes­ti­vals, where renowned chefs from across the globe min­gle with food-lovers in a cel­e­bra­tion of flavours, writes Jana Fraw­ley

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FESTIVE LONDON -

LAST year, on my first night in Noosa for the Food and Wine Fes­ti­val, I made a din­ner book­ing at Ber­ardo’s on the Beach, think­ing a quiet evening ahead of the week­end-long de­gus­ta­tion was in or­der.

At the ta­ble next to me, chat­ting like a cou­ple of besties on a girls’ night out, were Stephanie Alexan­der and Mag­gie Beer.

If th­ese names mean noth­ing to you, then the Sun­shine Coast from May 16 to 20 may not be your cup of sin­gle ori­gin dou­ble macchiato.

But if, like me, and the food lovers around us that fine au­tumn evening, you are fa­mil­iar with two of our coun­try’s great­est cooks and food heroines, you’ll un­der­stand that it was like open­ing the oven to find your souf­fle has not only risen but had done so to a spec­tac­u­larly dra­matic height.

But the culi­nary su­per­star bingo didn’t stop then.

The rest of the week­end, like the many years I’ve at­tended the fes­ti­val, was one long game of spot-the-chef.

The laid-back in­ti­macy of the Food and Wine Fes­ti­val’s lo­ca­tion means where you walk and eat and drink, so too do the house­hold-name chefs and other master cooks with cu­ri­ously named dishes like Flight of the Bees and in­ven­tive at­ti­tudes which sud­denly see us rav­ing about ezekiel crumbs.

Most of the ac­tion is cen­tred around Hast­ings St, which is also where the beach, shops and restau­rants, and much of the ac­com­mo­da­tion is lo­cated, so while you may have booked a place at the In­dian and Ja­panese lunch with Ragini Dey, a din­ner at Gas­ton with Jonathan Barthelmess, or the English River­side Pic­nic with Ian Cur­ley, you’re just as likely to have a ca­sual en­counter with Peter Doyle on his way for a surf.

Though you’ve se­cured a spot on the Spice Tour with Martin Boetz and Chris­tine Man­field, or set aside a few hours to watch Martin Benn, Javier Co­d­ina, Alla Wolf-Tasker or Adri­ano Zumbo in one of the celebrity cook­ing demon­stra­tions in the fes­ti­val ‘‘ vil­lage’’, there’s ev­ery chance you’ll be trail­ing Gio­vanni Pilu go­ing for an early morn­ing run be­fore he puts on his whites and you don your wine­tast­ing lan­yard.

This year, it is gourmet rock stars aplenty as the event’s founder and di­rec­tor, Jim Ber­ardo, has lured some of the world’s best chefs to take over the kitchens of Queens­land.

‘‘ As it’s the fes­ti­val’s 10th year, we tried to find as many op­por­tu­ni­ties as we could around the num­ber 10, so we’ve got 10 chefs from the San Pel­le­grino’s Best Restau­rant lists,’’ said Ber­ardo, nam­ing in­ter­na­tional restau­rant stars David Kinch from Manresa in the US, Yoshi­hiro Nari­sawa from Tokyo’s Les Creations de Nari­sawa, and Carlo Cracco from Italy’s Ris­torante Cracco, as well as our own Peter Gil­more of Quay, Tet­suya Wakuda of Tet­suya’s, Mark Best of Mar­que, Ben Shewy of At­tica, and David Thompson of Bangkok’s Nahm.

Ber­ardo says that while he does some of the woo­ing of th­ese for­mi­da­ble food forces, it’s the chefs who’ve been to the fes­ti­val in years past who are the best am­bas­sadors.

‘‘ There is great ca­ma­raderie be­tween all th­ese chefs, they are friends, and they sell it for me,’’ he says, adding that un­like other fes­ti­vals the chefs are made to work and demon­strate their tal­ent for the au­di­ence. ‘‘ We bring the chefs to the peo­ple, the peo­ple to the chefs.’’

In keep­ing with Ber­ardo’s phi­los­o­phy to keep the fes­ti­val fresh as a for­ager’s larder, this year’s line-up in­cludes some new events.

Ed­i­ble Mu­sic is the open­ing-night con­cert in which stave meets stove. The San Pel­le­grino chefs and an orches­tra will meet in a sym­phony of cook­ing and mu­sic, while the au­di­ence sups on a canape box in­spired by what’s hap­pen­ing on stage.

‘‘ We want ev­ery­one to taste and feel the mu­sic as well as hear it,’’ Ber­ardo says.

The fes­ti­val will also be mak­ing more use of the nat­u­ral beauty of the lo­cal area by mov­ing events be­yond the restau­rants and cen­tral event lo­ca­tion.

A se­lec­tion of the of­fi­cial pro­gram din­ners will be­gin with a sun­set con­cert

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