Dark Feast a Win­ter treat

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips

WAS it a to­tal of 30,000 or 50,000 over the three days? Who knows? Who cares? What­ever the num­ber, and de­spite the new $ 10 en­trance fee, PW1 and sur­round­ings at Dark MoFo Win­ter Feast on Fri­day, June 20, was packed to burst­ing with the big­gest, hap­pi­est crowd I’ve seen at any food event.

Af­ter last year’s enor­mous suc­cess, event di­rec­tor Gill Min­ervini promised us some­thing even big­ger and bet­ter this year.

And it was. Some in the or­gan­is­ing team were wor­ried the en­trance fee would push num­bers down. In­stead, they were way up and stall hold­ers got slammed, a few run­ning out of prod­uct only a few hours into the evening.

You’d think af­ter the al­most con­tin­u­ous string of fes­ti­vals and events in the city dur­ing the past six months Ho­bart would be par­tied out. But no, there we were again, rugged up and in our thou­sands, the many in­ter­staters recog­nis­able by their furry coats and hats, kids run­ning round, brave souls rid­ing the Fer­ris wheel, people pa­tiently queu­ing, sit­ting around fire pots, dancing to the mu­sic, sip­ping wine, beer and cider, snap­ping pho­tos or sim­ply oohing and aahing at the spec­ta­cle of it all. In ad­di­tion, the whole of Sala­manca was alive with restaurants along the strip say­ing ev­ery night of the feast was like New Year’s Eve for them. It truly was Ho­bart at its best. And Jo Cook once again did a fab­u­lous job in her se­lec­tion of stall hold­ers and the va­ri­ety of food on of­fer, par­tic­u­larly foods from some of the small oper­a­tors like Rin’s Ja­panese exquisitries, SoupS­top’s In­dian street food and the won­der­ful Viet­namese flavours from Launce­s­ton’s hole- in- the- wall- sized Gar­den of Ve­gan.

Are the de­mo­graph­ics of crowds at The Taste and the Win­ter Feast dif­fer­ent? Or is it just the less reg­i­mented at­mos­phere of the feast that meant the crowds on the Fri­day night seemed hap­pier, more in a fes­tive party mood and, it would seem, more ready to spend?

One stall sold out of French Cham­pagne on

the fi rst night, an­other went through 20 dozen of a par­tic­u­lar shiraz in two hours on Satur­day night at $ 10 a glass.

How­ever, the queues to buy tick­ets at the en­trance and in­side at the stalls were in­deed frus­trat­ingly long.

Many people sim­ply couldn’t get in and not ev­ery­one was pa­tient, some giv­ing up even once they got into the hall and go­ing off to eat else­where. It would be a real shame were such prob­lems to de­ter people from at­tend­ing in the fu­ture.

While queues will al­ways be part and par­cel of such events, Min­ervini says it’s some­thing they’re work­ing on and have ideas for im­prove­ment next year. On the food side, a good start might be to have a few ex­pe­ri­enced people dou­ble check the planned staffi ng num­bers and the cook­ing/ ser­vice/ pay­ment

One stall sold out of French Cham­pagne on the fi rst night, an­other went through 20 dozen of a par­tic­u­lar shiraz in two hours

lay- out and work- fl ow ar­range­ments for each stall in the lead up to the event.

And it wasn’t only the less- ex­pe­ri­enced oper­a­tors who had prob­lems with the effi cient fl ow of food this year.

A ma­jor and very suc­cess­ful change this year was the abil­ity to pre- pur­chase tick­ets and the effi cient scan­ning sys­tem at the en­trance. But even it tem­po­rar­ily broke down un­der the overwhelming de­mand.

With this in mind and the fact so many thou­sands were happy to pay $ 10 a ticket, it might be time for the Ho­bart City Coun­cil to have a re­think about the in­creas­ing costs to rate pay­ers of Taste. A min­i­mal $ 2 a head for the claimed 250,000 Taste at­ten­dees would go close to cov­er­ing the drain on the coun­cil’s cof­fers, lessen the need for the HCC to raise the cost of stalls and con­se­quently for stall hold­ers to up their food prices.

Counter- in­tu­itively, do the sums and a $ 2 en­trance fee can work out to make a day at Taste cheaper for ev­ery­one, mul­ti­ple en­tries and fam­i­lies in­cluded.

DESSERT IS UP: Gar­den of Ve­gan’s Hoang Nguyen shows off his raw vanilla bean cheese­cake.

Pic­ture: LUKE BOW­DEN

SWEET TOOTH: Vic­to­ria Wick­ham from Mac­arons by Ruby bites into one of their sweets; din­ers tuck in at Dark MoFo Win­ter Feast.

Pic­tures: LUKE BOW­DEN and REMI CHAU­VIN

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