Dark Feast a Winter treat
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