Tag: Festival

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The Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, the most joyous food festival we’ve ever visited (part 1)

appetizers at hinterland tour lunch, noosa international food and wine festival

My greedy, gorgeous wife S and I have been to many food and wine festivals, in many different places, over the last decade and a half. We’ve attended festivals as speakers, as working journalists and as members of the public. Some festivals are rather high-brow. Others try hard to connect with the everyman. Many others fall in between, offering a mix of small, exclusive (which means expensive) dinners coupled with affordable experiences that can accommodate large crowds. This can be a hard formula to get right, and many festivals are still struggling to find the right balance. A few others, however, seem to have discovered the magic formula for food festival success.

A few weeks ago, S and I found ourselves attending such a festival. Not only has the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival (held in the small holiday/retiree town of Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast) perfected the balance between luxury and accessibility, it’s done so with a laid-back sense of humour that is utterly infectious. Before Noosa, I had never attended a food and wine festival in which everyone–the chefs, producers, participants, even the festival staff–seemed to be having so much fun. And for that alone, I would definitely consider going back again and again. 

Quick Q&A with Joanna Savill


Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald. Taken by Edwina Pickles.

As mentioned in my previous post, uber-foodie Joanna Savill is Festival Director of the Sydney International Food Festival. Joanna kindly allowed me to pester her with a few questions about this year’s SIFF.

CH: Hi Joanna! We had a great time at the Showcase. Can I start by asking how different is the Festival this year under your direction?
Essentially this is the very first Sydney International Food Festival as it replaces an event called Good Food Month. So it’s new. Having said that, Good Food Month favourite events have continued such as Let’s Do Lunch and Hats Off (set menus in leading restaurants) plus the huger-than-ever Night Noodle Markets. But what we’ve done is broaden the focus to include a strong international visitor component, particularly with the World Chef Showcase (brand new) and also extend into Greater Sydney with community-based festivals and other events. The other big thing is a focus on food issues, with talks and forums on sustainability, food security, GM and more.

Sydney International Food Festival (a small slice)


Chefs from the Showcase Gala Dinner posing while plating. Photo by Dominic Loneragen of the(sydney)magazine.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending quite a number of food festivals in different parts of the world. Most recently, I was in Sydney, Australia, to check out the first-ever Sydney International Food Festival, both as a panel-speaker and also as an invited observer. I was particularly excited to head down under for this particular festival because its director, the amazing Joanna Savill, is an old and very special friend. Joanna is one of the most respected foodies on the planet, let alone Australia. Among her many accomplishments, Joanna is co-editor of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and co-creator of the landmark TV Series, The Food Lover’s Guide to Australia. My darling wife S and I first met Joanna back in 2001 (of course, we were already fans) and have been friends ever since then.

Joanna has taken what used to be known as the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Month and has turned it into a stellar international food festival worth planning your Australia trip around. The Festival is still a month-long, with different programmes and components happening throughout the month of October. Whether a person is more into gritty streetside dining or is a fan of fine dining, the Festival has been truly able to deliver an experience for each and every kind of foodie out there. Joanna’s also smartly sexed up several events, introducing star power to bring in the crowds. For example, the Festival’s opening event was a day of Barbecue Madness. But Joanna didn’t just bring in anyone to lead the barbecue. Oh no… she enlisted the help of Fergus Henderson of St John in London to work with 12 well-known Sydney chefs, turning a simple bbq into a powerhouse gastronomic event!

I had flown down to take part in the World Chef Showcase. This 2 day series of talks and demonstrations featured some really amazing culinary talent. The theme for this year’s Showcase was The Best of Asia, which I thought was fantastic. We don’t even properly celebrate our own region at most of our own festivals. I thought it was inspiring and exciting for the Sydney Festival to be championing the best of Asian cuisine, chefs, food writers, and restaurateurs. The participant list was simply amazing. Superstars like David Thompson, Peter Gordon, Pichet Ong, Jereme Leung, Kylie Kwong, Alvin Leung, Fuchsia Dunlop, Cheong Liew, Rainer Becker, Neil Perry, Chui Lee Luk, Andre Chiang, Yu Bo, Yoshihiro Murata, Mamoru Tatemori, and Tetsuya Wakuda (among others) all took their turns on stage during the weekend of 10-11 October. Each day, there were three consecutive tracks of talks and demos. On the first, Track 1 focused on Thailand and Vietnam; track 2 on China; while track 3 was the “world” track which featured chefs like Sergi Arola and Alexandre Bourdas. The second day, track 1 was Asia; track 2 was titled “Creative”; and track 3 focused on Japan.

Mundaring Truffle Festival


Chef Alain Fabreques dishes chopped truffle over his signature truffled eggs

Last weekend, my darling wife S and I skipped town to check out a festival that we’d only recently heard about, but which we knew we simply had to attend. The Mundaring Truffle Festival, held in a small suburb just 30 minutes drive from Perth, Western Australia, is a gustatory celebration of the Black Perigord Truffle. The Festival’s official literature describes it rather perfectly: “For one glorious, over-indulgent weekend during the height of the West Australian truffle season, the picturesque hills community of Mundaring transforms into a bustling Festival village filled with truffle-themed events, an open-air produce market, the annual Perth Hills Wine Show and much, much more.” The Festival, which took place 8-9 August, also happened to coincide perfectly with Singapore’s National Day (long weekend) holiday. Perfect timing for us.

The Mundaring Truffle Festival is in its third year and while marketed primarly domestically, it is begining to attract foreign visitors like S and me. This year, the Festival attracted over 25,000 people, which more than doubled last year’s attendance numbers. I can only imagine how massive and well-attended this Festival might become over the next 5-10 years. It has the potential, if it’s growth is planned and managed well, to become one of the most exciting and leading food festivals in the region.

Four Seasons Bangkok WGF: Fatema Hal

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Four Seasons Bangkok WGF: Michael Mina

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Four Seasons Bangkok WGF: Marco Talamini

Marco Talamini is the chef de cuisine at La Torre di Spilimbergo in northeastern Italy and is considered by some to be one of Italy’s best chefs. Earlier today, as part of the Four Seasons […]