Thursday, January 1, 2015

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

I attended the Margaret River Gourmet Escape held on 20-23 November; the press release that follows gives some idea of the magnitude of the event, which was incredibly well organised given the multiple activities going on up and down the region. For much of the time I was based at Leeuwin Estate doing masterclasses, so was in the centre of the village activity that attracted over 13 000 people over the three days. It was striking how very few of those attending showed any signs of being even mildly intoxicated. I guess the large number of children trailing in the wake of parents and friends acted as a natural break. - JH

The 2014 Margaret River Gourmet Escape, presented by Siemens home appliances, saw 21,917 tickets sold – more than double the number of the first Gourmet Escape in 2012 and cementing the event as a must attend for food and wine enthusiasts the world over.
8,288 people attended the 20 satellite events set in picturesque and unique locations including forests, beaches and wineries where 49 international and Australian chefs, food and wine experts engaged with audiences and showcased quintessential produce and wine from the South West.

13,629 food and wine lovers soaked up the vibe of the Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate where they sampled and sipped their way around Margaret River and greater WA through the 170 exhibitors and restaurants showcasing their wares.

“Each year we aim to up the ante and deliver a truly unique and exceptional program of events which have evolved as well as the creation of new ideas to ensure we are properly representing the region and all it has to offer to international, interstate and local audiences,” says Margaret River Gourmet Escape Event Director, Naomi Wilson.

“This year we pulled out all stops to create a massive weekend for lovers of food, wine, music and fun which is evident from the new additions to the program including Matt Preston and A.A. Gill playing quizmaster at the Gourmet Food Trivia Night; sundown wine tastings and DJs on the beachfront at Sunset Beats and Bites and the high end International Cabernet Celebration at Cape Mentelle, to name a few. We also saw an exciting fusion of local and native ingredients with an international twist. Unique dishes on the menus included:  

  • Saltwater crocodile, fermented mangrove seeds, black ant (Jock Zonfrillo at Land to Vine)
  • Kangaroo tartare, sandalwood miso, ants and sea herbs (Matt Stone at Farm, Forage, Graze)
  • Poached West Australian marron, cauliflower cous cous, finger lime, vas el hanout broth (Clare Smyth at Michelin Greats at Voyager Estate)
  • Pan seared sea scallops in red curry sauce (Sam Leong at East Meets West)
  • Botrytis Cinerea dessert dish incorporating 66 ingredients (Heston Blumenthal & Jonny Lake at Michelin Greats at Voyager Estate)
 “Similarly we incorporated new interactive features at the Gourmet Village such as the Regional Pavilions, a new wine attraction and food photography classes, which undoubtedly contributed to its huge success and large visitation – much to the delight of visitor, exhibitors, sponsors and celebrities in attendance such as Layne Beachley, Kirk Pengilly, Adam Garcia and Simon Le Bon.”

“What makes Margaret River Gourmet Escape different from any other food and wine festival on the planet is not only the ability to showcase the region’s offerings in breathtaking remarkable locations but also the genuine enthusiasm from the participating chefs, food and wine experts which is integral in promoting the Margaret River Wine Region to a local and global market,” says Wilson.
To this end, accolades from participating chefs have started pouring in:
“Everything’s laid on. It’s just an absolutely brilliant event from the village to amazing dinners with some of the best chefs in the world. You know there’s very few things that you can go to like that,” says Clare Smyth, Chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, UK.

Similarly Australia’s own acclaimed chef and restaurateur, Jacques Reymond has nothing but compliments for the event saying, “Margaret River Gourmet Escape is one of the best events in the country. I’m very emotional to be here because it’s a wonderful part of Australia. It’s so remote but once you get here you feel at home, and it’s wonderful.”

Margaret River Gourmet Escape aims to deliver a program unlike any other which incorporates a lauded international and local line up of food and wine talent, this year including the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, Rick Stein and Peter Gilmore. Margaret River Gourmet Escape also attracts significant national and international media exposure with journalists from the UK, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, China, USA and Indonesia attending the event.
Last month, the West Australian State Government announced continued funding for the event until at least 2017.

The next Margaret River Gourmet Escape will take place from 20 – 22 November 2015.
For event information:

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