Margaret River Gourmet Escape, presented by Audi, has marked its sixth year (16 - 19 November 2017), and cemented its reputation as one of the most successful world-class food and wine events to date. Australian culinary royalty Curtis Stone was joined by more than 50 the world’s leading food and wine personalities for the four-day festival, which this year celebrated the famed wine region’s 50th anniversary with a record number of events.
Curtis officially opened the festival with its hallmark event, the Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ on Castle Rock Beach, and reflected on his brief time back in Western Australia, where it all began: “I had an absolutely brilliant time in Margaret River. It’s a testament to the region that this truly outstanding event continues to attract the very best international culinary talent. It’s a world class event that needs to be on everyone’s bucket list.”
The world-renowned father and son duo Rick and Jack Stein admitted they have a love affair with WA and its premium produce, taking part in the festival for the fifth time. They both thrilled fans at the Gourmet Village during Rick’s ever-popular book signing, while Jack teamed up with former pro surfer Taj Burrow for a “surf and turf” main stage talk. Rick said this year’s event was hard to top because he had Jack by his side. “He keeps me in line,” he said.
The Global attraction of this event was again evident through the involvement of Jancis Robinson OBE, described by Decanter magazine as ‘the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world’, returning to the region for the first time in 15 years thanks to Gourmet Escape.
Joining these global superstars at the festival this year was an enviable line up of new and returning food and wine talent, including chefs from the World’s Best Restaurants* Andre Chiang (#14 Restaurant Andre, Singapore), Alex Atala (#16 D.O.M., Brasil), David Thompson (#28 Nahm, Thailand), Ashley Palmer-Watts (#36 Dinner by Heston, UK) and Rodolfo Guzman (#42 Borago, Chile), World’s Best Female Chef Ana Roš (Hiša Franko, Slovenia) and Asia’s Best Female Chef May Chow (Little Bao, Hong Kong). They cooked alongside a raft of local and Australian talent, forming bonds likely to create meaningful business and personal relationships for years to come.
Passionate festival goers who visited The Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate were able to get up close and personal with their chef idols at demonstrations & book signings, sip their way through acclaimed and emerging wineries and get hands on in the Lurpak Cookery School. Many local producers used the opportunity to showcase new and emerging products to grow awareness and get new audiences excited about what they’ve created. The added music program created a great vibe and set the scene for an amazing weekend.
Over a breathtaking four days, organisers, chefs and personalities were raving non-stop as this year being the best event to date, some highlights include –
- Back for the third time, Brazilian chef, Alex Atala, described Margaret River and the food and wine experience as “next level” to what he’s experienced around the world.
- Larry Cherubino of Larry Cherubino Wines cellar door said feedback has been really positive. “I loved that the guest chefs were front and centre in the kitchen. I enjoyed our first foray into Gourmet Escape a lot. The event gave us some great ideas for next year and we’ll definitely do it again.”
- Seth James of Wills Domain on working with Andre Chiang – “It was an honour to cook with him and experience delivering Andre’s Octaphilosophy at Wills Domain. “All of the eight elements resonate with our unique Margaret River environment and we got to showcase the best of local produce in our collaboration. It was a memorable night for everyone in the room.
- Chef Kirk Westaway from Singapore visited Gourmet Escape and Margaret River for the first time and said it was an incredible location. “The food and ingredients have been amazing and it’s an exciting place to be. All of the food I use in Singapore right now is based on European seasons, so it’s in the reverse here. The freshness of the vegetables and the flavour contrasts I’ve had here compared to what’s available in Singapore (which comes from all over the world) is really special. I’d like to return to Singapore with a lot more involvement in Australian produce,” he said.
- Wine personality Nick Stock said: “What a beautiful way to close out the 2017 Gourmet Escape festival in beautiful Margaret River. Twenty-eight tastings and talks, three beach parties and the most fun I’ve had in all the six years.”
- Since its inception in 2012, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape has welcomed more than 160 of the world’s most influential chefs, food and wine influencers to the region, and over 100,000 passionate food and wine loving visitors- with an economic impact alone last year of $9.1 million.
Event Director Katrina King said this year’s festival had been huge, with an extra day added, more than 60 chefs and talent involved, 50 events and 25 event locations. “Combined with the 50th anniversary of the Margaret River Wine Region there’s been plenty to celebrate. Our visiting chefs have been singing the region’s praises, loving the quality of the produce, the fresh air and coastline and the friendly locals.
“We had an increase in ticket sales on last year and we’ve exceeded the 19,000 capacity we had in 2016, which was a record attendance for the festival. A massive thanks to all the local producers and their teams who have worked tirelessly across the week to make it so memorable, and to our event partners for making it possible. We can’t wait to do it again next year.”
For more information visit www.gourmetescape.com.au.
(*Ranking in World’s 50 Best Restaurants - http://www.theworlds50best.com/)