“G’Day, mate!” – a greeting in Australian English
Located in the south west corner of Western Australia, Margaret River is one of the world’s hotspots for biodiversity and every year in November it serves as the backdrop for the extraordinary Gourmet Escape Festival, presented by Siemens.
Excellent Gusto met the acclaimed British chef Heston Blumenthal and Australia’s own culinary icon Peter Gilmore at the press conference held at the Crown Metropol Perth for the Gourmet Escape Festival, which opened with greetings by the Honourable John Day. For Blumenthal cooking is about experimenting; for Gilmore it is about giving thought and expression to local produce. It was an encounter between two cultures and two different ways to “feel” which came together in the consideration that experiencing “good food” is a core part of being happy!
The Gourmet Escape Festival is one of the top events in the world aimed at showcasing food and wine, “a real foodies dream!” as described by chef George Colombaris. “Honestly, I do not think that there is any other food event on this planet like this one!” exclaimed Heston Blumenthal. Food and wine become a celebration of the Land and its story through the use of spectacular interactive attractions dedicated to lovers of wine, gastronomy, music and entertainment.
All visitors of the Gourmet Escape, from Australia and overseas, have the chance to explore the famous Margaret River wineries, visit the villages and talk with local producers and chefs. “Being here I feel like a kid in a candy store. And it is not just because of all the Chefs, as it’s the farmers and producers that do all the hard work – the produce is amazing!” said chef Darren Robertson. Everyone involved has the opportunity to discover an incredibly distinctive territory, a unique region in the world that combines the beauty of the environment with climate, food, smells, local produce, atmosphere and spirit. Margaret River is the only wine region in Australia boasting beautiful pristine beaches, spectacular tree forests and cave systems dating back 40,000 years; such unique and irreplaceable locations give strong and unforgettable emotions.
By showcasing the quality local produce of the world renowned Margaret River wineries, the Gourmet Escape has attracted the interest and good praise of well over 50 global ambassadors to date, including some of the world’s best chefs and wine experts like Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, Peter Gilmore, Rick Stein, George Colombaris, Matt Stone, Davide Scabin, Sat Bains, Aboriginal chef Mark Olive, as well as many others. All of them, together with local renowned chefs experimented with the local produce and shared culinary tales, which created magical experiences of culture and taste.
The program of the Festival included more than 15 satellite events throughout the region and showcased more than 120 local high quality producers. Each event was presented and commentated by numerous acclaimed national and international food and wine journalists and critics such as Matt Preston, A.A. Gill, Anna Gare, Rebecca Sullivan and Nick Stock. A.A. Gill in particular pointed out “the thing that is particularly brilliant about this food festival is that this isn’t in a conference centre or in the middle of the city, but rather in this incredible landscape!”.
At the centre of all the action was the Gourmet Village, situated in the stunning grounds of Leeuwin Estate winery. The Gourmet Village grouped in one location the best restaurants, wines, beers and food of the whole region. Visitors were able to participate in panel discussions and shake hands with the culinary stars who guided wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and masterclasses, sitting with them at the table to savour unique dishes and excellent wines.
Educating the public on wine and local produce as well as providing local production companies with a sales platform are two factors which have contributed to the success of the Festival. The Executive Director of Events at Tourism Western Australia, Gwyn Dolphin, explained that the Gourmet Escape gives prominence to the excellent local food and wine production in order to promote Western Australia as a tourist destination. The presence of acclaimed international chefs ensures worldwide exposure to the event and positions Australia at the forefront of the global debate on food topics which, in this young and modern Country, allows for the development of a “Food Thinking” free from preconceptions.
Excellent Gusto would like to thank Janine Pittaway, Principal of Bright Communications, our tireless guide to the Festival.