Chefs, restaurateurs and sommeliers from across the country will descend on the Sunshine Coast in May to share ideas and showcase their offerings in what is shaping up as the best Noosa Food & Wine Festival yet.
Christine Manfield, Colin Fassnidge from Banksia Bistro and Lauren Aldridge from Stokehouse are among the guest chefs set to be there for the event, from May 17 to 20.
There will be more than 35 events across the weekend, with a new Festival Village and functions held in tipis on Noosa Main Beach. The town’s main thoroughfare, Hastings Street, will also be shut off for a long lunch for nearly 600 people, and there will be food tours of the hinterland and brewery trails. Other highlights include a Generation X dinner with three chefs from the era hosted by executive chef Paul Carmichael from The Star Sydney’s Momofuku Seiōbo and a women in hospitality lunch showcasing female chefs, restaurateurs and sommeliers.
Festival director Alesha Gooderham says the event is unlike any other food festival in Australia.
“Each year it’s bespoke based on what’s happening in the industry,” she says. “It’s the personal ideas. It’s almost like a handmade and curated festival. We’ll never be the largest festival in Australia, but we’re never wanting to be. We’re the most interesting and best boutique festival. The Noosa experience isn’t about volume, it’s about experience and something special.
“You get these champions of industry together to talk, share ideas and engage with their customers. By bringing them to Queensland we’re introducing them to some of our ingredients so they can then work with them in different parts of Australia. Before they come on the stage they can go for a swim in the morning. A lot of chefs come with their family and friends and make the most of the festival. Some of them are in Noosa for a week.
“It’s also crucial for the young chefs in Noosa to see a chef they are in awe of coming into their restaurant. Without engaging these staff, you don’t have an industry.”
Gooderham says not having event caterers involved is a real point of difference for the Noosa Food & Wine Festival. “We’re really trying to work with the talent in the region. We have a great calibre of restaurants in a small geographical footprint,” she says.
Ricky’s River Bar and Restaurant general manager David Jouy takes part in the festival every year and is excited to be providing dishes for several events throughout the weekend.
“Restaurants in Noosa are very passionate about their food and local produce,” he says. “We have a huge number of events happening with the best chefs from all over Australia coming in for the weekend. Noosa is definitely the place to come, not only for the beach but for the great food and restaurants. I do believe it’s going to be bigger and better as everyone wanted to take back this event. It’s easy to get the chefs on board. Everyone wanted to come to try the produce. We have everything from the river to the hinterland.”
While the event only goes for a few days, he says businesses in the area feel the impact way beyond that. “All the restaurants are busy for a week before and the week after because people make a holiday of it,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for Noosa to showcase the wonderful places we have.”
He also loves having the opportunity to chat and share ideas with chefs from cities around Australia. “Hospitality people get together and have a great time,” he says. “It’s good to get back together with chefs who are on the same page and pick the brains of everyone and get even better.”