Taste of Auckland 2017

My favourite food festival just gets better and better every year. If you have only one foodie event you can attend, make sure it’s Taste of Auckland. This huge outdoor festival located in Western Springs is always abuzz with excitement and of course, food. There’s a huge line up of exhibitors showcasing their great products along with copious amounts of tasters to sample as you wander through the grounds, speckled with crowd favourite eateries such as The Vodka Room, ArtWok, and Saan to allow you to sample various restaurants at a time while dining al fresco to live music. Throw in the Electrolux theatres hosting cooking demos by well known chefs as well as hands-on cooking classes, there is no shortage of options on entertainment to keep you occupied.

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First things first, GEORGE CALOMBARIS FROM MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA WAS HERE. I saw him in the flesh. I watched him mingling near us amongst everyone at the Media Opening Reception (thank you Lemongrass Productions for the VIP invitation!) but was too shy to approach him to ask for a photo with him. The Media Reception was hosted in the Electrolux theatre and was a great way to kick off the show with a few drinks and hors d’oeuvres with the chefs (shout out to Jason and Jonathon from ArtWok, definitely making my way there soon) and well known figures such as Ray McVinnie and other social media influencers. Again, I was too shy to approach those ones so I was just internally screaming while widening my eyes meaningfully at my partner every so often.

After loosening up with a few glasses of bubblies, it was time for the winners of Best in Taste Awards to be announced by George Calombaris (Masterchef AU), Ray McVinnie, and Amanda Linnell (Viva Editor).

  • 3rd Place: Lon Phu Nim- Crispy fried soft shell crab with pickled crab & coconut sauce, dill & coriander from Saan
  • 2nd Place: Crispy quarter duck with orange, ginger, Vietnamese mint and spiced salt from TokTok
  • 1st Place: Hawkes Bay lamb (GF) with fired pumpkin, chimichurri from Miss Moonshine’s

After which, the festival was open to the public and we were off to explore and meet up with our friends to eat and drink to our hearts content. To take full advantage of time at this festival, I always go for the full session time. Seriously. If it starts at 5:30, get there at 5:30.  For me, that is just enough time to make one full leisurely round of all the exhibitor stalls as well as attend some of the Electrolux events. I adore the enthusiasm of everyone there and love having a chat to them while savouring the food and getting slightly tipsy on the alcohol. There is plenty of banter to be heard and great personalities all round.

But enough chatter from me, I’ll let the photos to the talking. Below are just a minor example of the offerings on hand (hover over the photos for captions / info or click to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

At 7:30 pm, we made our way to the Electrolux Taste Theatre where you can watch your favourite chefs cook up a storm live on stage and pick up handy hints, tips and tricks of the trade. There are three free-to-attend demos at each festival session so be sure to get in early to grab a seat. The chef of the hour was Bertrand Jang from Kai Pasifika Restaurant who whipped up a couple of dishes below.

 

Next, we wandered the festival again before heading to the Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets. Similar to the Electrolux Taste Theatre, it’s a cooking demo but with a more hands on approach as you get to create and share a dish with your favourite chef. Included in the experience was a Famous Vodka cocktail, a hands-on signature dish masterclass with the chef, a wine match to go with the creation, and a dessert from Miann to finish. Such a great experience and spaces are very limited so I suggest you head there first to secure your booking.

 

The schedule on the day we went was Orgy of Mushrooms with Ricotta Gnocchi hosted by Sean Connolly from The Grill. The class was very relaxed, very fun, and we all got to take home the recipe and the Electrolux chef apron (very quality. I like).

 

 

 

After a kneading massage, a simmering bath, a sizzling sear, and an alcoholic splash, the dish came together in a jiffy and we all gathered at the table to enjoy a lovely meal together.

 

We headed back out again to try more dishes from restaurants (sadly I have no photos, don’t be dumb like me and forget to charge your camera) and pick up a few products we said we’d return for (tip: keep your hands free and buy everything at the end), before reluctantly exiting the festival after hearing the announcements that it was nearly time to close. Thank you for another incredible year Taste of Auckland. I miss you already and can’t wait to see you again next year.

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