Until I moved over to this part of the world, i.e., the Pacific, the concept of Australia as a foodie destination never even entered my head. Vegemite and kangaroo burgers? Hard pass.
But a foodie destination it is, and it didn’t take long for me to wake up and smell the perfectly brewed coffee to know that the dining in Australia is fabulous. And actually, vegemite is delicious (who would have thought?!)
Home to many amazing restaurants, world-class chefs, incredible wine, and tons of great festivals centered around exquisite foodie experiences, Australia quickly become one of my favorite places in the world to wine and dine. With a short flight over from New Zealand means that it’s always within easy reach.
And nowhere does it better than Margaret River in Western Australia.
A must-visit food region in Australia, Margaret River is the epicenter of it all, home to some out of this world wine and food experiences. Any time of year you’re guaranteed to be blown away, though if you had to chose a date, block off the 15th to 18th of November, 2018 right now.
Don’t ask questions. Trust me.
Margaret River really comes alive during Gourmet Escape, WA’s extraordinary festival of food and wine. For four days, tens of thousands of people converge on this marvelous corner of the world, all united in a strong love for food, wine and beer, and beautiful places.
Nothing unites like food, right?
With so many magnificent events to chose from, from pop-up feasts in the forest to beachside BBQ’s to galas at some of the stunning wineries, there is a range and style for everyone to chose from.
Margaret River is home to delicious cafes, stunning wineries and plenty of lovely spaces beckoning you to sit down and stuff your face.
As I grow older, my love for food and travel continuously grows stronger. I like to think I’m a foodie without any of the snobbery that might go along with that. I love good food of all styles, not necessarily the most expensive or fine dining. I just like exceptionally good food.
Know what I mean?
Last year over 50 of the best chefs in the world converged at Gourmet Escape in a celebration of food and wine and all things delicious.
And even though Gourmet Escape draws in some big names in the foodie world (Oh hi Curtis Stone and Nigella Lawson!) it doesn’t have any of the intimidation factor that you might expect from an event of its caliber.
It’s chill, fun and relaxed. No shoes on the beach, downing beers with your friends, dancing under the stars. It’s incredible.
It’s fabulous and unpretentious in a way that only WA could manage.
With access to the Gourmet Village, home to hundreds of booths for food and wine and live music, events and even cooking classes, it’s definitely the beating heart of the festival.
We spent most of our time booked in at many of the pop up events and meals, from long lunches to fancy dinners, eating as slowly as possible in the vain hopes we could squeeze in a few more canapés. But the last few days of Gourmet Escape we made sure to spend time wandering amongst the Gourmet Village itself, soaking up the sunshine and sipping on frozen rosés, which is totally a thing!
How have I gone on this long without that?
It’s super hard for me to pick a favorite moment or memory from Gourmet Escape last year. It was all so overwhelmingly fun, bright and delicious, I think it took me about a week to recover when i got back home to New Zealand. And it definitely took about a month for me to fit back into my skinny jeans.
Probably one of the coolest events we had tickets to was the Feast in the Forest, at the Safari Club at Leeuwin Estate, one of Margaret River’s great wineries. Hosted by renowned chef Roger Mooking (host of Food Network’s “Man Fire Food”) deep in the forest he cooked up a fantastic meat-filled lunch cooked up by Canadian Michael Hunter, with a wood-flame and forest theme.
And don’t get me started on the deconstructed s’mores for desert. Drools.
Besides s’mores, another highlight from Gourmet Escape 2017 for me had to be getting to meet May Chow, the chef behind one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Little Bao in Hong Kong. Named Asia’s best female last year, she is a mighty force to be reckoned with.
Eating at Little Bao in Hong Kong last year was one of the greatest meals I’ve ever had, ever, like of all time. Seriously. Yum. Omg.
Their theme? Bao burgers and happy food. Does it get any better than that? Don’t think so.
Perhaps it was the rosé slurpees, but I fangirled May Chow so hard. No regrets guys.
I managed to snag a last minute seat at one of her pop-up cooking shows, where she walked us through her story of Little Bao and also how she perfected the perfect bao bun over the years, culminating in the most exquisite pork belly bao burger.
Best. Day. Ever.
Gourmet Escape for me was everything I could have hoped for an more.
Good food. A good time. Inspirational humans doing great things in the foodie world in a diving setting in Margaret River. I left feeling happy, full and a bit fat, with an suitcase full of wine.
Can’t wait to come back!
Have you been to Gourmet Escape? Are food festivals on your radar? Where’s your fave? Share!
Many thanks to Gourmet Escape for hosting (and feeding) me in Western Australia. Like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me! And a million thanks to miss Madeleine Jones for helping me photograph WA!