Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014

Posted on March 24, 2014

It was a busy week for Chef James as he joined some of the globe’s most inspiring culinary stars at this year’s Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in Australia. 

The first event  was the Relais & Chateaux dinner comprising of four selected Relais & Chateaux chefs, each representing their respective properties - Cape Kidnappers (NZ), Meadowood Napa Valley (US), Jacques Reymond Restaurant (Aus), and Chef James here from Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet (NZ).

The objective of the dinner was for each chef to showcase a dish and a canapé that represented their respective property. Chef James chose a canapé of Duck Liver and Quince Paste Cigar as this is a really popular canapé served at the lodge using our house made quince paste. The course he chose to showcase was a Marron Salad, White Miso, and Sea Grapes. This is a dish created at the lodge using local koura however  he incorporated local marron instead to reflect a local ingredient in Australia. The night was a huge success and Chef James enjoyed meeting some of the other chefs as well as seeing and tasting their dishes.

Colin Page

Next event was the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival MasterClass, which was a sold out class for 100 people. The theme for the festival this year was Water, thus the presenting chefs were chosen because of their connection to water and their subsequent dishes reflected the theme of water as well.   A lot of thought and preparation went into what Chef James wanted to achieve in his dishes and what techniques he could pass on.

Daniel Mahon

The dishes he decided to demonstrate were the Unsmoked Salmon, consisting of Aoraki salmon, smoked cream, smoked vinaigrette, poached leeks and puffed salmon skin. The salmon was cured in smoked salt and smoked water and cooked at 40 degrees celsius  in a sous vide, thus the salmon was not smoked, yet the flavour of smoke naturally added without a smoking process. The next dish was the Marron dish (same as for the R&C dinner). The final dish was Textures of Buffalo Yoghurt and Rosehip, served with a raspberry consommé. This dish is another take on one from the lodge using our own rosehip syrup. The key techniques for each dish was the smoking of the water for the Unsmoked Salmon dish, the Marron dish demonstrated the prawn consommé and cracker techniques that Chef James thought would inspire people to recreate at home. Lastly the buffalo yoghurt bavarois demonstrated a dessert that wasn't too sweet and an interesting way of setting the bavarois (in a cylinder mould).

Colin Page

The event was a lot of work but very rewarding with amazing feedback from the people attending as well as the organizers. Chef James was really honoured to be a part of such a prestigious lineup at this world class event. One of the highlights of the trip was an organized day for all the contributing chefs to get together for a trip to Lorne, to eat (breakfast at Lorne and lunch at Brae), then try their hand at fishing where Chef James caught a couple of fish (mullet), and enjoyed the sights outside of the festival.

For a pre-festival interview with Chef James and more photos of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 - please visit their website

Photo credits - Plated images by Colin Page, MasterClass demonstration and Group photo by Daniel Mahon,  fishing image supplied by James Stapley.