Margaret River region wows celeb chefs once again

With the 2018 Gourmet Escape packed away for another year, management company IMG Managing Director for Culinary Hannah Pike says she is thrilled with how the three-day festival has been received by international, interstate and local guests.

“We put together what was probably the most diverse program to date, with events for vegans, meat lovers, sweet tooths, wine and beer lovers, fans of Chinese and Mexican flavours, seafood and more,” she said.

The Festival brought together 60 culinary superstars from WA and around the world, who were joined by more than 20,000 attendees for the seventh installment of the festival since it began in 2012.

“Events took place on the ocean, the beach, in the forest, in beautiful gardens and of course at famed Margaret River wineries.”

The Gourmet Beach BBQ caterers Heyder & Shears had one of the busiest workloads over the weekend, supporting the likes of Nigella Lawson, Matt Stone, Jack Stein and Rick Stein at Castle Rock beach over the festival.

Guests feasted on 80kg of Margaret River wagyu beef cheeks, 280kg of Linley Valley pork, 100kg of south west kingfish, 50 dozen Shark Bay scallops, 100kg of Dorper Lamb, 250kg of Lilydale Free Range chicken, 180kg of North West squid and 100 loaves of Yallingup wood fired bread.

Artisan producers, restaurants and wineries exhibiting in the Gourmet Village were also kept busy with the festival’s epicenter at Leeuwin Estate Winery welcoming the highest number of visitors in the festival’s seven-year history. “I haven’t found a more enjoyable way to network and I doubt that I will,” exhibitor Kate from Little French Market Company said.

Headline visitor Nigella Lawson had a busy schedule which included beachfront conversations, hosting a late night supper, chatting on stage at the Gourmet Village, book signings and a stunning afternoon tea.

“I’m so happy to be back in beautiful WA, and Gourmet Escape was as enchanting as ever: the people, the food and the wine all equally wonderful.” Nigella said.

“And the seafood here is really, as you would expect, amazing. Marron, green-lipped abalone and squid … but also as a longtime avocado lover, to be able to come and eat avocados where they grow is a treat.”

Rick Stein has been involved for six of the seven years and said he loves coming back to Margaret River.

“It's just amazingly peaceful. It's the wonderful atmosphere of Margaret River. It's very difficult to encapsulate really. It's just a tremendous sort of feeling of being out in the country with a bit of class as well.

“As I have been here quite a lot, one of the things that really means a lot to me is actually meeting the local chefs, the Australian chefs funnily enough, who tell me stuff I never knew,” Rick said.

In 2019, the event will be expanded to include events in Perth, the Swan Valley and Margaret River over ten days, from 8 - 17 November.