I’ve just arrived home from an amazing few days at Queensland's Regional Flavours food weekend.
Held in the South Bank Parklands along the Brisbane River in late July each year, it’s one of the best food festivals I’ve ever been to.
I’d never thought of Brisbane as a culinary centre until I was invited to demonstrate some of my recipes at last year’s event, so I was surprised to discover that the urban development of the river, with all its amazing restaurants, has made it one of the most exciting and vibrant foodie places around.
This is my second year as a headline presenter at Regional Flavours, and hanging out with legends like food writer Matt Preston, celebrity chef Miguel Maestre and River Cottage Australia host Paul West as well as a host of other well-known Australian foodies was so much fun.
Attending events like this makes me feel so happy to be able to take my philosophy of building a more sustainable, resourceful way of life out to the world. I love the opportunity to fly the flag for New Zealand and it’s so inspiring to share experiences and recipes with other cooks who are equally passionate about their own local produce.
It's also fantastic to get to meet so many home cooks who have enjoyed using my recipes, and being able to chat via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook makes it all so immediate and interactive. Congratulations to Lisa Maclean, the winner of our social media giveaway of two copies of my book Simple Pleasures - one for her and one for a friend. That's her and me in the photo below – check out my tagboard for more photos.
Aside from all the free cooking demos, one of the things that makes this festival so much fun are all the ‘eat fleet’ food trucks run by local restaurants, and the stalls run by passionate Queensland food producers. The variety of ingredients and food on offer is incredible – everything from vanilla beans, capers, finger limes, wild bush fruits, berries, tropical fruits and vegetables to amazing cheeses and breads. I was in heaven!
I was scheduled to give several demonstrations during the weekend, and of course I had my recipes that I had agreed to demonstrate, but with all the amazing produce to hand I couldn’t resist a bit of impromptu ‘cooking the landscape’.
Each morning I would do a run around some of the stallholders to gather up some of their goodies, then I’d transform them on stage into all kinds of simple but fabulous dishes. This is my kind of cooking – partner the freshest ingredients with some interesting pantry flavours for the speediest meals imaginable. Like swirling a dollop of oozy ashed camembert onto the bottom of a plate, piling a little salad on top and finishing it with a drizzle of local olive oil and some fig balsamic – yum!
This event is one that’s going into my annual calendar – it’s such a great fix of all the things I love about food in one magical space.