In previous years, Gourmet Escape has spotlighted one major headliner – Nigella Lawson last year, Curtis Stone before that. But given this year’s event is, for the first time, expanding to include the Swan Valley and Perth as well as Margaret River, it comes as little surprise there’s more than a few blockbuster names on the line-up.
Enter Momofuku founder and television personality David Chang; the original celebrity chef Marco Pierre White; and his mentor, Pierre Koffmann of three-Michelin-starred restaurant La Tante Claire in London. They’ll head up a program of more than 50 food, wine and music stars across 10 days and three WA regions.
Previously held throughout Margaret River, this year’s Gourmet Escape festival begins in the Swan Valley, moves to Perth and the capital’s top restaurants, and finishes in Margaret River for its closing weekend.
Pierre White might have been referring to the Margaret River region when he described his 2015 experience as “life-changing”, but this year he will star at the festival’s flagship Swan Valley event: Gourmet Feast in the Valley, a brand new family-friendly food and music event at Sandalford Winery.
Meat will feature prominently. Other visiting chefs for the event are Australian-born self-proclaimed “hardcore carnivore” Jess Pryles, and Christian Stevenson, aka “DJ BBQ”, famous for combining his talents as a pitmaster and his love of music. Australian alt-rockers the Rubens will headline supported by Triple-J Unearthed discovery Fergus James, and six-piece soul act Odette Mercy and Her Soul Atomics will also perform.
The Swan Valley will also host the inaugural World Gourmet Symposium, a trade event exploring the future of the food, beverage, tourism and hospitality industries, with contribution from headliner David Chang and additional speakers. Chang will also bring the Korean- and Japanese-inspired flavours of Momofuku to the Gourmet Beach BBQ, and Pierre Koffmann will join with Leeuwin Estate head chef Dan Gedge for a dinner at the pioneering Margaret River winery.
The rest of the Margaret River program is no less hunger-inducing. Herbivore? Amanda Cohen of vegetarian happy place Dirt Candy will collaborate with local chef George Cooper (Tiller Dining) on a vegetable degustation using produce grown on Cooper’s farm. Seafood lover? From Fin to Tail: Saint Peter x Amelia Park brings together Josh Niland, one of the world’s most talented fish whisperers, and Amelia Park’s Blair Allen, a well-respected champion of local produce.
There will be two Into The New Africa events with two of the continent’s foremost chefs: South Africa’s Kobus van der Merwe, of The World Restaurant Awards’ Restaurant of the Year 2019, Wolfgat, and Ghana’s Selassie Atadika (Midunu). They will team up with Paul Iskov of Fervor to celebrate a mutual respect for food and country.
Eating At The Crossroads – with former Fat Duck test kitchen chef Ivan Brehm (Nouri in Singapore) and Vasse Felix’s Brendan Pratt – will explore shared food flavours.
Cult cooking figure Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese Food, New York and San Francisco) will join Malcom Chow to deliver a Chinese banquet at Misson Chinese x Chow’s Table.
And Italian chef and TV identity Carlo Cracco will team up with Cape Lodge’s (Yallingup) Tony Howell for Ristorante Cracco.
The new Safari Club Cookout has a cosmopolitan line-up of chefs. David Thompson and Garima Arora – recently named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019 at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards and the first female Indian chef to receive a Michelin star – will prepare a Thai feast. And WA boy done good Matt Stone will host an Australian barbeque with Orana frontman Jock Zonfrillo.
There’s plenty of local talent on the bill, too. Manuka Woodfired Kitchen’s Kenny McHardy and Scott Bridger (Bib & Tucker) will cook at one of the Gourmet Beach BBQs, and Wills Domain head chef Seth James is teaming up with Alla Wolf-Tasker of regional Victorian culinary retreat Lake House Daylesford. More details about the Perth program will be released in August.
Gourmet Escape runs November 8 to 17. Tickets go on sale Thursday July 18.