Foodies and err… winies alike, had better set aside the first weekend of June in their social calendar, because the Gold Coast Food and Wine Festival is back for its second year. The Gold Coast Food and Wine Festival is the city’s signature food and wine event, dedicated to showcasing the depth and diversity of local produce and food talent here on our very own shores. We shot a few questions about this year’s event to Food Focus’ Michelle Christoe, festival head honcho and co-founder of the NightQuarter.
Can you tell us how last year’s experience has shaped this year’s? What major changes have you made?
The 2017 Gold Coast Food and Wine Festival is a ‘whole of Gold Coast’ festival, from Beenleigh to Currumbin and everywhere in between, the festival will activate restaurants and dining spaces across the Coast.
The 2016 festival focused a lot on experiential dining, from the ‘Edible Playground’ collaboration with QT Gold Coast, to our Barbecue Wars event. In 2017, the experiential, discovery and collaboration will continue to take centre stage.
The Gold Coast is well known as a destination for entertainment, but it is less well known as a destination for food and wine. We found that there traditionally wasn’t a strong identity for the Gold Coast’s food and wine industry. What people don’t see is that things have changed a lot… and right now there is a vibrant and innovative food culture here that we are extremely proud to be a part of. From high end restaurants, to outdoor markets, to food trucks, experiential food, to fresh produce, the Gold Coast has an exciting story to tell around food and wine… the Gold Coast Food & Wine Festival 2017 is that story.
If you could create a three course meal that perfectly represents the Gold Coast’s food and wine landscape, what would you choose?
It would be a dining experience. Guests would be blindfolded and then taken to a beach, or a secluded place in the hinterland rainforest. They would crack open fresh mud crabs or hear oysters being shucked, before savouring the flavours of the Gold Coast’s fresh seafood. The waiter would serve juicy lamb, barbecued low and slow, rubbed with micro herbs grown on the Gold Coast, before breaking into operatic song at the table. Vintage cabaret dancers would serve over-the-top funnel cakes as dessert, with the crunchy texture of the waffle and the silky smoothness of the ice cream combining in a sensory overload. Each course would be paired with wine from Mount Tamborine or a beer from Burleigh. Each course would be a sensory journey of discovery of the flavours of the Gold Coast.
Give us your thoughts on the reach of the event. Is it for tourists, locals, both? What was the mix of attendees like last year?
The festival will create and curate experiences that delight locals and visitors alike, showcasing the vibrancy, innovation and uniqueness of the Gold Coast food and wine industry. One of the key experiences that tourists want when visiting the Gold Coast is a food experience, this is what the festival will deliver. Last year 30% of the attendees were tourists.
Why do you think foodie culture has seen such an explosion everywhere over the last several years?
Dining out is now a main event for many people, and restaurants have become destinations in their own right. It has become inextricably linked with social connection. Dining has become optimised for sharing, from share dishes, tapas plates and communal dining tables… to the share ability of dishes on social media.
There was a time when exciting cooking techniques and flavours were typically only available to those who could access five star restaurants, but now casual dining, food trucks and markets are allowing customers to discover a variety of tastes and flavours. Dining out is about the community coming together to share food experiences.
The Gold Coast has some of the best food experiences in the country. In terms of dining with a view, you can’t get better than the Gold Coast’s beautiful coastlines and lush hinterland. There is a huge opportunity for the Gold Coast to be recognised for its unique experiential foodie culture.
Sometimes it seems that the Gold Coast has new cafes and restaurants popping up every five minutes. What do you think are the key elements to remaining relevant and competitive in today’s come-and-go market?
It’s great that we have such a dynamic food scene, where entrepreneurs are able to open new and exciting dining experiences on the Gold Coast.
Customers are constantly seeking varied experiences. The best way to stay relevant is continue to innovate, and deliver high quality, exciting food experiences. The fundamentals of any business is to consistently deliver great experiences to customers. The great thing about the Gold Coast foodie scene is that it is driven by innovation… from The Collective’s innovative five-restaurants-in-one concept, to QT’s mind-bending food inventions, to our food trucks and market stalls who are always on the cutting edge of new food trends. As a food community, we are creative, we are innovative and we are doing things that you won’t find anywhere else.
Some people may not realise what local produce is actually available on the Gold Coast. What are some of the best items to source locally?
While the Gold Coast is not well known as a region for produce, it does have many hidden treasures. From picking grapes from the vine in Mount Tamborine, to catching fresh prawns and crabs on trawlers on the Spit, to our micro-breweries and wineries… to our artisanal breads and cheeses… there is a lot to discover on the Gold Coast. With the Gold Coast Food and Wine Festival, we not only want to celebrate this produce but the experiential aspects of the Gold Coast foodie scene that sets us apart.
What we do here in the Gold Coast is different to anywhere else. With the beauty of the natural landscape, the creativity of the community and the quality of the produce, our dining scene is distinguished from anywhere else in the world.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the event?
Food Focus is an event management company specific to the hospitality industry. Having owned their restaurants, represented the industry and created one of the major food destinations on the Gold Coast, they are well placed to amplify the voice of the Gold Coast food scene.
For punters, mouth-watering gastronomic and sensory experiences await. Performance art and musical performances incorporated into the three day festival will complement the signature dining experiences. These will include food truck meet ups, barbecue wars, outdoor dining and unique experiences within renown Gold Coast restaurants. Ticketed and free events will delight locals and visitors alike.
The festival will run from 2-4 June at various locations across the Gold Coast. Organisers are currently accepting expressions of interest from Gold Coast based hospitality businesses, producers, chefs and venues to be a part of this year’s event. Visit gcfoodandwine.com.au for more information.