[Western Australia] Updated Sep 2015. The Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2015 will take place during 20th – 22nd November.

The annual gourmet food and wine festival will feature eight brand new events, including Adriano Zumbo High Tea, Dining on the Jetty & The Godfather Dinner.

The ‘godfather of modern cooking’, Marco Pierre White will headline the Margaret River Gourmet Escape festival, who will host The Godfather Dinner at Vasse Felix.

Other celebrity chefs you can expect include David Thompson, Enrique Olvera, Gaggan Anand, Tetsuya Wakuda and Singapore’s very own Sam Leong.

[Original Entry] Chan Brothers Travel “whisked” me away to Western Australia’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape, an annual festival celebrating extraordinary food wine in the region.

The highlight of the Margaret River Gourmet Escape has to be the must-visit Gourmet Village, this year hosted at the Leeuwin Estate.

For a Singaporean, this is what you can call a Western Australian “pasar malam” of a much much larger scale, with endless local food and quality wine, matched with beautiful scenery.

It is an action-packed event with hundreds of booths, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, master classes and panel discussions with some of the world’s best chefs.

Linley Valley pork hock and apple terrine

If you are already thinking about going for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2015, here are some tips:

1. Plan your trip early.
Too many programmes, too little time. Know what you want, sign up for the food programmes way in advance because they get sold out or fully booked rather early.

2. Make time for other regions in Western Australia.
Perth City, Swan Valley, Hyden, Albany, Pemberton, Margaret River, Busselton and Fremantle are areas worth a visit. But this trip, we went off the beaten track and discovered somewhere new and quite unexplored – the Southern Forests. If scenic areas, farm visits and fresh local produce are your cup of tea, then you should spend at least 1-2 days at the Southern Forests.

3. Join the satellite events
Other than the Gourmet Village, there were so many other satellite events available for gourmet lovers to participate in. Personally, the Gourmet Beach BBQ was the most memorable. We enjoyed so much having fresh seafood, lamb ribs and fried fish on the beach, feeling the breeze and powdery smooth sand on our feet. While the satellite events are at an additional cost, they are definitely worth the visit.

4. Go early
Our group arrived early in the morning at the Gourmet Village and the restaurant stalls had relatively shorter queues. We heard that many of the delicious items were sold out by mid-noon.

5. Travel with a friend who drives (and maybe don’t drink)
Just kidding. Shuttle buses are provided. BUT the Margaret River region is famous for their wines, so it is not an understatement to say there are endless wines to drink. Fortunately, our tour manager cum driver from Chan Brothers Travel didn’t drink, while the rest of us could enjoy some of the finest quality wines. (For some events, the wine is free flow. Free flow!)

Highlights from Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2014
Good food can be very simple. Much of the food prepared at the Gourmet Village is cooked with the simplest of ingredients, using fresh local produce from Western Australia. I actually ended having quite a bit of salads, fruits and cold pressed juices.

Just grilled asparagus with a sprinkling of salt, divine.

A ‘char sui’ style braised lamb shoulder was just so well caramelised and tender for you to savour the full flavours of the meat. Another dish I really liked was the ‘free range’ pork croquette. The meat just tastes so ‘real’.

Celebrity chefs can be very friendly. This trip I had the honour of meeting Chef Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Modena Italy, Number 3 best restaurant in the world), Peter Gilmore (Quay, Sydney), and Darren Robertson (Three Blue Ducks, Sydney).

That of course includes Singapore’s Sam Leong. Feel so proud to see a fellow Singaporean there, wowing participants with his signature Wasabi Prawns.

All of them are so down to earth, with no airs, and so willing to share food tips and their cooking philosophies. I have learnt a lot.

Some of the other food we tried:

“The Farm House” free range pork croquette, remoulade, apple, celery lad

Char Sui braised lamb shoulder with sour cream labna and a wattle seed roll

Sashimi of tuna, ponza dress, seaweed, toasted sesame and radish

Mount Barker chicken wings with Korean-style hot sauce and quick pickled slaw

Wallaby dog with beetroot

Rainbow and strawberry champagne cupcakes

Honey layered cake

For me, it does represent a break from the urban city life, to immerse in the deep greenery, blue skies and fresh air. You know, roll out a picnic map, or sit on hay to have a chat with friends over food, hands holding a cup of cider slush.

Sometimes, random strangers would walk to us and say, “How’s it going? Where are you from?” and a conversation will start.

Are you already looking forward to Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2015?

*Special thanks to Tourism Western Australia and Chan Brothers Travel for making this trip possible.

To find out more about self-drive holidays in Western Australia, call Chan Brothers Travel Flexi Holidays at +65 6212 9684 or visit www.ChanBrothersFlexi.com. You may also visit www.westernaustralia.com for more destination information.



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