As part of the Margaret River Gourmet Escape Festival, various Satellite Events and Fringe Events as well as the Gourmet Village were organised over the weekend. Set in over 20 stunning locations, and joined by world class culinary talent and local experts, there was something to whet every palate. The PFEs were offered tickets to one of the Satellite Event, Food for Thought presented by Breville, thanks to Bright Communications.
The Food for Thought events are sessions hosted by Australia’s Matt Preston and food critic, A.A Gill as they talk to some of the world’s finest chefs and tackle a range of controversial food topics. The sessions were held at Voyager Estate, situated right next to Leeuwin Estate. Each session came with a menu of gourmet bites accompanied by matched wine. Pretty sweet!
Given a choice of which session to attend, I decided on the one with the topic “Cooking for the Stars” held on the last day of the festival. The main reason I chose this session was because Heston Blumenthal will be one of the chefs on the panel! I got so excited just thinking about seeing him in real life! The other chefs on the panel were Clare Smyth of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Sat Bains who were not that familiar to me.
On arrival, we were seated inside the beautiful marquee set up especially for the event on the lawns of Voyager Estate. It was already quite full but we managed to sit reasonably close to the front, poised for Heston. :p
On the menu for gourmet bites were the Voyager Estate lamb slider, Lime & chilli barbequed prawn and Arancini ball. For something sweet, there were also the Turkish Delights. We nibbled on these while we waited for the session to start. The Arancinin ball and BBQ’d prawns were delicious!
On the way in I also picked up a glass of the Voyager Estate 2011 Girt by Sea Cabernet Merlot.
Then I spotted the coffee stations on the side of the marquee and went for a coffee. That was when I realised Heston and the other chefs were standing outside the marquee waiting to be introduced. Aaaaahhhh!! Screaming on the inside!
The chefs were finally ushered in, seated and the “interview” began. What the three chefs have in common are the Michelin star(s) under their possession, and this session was a frank discussion about what it means to be awarded a Michelin star, the most coveted and highest achievement in fine dining. Various questions were posed, the most interesting regarding how it feels to be put on a pedestal of being Michelin-starred and having to stay there. All three chefs felt the pressure of being awarded the prestigious Michelin star and took a long time to be comfortable enough not to strive to maintain the status and to be true to themselves.
We were entertained as well with a recollection of a story of how Heston was alleged to have kicked Gordon Ramsay out of his restaurant. It turned out to be an internal dispute between Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay who were both dining at Heston’s restaurant at the same time and the former not wanting the latter to be there. Heston was then asked to “handle” the situation. Surely such story was scandalous in nature but it must have been common knowledge to all to be told in public.
There were also talks about bringing the Michelin star rating into Australia and the move of the Fat Duck to Australia.
The afternoon at Voyager Estate was an entertaining and eye-opening session into the world of the Michelin-starred chefs. It was awesome to hear Heston live especially his description of the intricate processes involved in creating the iconic hot and cold tea palate cleanser at the Fat Duck. Another highlight was to find out more about Clare Smyth, the first female British chef to hold and retain 3 Michelin stars! The only regret I had was not being able to take a photo with Heston as they left pretty much straight after the Q&A slot! Hoping for another opportunity next time for a photo!