The Good Food & Wine Show is one of those events which, when it rolled around, perked my interest a little but had never quite inspired me to get off my arse and attend. It wasn’t that it sounded boring, but to me it was the sort of event where you should really go with someone, and nobody I knew had been and could vouch for whether it was a worthwhile day’s outing or not.
So, when I was contacted and offered two tickets to attend this year’s show, I figured that it was a good chance to get my feet wet and see what it was all about.
Only one word comes to mind to describe this event.
I was totally unprepared for just how huge it was (and my poor feet are currently paying the price after truding about with 2kg of camera equipment all day on 2.5″ heels…), and the moment that I stepped through the entry doors, I was completely blown away. So many vendors, so much food, so much wine…I wondered whether it was even humanly possible to get through them all in just one day!
With my friend and trusted assistant Amy there to provide a helping hand, we started walking through every single aisle, taking the opportunity to talk with as many vendors as possible about their products. This aspect was without a doubt the best thing about the show. Majority of the vendors were wholesalers – selling their products to places like Woolworths and David Jones. I’d seen some of their products before but had just glanced at the packaging and walked straight past.
It was absolutely fabulous to be able to speak to the stall holders about their products, getting a chance to sample the goods that they were creating, and hearing their excitement, passion and enthusiasm for the goods that they had on display.
As one vendor said to me “We do wholesale, so we’re always talking to our suppliers, but this is the only chance we have to interact with the public, and communicate directly with them about the stuff we do!”. There were a few stalls there that sold overproduced
prepackaged meals and I admit that my own prejudices kept me from visiting them, but the overwhelming majority were niche market producers who could vouch for every single detail of their product – from when and where their berries were picked, whether any and what additives had been added to the product, and the taste.
There’s also something to be said for the range of products that were on display. Having the chance to sample so many different varieties of jams, olive oils, balsamic vinegars and other goodies really offered a chance to taste the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in flavour between different brands and makers, and talking to the vendors meant you could begin to nut out how some of these differences came about.
Majority of the vendors were amazing, particularly the wealth of knowledge that they had to offer to the layperson. Talking to one honey vendor, she had quite a bit of information to share about how different honey varieties are created. For example, have you ever wondered how an apiarist can tell that one hive has produced a particular sort of honey, especially when you can’t tell a bee just to go and harvest from lavender? Apparently the way that this is done is that during winter, when the bees are keeping warm in their hives, the apiarist feeds them just a single sort of honey (such as lavender honey) and the bees become accustomed to the taste. Then when the bees come out to start work in spring, they will actively seek that flavour so long as it is around!
I was also extremely fortunate to receive two tickets to see Gordon Ramsay, Matt Moran and George Calombaris & Gary Mehigan in the LG Celebrity Theatre. I’ll be honest here and admit that I am really not a fan of tv cooking/kitchen programs and rarely watch them, and the draw to these four chefs was that I knew they were decent cooks and had seen a little of their television personas, and I wondered what they would be like live.
Absolutely amazing, and unbelievably entertaining. Surprisingly, Gordon Ramsay had the cleanest mouth out of all four chefs, and the Masterchef duo took the prize of the most swearing, which was absolutely hilarious as they each ordered each other to take time outs in the ‘naughty chairs’ when they caught each other cursing. Matt Moran was also surprisingly hilarious – he just wasn’t having much luck in the kitchen, but just went with the flow and talking with the censors off (at one stage saying something that even he couldn’t believe he had said – standing and looking shocked with his hand over his mouth as I almost had a fit laughing).
A word here to the wise – chefs swear. Their environments are high pressure and fast-paced, and swearing becomes habit. The chefs that I’ve met in my time have all been closer to Gordon Ramsay with his ‘fucking hell’ than Jamie Oliver with his ‘pukka’. Therefore, if you really are the sort of delicate flower who can’t handle a little swearing and joking, don’t waste a perfectly good seat in the celebrity theatre by booking yourself in for a show, and leave it for someone who would actually appreciate the good laugh.
At any rate, it was pretty fabulous to see these chefs being given the chance to get comfortable and really show their personalities without the restrictions of production company requirements, and I walked out of each celebrity theatre a bigger fan of each chef than when I had walked in.
All in all, this was definitely one of the most interesting and entertaining days out that I have had this year. The only gripe that I had was that when I got there at 9:00am, half the stalls had no vendors and by the time I worked back to them, the crowds were so big that I didn’t get a chance to talk to them properly. Nevertheless, I had a fabulous time and I’m already looking forward to what will be on offer at next year’s show!
If you’re a Melbourne reader, the show is on today and tomorrow, so if you’re looking for something to do, it’s $27.50 for adult entry, and well worth every penny! You can get a small idea of what is on offer by looking through my photos of the event.
For my interstate readers – the Good Food & Wine Show will be coming to your neck of the woods on the following dates:
- Sydney – July 3rd to July 5th
- Perth – July 31st to August 2nd
- Brisbane – November 6th to November 8th
A few tips for people who are thinking about attending:
- Get there as early as possible. I was there by 8:45am, 15 minutes before opening, and a large queue had already started to form. However, this is your best chance to have a proper chat with the vendors as the later you get there, the more people there will be and you will have very little chance of talking to them.
- Bring a shopping trolley, green bags and cash. There is a lot of good stuff on sale, and the best thing to do is be prepared. I had no shopping trolley or bags as I hadn’t intending on buying much, but after browsing the stalls for 10 minutes, I conceded defeat and went to buy a shopping trolley (which they were thankfully selling inside the hall).
- Wear comfortable shoes. It took us about 5 hours to trek through and talk to every food vendor and sample their wares – and that doesn’t even include the wine (we had planned to do that as the last stop of the day, and by the time we were done with the food, we were much too exhausted).
I’d like to extend a thank you to Johanna Scott, who gave me this opportunity to attend, as well as all the fabulous vendors who happily answered my questions as well as being good-natured about rearranging their displays or assisting me so that I could get the photos that I wanted. It was a wonderful day out, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store!
[tags]Melbourne Good Food and Wine show, Gordon Ramsay, Matt Moran, George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan[/tags]