Superb food and wine, exciting pop-up events and a fantastic line-up of culinary talent add up to one mouth-watering festival.
By Georgia Rickard and Paul Robinson
Published: 16 November, 2017
The annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape, celebrating the produce of Western Australia, is one of Australia’s largest food and wine festivals. This year’s event features an abundance of food, premium wine and a line-up of culinary superstars including local hero Curtis Stone and the World’s Best Female Chef of 2017, Ana Ros. This year, there’s also an extra day on the menu.
- Where: Margaret River, Western Australia
- When: 16 - 19 November
- Price: tickets from $40
Margaret River Gourmet Escape highlights
Things to do
Meet celebrity chefs
With the region’s spectacular natural beauty and its enviable reputation for fine food and wine, Margaret River Gourmet Escape attracts the world’s top culinary talent. This year’s international chefs include Ana Ros (Hisa Franko, Slovenia), Pierre Koffmann (La Tante Claire, London), Andre Chiang (Restaurant Andre, Singapore), Alex Atala (D.O.M, Brazil), Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner By Heston Blumenthal, UK), May Chow (Little Bao, Hong Kong), Rodolfo Guzman (Borago, Chile) and Kyle Connaughton (SingleThread Farms, US). You’ll also see local stars such as Australian chefs Shane Delia (Maha, Melbourne), Luke Nguyen (Red Lantern, Sydney), Andrew McConnell (Cutler & Co, Melbourne), Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Brahimi, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth), David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok) and Peter Kuruvita (Noosa Beach House).
Sample the best local produce
The Gourmet Village is the beating heart of the festival, located within the immaculate grounds of Leeuwin Estate Winery. Festivalgoers will have the chance to check out the chefs at the World’s Best Chefs Table, and sample the wares of more than 120 artisan food producers, restaurants, winemakers and brewers, including Má Là Dumplings, Rivendell, Rustico at Hay Shed Hill, Xanadu Wines, Linley Valley Pork, Lucky Chan’s, Young George Bar & Kitchen and Due South. Take a gin-blending masterclass at the Margaret River Distilling Company’s “Giniversity” or explore the niceties of butchery at the Butcher’s Block with Eat Australia’s Ben Milbourne and Andy Allen. There will be interactive cooking demonstrations and live music from the main stage throughout the event.
Unleash the sommelier within
While the Margaret River is a relatively young wine region – the first vines were planted in 1967 – it has quickly established a reputation for growing some of Australia’s best grapes. To celebrate the region’s 50th birthday, guests can channel their inner sommelier at the Margaret River Icon Tastings in the Leeuwin Estate Art Gallery, led by internationally acclaimed wine critics Nick Stock and Jancis Robinson OBE, MW (UK), and expert Huon Hooke. Check out the wild fermentation wines at Masters & Makers or get a two-day Sip Package and sample some of Margaret River’s finest drops in the VIP Leeuwin Platinum Lounge at the Gourmet Village before a Cabernet Icon Tastings masterclass. Festival favourite Around the Barrel is also hosted by Nick Stock, hosting the region’s most influential winemakers. And at the World Discovery Dinner at Voyager Estate, Jancis Robinson will be pouring and discussing an outstanding selection of wines from Voyager Estate and other local wineries.
Forage for lunch
Get out into the beautiful WA bush and enjoy a special culinary experience amidst nature’s wonders with The High Life. After a scenic helicopter flight over Margaret River, you’ll land in a in a top-secret location where award-winning chef Paul Iskov and his innovative team from Fervor — a unique roaming pop-up restaurant — will prepare a delicious lunch from foraged and local ingredients accompanied by Margaret River wines. On arrival at the secret spot, guests will slake their thirst with a cocktail of native foraged ingredients crafted by mixologist Vijay Mudaliar from Singapore’s Native cocktail bar.
Enjoy a taste of Italy
Two Michelin-starred Italian chef Anthony Genovese (Il Pagliaccio, Rome) will partner with local legend George Cooper (FoodbytheChef, Margaret River) and the crew at Olio Bello — one of Australia’s top producers of certified organic extra virgin olive oil — for O Sole Mio, a long-table lunch in the olive groves of Olio Bello’s beautiful estate. After an aperitivo and stuzzichini, take a behind-the-scenes tour featuring an olive oil tasting and a mini-masterclass. Then relax under the olive trees to enjoy a hearty rustic Italian lunch.
Buy tickets to the Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ and you will dine on the shores of the Indian Ocean and enjoy cocktails, canapés and local produce cooked on the fiery grill. Last year was a sell-out, so this year there’s an extra session on the Thursday evening. Huge tepees will transform Castle Rock Beach at Dunsborough into a stylishly laid-back waterfront restaurant. Manning the grill will be five renowned Australian chefs – Curtis Stone (Gwen and Maude), Peter Kuruvita (Noosa Beach House), Josh Niland (Saint Peter), Shane Delia (Maha) and (honorary Australian) Rick Stein (Rick Stein at Bannisters). Their delicious continental-inspired menu will be well matched to regional wines. After dining, dance the night away to a live band as the waves lap the sands.
How to get there
From Perth, hire a car to drive three hours south to Margaret River or fly to Busselton, 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of Margaret River. Once you arrive in Margaret River, there are accommodation options to suit every budget. Visit www.margaretriver.com for more information.