Combine a trip to beautiful Margaret River with a chance to meet one of the world’s most innovative chefs.
When Heston Blumenthal decided temporarily to close his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray for refurbishment, he didn’t have to think too hard about finding a new home for his trademark egg and bacon ice cream.
In a move he describes as “the furthest migration of a duck”, the innovative and experimental chef will relocate his team to a country he applauds as being one of the world’s most adventurous foodie destinations, Australia.Prior to setting up shop in Melbourne’s Crown Resort in February, Heston will also be headlining Western Australia’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape in November.
The fact one of the world’s most famous chefs has chosen to focus his attention on Australia is not accidental – the land Down Under is now gaining popularity with foodie travellers.
“Of all the nationalities, Australians are the most enthusiastic,” Blumenthal said recently while promoting this year’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape. “The restaurant scene and the wine industry have been booming for some time, but I think the main thing has been the effect of Aussie Masterchef. I’ve never seen an explosion in food in a country quite like that.”
He suggests this is partly due to the lack of any historical food culture.
“The other end of the scale is Italy,” he laughs. “You order a cappuccino at lunchtime and you’re the devil. Put parmesan on a seafood pasta and you’re the devil’s brother! Things are done a certain way because they’ve always been done like that. Australians have a greater level of adventure.”
Blumenthal himself first visited Australia 15 years ago, but only properly explored West Australia last year, and was immediately impressed by the scenery.
“It’s the most beautiful location of any food event I’ve ever been to,” he says. “The sand is white, the water is crystal clear and you’ve got some fantastic wine estates around – places like Cullen and Leeuwin. For three days you’re completely immersed in food and wine.”
Blumenthal will be joined at Gourmet Escape by Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Modena Italy) and Guillaume Brahimi (Guillaume Sydney and Bistro Guillaume, Melbourne and Perth) amongst others, for cooking demos, BBQs, dinners and tastings.
“It’s one of those events that doesn’t actually seem like you’re working because you’re with a lot of your mates,” he says.
So what new flavours could you expect to savour at the event?
“The marron are amazing,” recommends Blumenthal. “They also have the best beef in the world…and some of the best truffles are coming from Australia.
“One of the most incredible smells that I’ve tried to capture, but never been able to, is of an unbroken eucalyptus.”
So will eucalyptus porridge make it onto the Fat Duck menu soon? With Blumenthal, anything is possible.
To plan your trip to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape visit www.gourmetescape.com.au. The event will run from 21 November to 23 November.