Foodies, restaurant buffs and music fans will flock to Auckland’s waterfront next week for what’s gearing up to be an extra special Taste of Auckland. The country’s biggest celebration of food and drink, this year’s 10th annual Taste of Auckland presented by Electrolux kicks off next Thursday 1 November with a new seaside venue and a host of other firsts.
On for four delicious days and nights, the festival will take over Queen’s Wharf, with restaurants, fine food producers, wine makers, distilleries and craft brewers spread throughout The Cloud, Shed 10 and surrounding outdoor spaces. A food lover’s paradise, a crowd of up to 30,000 is expected with a roll-call of top Auckland eateries set to push out a staggering 45,000 dishes.
Up from the usual 10, the 12 restaurants on this year’s line-up include newcomers Culprit with modern Kiwi yum-cha and little sister eatery Lowbrow with its take on short order fast/good food, seafood specialists Shucker Brothers, and slow cooked meats from Matakana favourite the Smoko Room at the Sawmill Brewery. Also new to the festival are Gerome offering Greek-inspired fare, Xoong with their take on Asian fusion, plant-based favourite Little Bird Organics, and dessert specialists Miann.
In a series of firsts for the festival, this year’s new seaside location sees participating restaurants paying homage to the ocean with a sustainable seafood theme. On the menu are live shucked oysters with lemon or mignonette from Shucker Brothers; chorizo XO clams with tuatuas, fried noodles and chicken salt from Culprit; and soft shell crab gua bao with gochujang mayo and pickled shallots from Xoong. Kingfish tataki with toasted noree puree and apple and fennel salad is on offer from the Smoko Room at the Sawmill Brewery, along with spaghettoni pasta tossed with parmigiana reggiano and aromatic king prawn salsa from Farina, and crowd favourite, Baduzzi’s ½ Karitane crayfish. Gerome will be serving up barbequed wild prawns and the Vodka Room, a hot smoked salmon salad.
Vegans and vegetarians are well catered for with the festival’s first dedicated vegan eatery. Launching a much-anticipated new dinner offering at the festival, plant-based offerings from Little Bird Organics include smoked watermelon sashimi, watercress, yuzu and miso; hemp taco with BBQ cauliflower and fermented sriracha; kimchee slider with plant based cheese on an activated charcoal bun; and wild mushrooms, foraged herbs, cashew blue cheese and walnut crisp.
Popular dessert eatery Miann will feature as the first dessert-only eatery, with sweet treats such as mini Miann waffle with caramel bananas and chocolate; raspberry sorbet balloon with coconut sago and coriander; and lemon verbena ice cream with meringue crisps and freeze dried fruit salad.
And in another first at the festival, some of the country’s top music acts including Tami Neilson, Barnaby Weir & Friends, Hollie Smith – DUO, Sola Rosa Sound System, Hopetoun Brown, Laughton Kora and Omega Levine also feature on the schedule, the new venue allowing for live music to be enjoyed alfresco against a picturesque harbour backdrop.
This year’s international guest chef Lachlan Colwill comes from the two hatted Hentley Farm in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. Coming to Auckland courtesy of YOU Travel, guests can catch Colwill in the Electrolux Taste Theatre. Partnering with Air New Zealand and the South Australian Tourism Commission, YOU Travel is also offering packages to South Australia, with one lucky festival goer set to win a trip for two.
Joining Colwill in the Electrolux Taste Theatre for free live cooking demonstrations is an impressive list of local talent including Nic Watt from Masu, Josh Barlow from the Sugar Club, Juan Balsani from Baduzzi, Megan May from Little Bird Organics, wholefood writer Kelly Gibney, Marco Edwardes from Alibi Brewers Lounge, Vanessa Baxter from The Fearless Kitchen, Rewi Spraggon from The Maori Kitchen, Alok Vansanth from The Tasting Shed and independent chef Neil Brazier.
Electrolux is also giving foodies the chance to cook with some of the best chefs in the business at the Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets. Learn the tricks of the trade first-hand in an intimate hands-on masterclass with the likes of Lesley Chandra (Sid at the French Café), Nobu Lee (Clooney), Jason Kim (Sidart), Gareth Stewart (Euro), Nishant Arora (Cassia), Dariush Lolaiy (Cazador), Man Mohan Singh (1947 Eatery) and Neil Brazier.
Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets is limited to 16 guests per session. Tickets are only $15 and include a welcome cocktail, masterclass experience, gourmet meal shared with the chef, glass of te Pā wine and a sweet treat. Space is available on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to arrive early to secure your place.
As part of opening night celebrations, each official Taste restaurant will vie for the coveted ‘Best in Taste’ award, with last year’s award taken out by Miss Moonshine’s Hawke’s Bay lamb, fired pumpkin and chimichurri. This year’s judging panel includes Chand Sahrawat from Sidart, Sid at the French Café and Cassia, Lachlan Colwill from South Australia’s Hentley Farm and NZ Herald Viva editor Amanda Linnell.
Marking ten years of Taste, opening night will see lucky ticket holders enjoy a very special ‘10 year celebration dinner’ with a three-course tasting menu designed by leading chefs and personalities Michael Meredith, Sid Sahrawat and Josh Emett, recognising these chefs who have helped shape the local culinary scene over the past decade.
This will be followed on the Friday afternoon with a celebration of modern New Zealand cuisine, helmed by top restaurants The Grove, Clooney and Cazador. A Friday evening event will showcase Food of the Future with Josh Barlow from The Sugar Club, Gareth Stewart from Euro and new Chinese fine dining restaurant Red Wall 1939, with No. 1 Family Estate providing the sparkle across all three events.
Says Festival Director Rob Eliott: “A whole decade in the making, this year's festival is going to be pretty special. It’s a chance for us to reflect on the development of the Auckland food scene, how strong it has become, and a chance to ponder on what the future might hold. “After years of work behind the scenes, we’re excited to bring Taste to the CBD and put on the major harbourside festival that Auckland deserves. “With such a huge pool of talent involved this year, so much good food and music, a superb location and easy access from all over Auckland and beyond, we see this as a great day out for all Aucklanders. We know November weather in Auckland can be fickle, so we’re pleased to now offer an all-weather venue.
With more than 120 artisan producers spread around on site, get set to sample everything from sparkling mead from Lone Bee, to premium meat cuts from Greenlea Butcher, fair trade chocolate from Trade Aid, sweet treats from Scratch Bakers, and organic smoothies and juices from Greenleaf Organics, plus cheeses, coffee, pates, hot sauces, honey, and so much more.
The Good Taste Zone features healthy offerings from vegan eatery Little Bird, organic and biodynamic wine specialists Churton Wines, edible insects from Eat Crawlers and meal kits from Hello Fresh.
Take part in the Radio Hauraki Craft Beer Trail which runs through the festival with breweries Renaissance, Little Creatures, Harrington’s, Laughing Bones, Liberty, Lagunitas, Tuatara, Lakeman, Te Aro and Good George, sample top drops from 20 of the country’s leading wineries, and be part of a special Italian celebration of Vespa’s 50th anniversary of the first Primavera created in Italy.
With the new CBD location providing much improved access to trains, buses and taxis, parking is available in nearby Downtown and Britomart carparks and Fullers Ferries are running ferries from the North Shore, Waiheke, Gulf Harbour and Half Moon Bay.
Tickets available on the day or via the Taste website, with General Admission from $30, Premium tickets $65 and VIP tickets from $95. A new multi day passes with access to all six sessions is also available. By recycling crown currency cards and other fundraising measures, the festival aims to provide 4,000 lunches for kids in need via social enterprise Eat My Lunch.
For more information, click here to head to the Taste of Auckland website.