Last Saturday, over 1200 people gathered against the impressive backdrop of the refurbished Issac Theatre Royal to be motivated and uplifted at TEDxChristchurch's sixth annual event. In the name of innovation and "ideas worth spreading", people came in droves to hear an array of inspirational speakers. Or did they come to eat their lunch? Who could really blame them when TEDxChristchurch has such a well known reputation for presenting a feast of delightful and distinctive cuisine at their events.
Providing food en masse is always a challenge. Living up to the high standards of last year’s fine fare – which gained global recognition for its focus on using locally sourced produce – could have been a difficult task. Enter three local, innovative chefs: Richard Till, Alesha Bilbrough-Collins and Jonny Schwass who rose to the task at hand and delighted the TEDx attendees with three colourful food options for lunch.
All dietary requirements were taken into consideration when designing the menu for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Raw food expert Alesha Bilbrough-Collins of BearLion foods catered for the gluten free and vegan faction by serving up two of her speciality salads. Option one was raw pickled beetroot with green peas, cumin seeds, tarragon and walnut cream with option two being roasted pumpkin, whero peas, tomato and fenugreek. It was a thing of beauty to witness the cardboard clamshell cartons full of colourful salads all lined up ready to go.
Richard Till wowed attendees with his two metre wide Paella pan designed and engineered locally, especially for the occasion. Prawns, calamari, monkfish and vegetables were added periodically throughout the morning and stirred with a shovel. The morning tea break saw swarms of intrigued individuals stopping by to view the marvel of the largest seafood paella they’d ever seen. Red capsicum and mussels provided the finishing touch and once complete, a round of applause could be heard across the large pop-up kitchen. The finished product was a sight to behold.
Jonny Schwass of Harlequin Public House was on site with his signature ‘Charcoal Relief Unit’ cooking a Waipara hoggart for all to see. By morning tea, a light breeze ensured the aroma of barbecued meat enveloped the whole site. The spit-roasted hoggart was served with a barley and spring vegetable slaw, smoked garlic yoghurt and grilled flat bread to a stream of rave reviews.
Providing quality, healthy food options for delegates is of upmost importance for TEDx food co-ordinator Irene Boles. With a nose for finding the ‘best of the best’, an intuition she attributes to being Italian, Irene was responsible for organising and sourcing the chefs, caterers and more than 40 volunteers.
“Promoting small local businesses that make food not only for money but for passion is important to me,” Irene says. Local caters such as Cakes by Anna, Make it Raw, Kakariki kitchen, Festa in Tavola and Mosaic by Simo contributed to the morning and afternoon tea selection available.
Organisers should be proud of putting together such an insightful event this year. An all-round success from the food point of view, perhaps next year the camera stays at home and I get TEDx’d.