Margaret River Gourmet Escape will return this November (16-18) for the seventh annual installment of the extraordinary festival of food and wine described by returning star Nigella Lawson as an 'astonishing' event in a 'magical' destination.
Having fallen in love with the Margaret River region when she attended the event in 2016, Nigella will take part in a series of events over the festival weekend including the iconic Gourmet Beach BBQ (Friday 16 November, Lunch and Dinner), Nigella's Tea Party at Howard Park Winery (Sunday 18 November), as well as appearances and a book signing at the Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate (Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November).
Not alone in her affection for the event, other returning stars include crowd-favourites Rick and Jack Stein, Tetsuya Wakuda, Matt Stone, Jo Barrett, Mitch Orr and Guy Grossi, who'll be joined by an impressive line-up of new talent, to host over 45 events in more than 25 unique and breathtaking locations.
International stars visiting the festival for the first time in 2018 include Australian, London-based chef and author Skye Gyngell of Spring, London. Joining her from the UK is MasterChef: The Professionals and TV regular Monica Galetti of Mere, London. Also making their debut are Louis Tikaram who left Australia for the bright lights of West Hollywood to bring Fijian, Chinese and Indian flavours to the LA restaurant E.P. & L.P as well as Chef's Table favourite Niki Nakayama of LA based modern Japanese kaiseki restaurant n/naka.
Hot off the World's 50 Best Restaurants List announcement last month, Julien Royer (Odette SING, Number 28), James Lowe (Lyle's UK, Number 38) and Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal UK, Number 42) will make their way to the food and wine mecca of Margaret River to host extraordinary and memorable dining experiences.
As well as the Gourmet Beach BBQ and Gourmet Village, other iconic and much-loved events including Feast in the Forest, Sunset, Beats & Bites, Fraser Gallop Estate Long Lunch and Dining by Twilight at Margaret River's Secret Garden will return to the program.
New events on the menu at Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2018 include:
Amelia Park Spring Harvest Dinner will bring together Australian-born Skye Gyngell of Spring London, with Danielle Alvarez of Fred's Sydney and Blair Allen from Amelia Park Restaurant to celebrate the incredible local produce and seasonal cooking philosophy shared by all three chefs. Expect a thoughtful, unforgettable dinner inspired by West Australian spring flavours paired with Amelia Park's award-winning wines with commentary from winemaker Jeremy Gordon, overlooking the incredible vineyard and views of the Wilyabrup Valley.
Caves Road Cantina at Black Brewing Co. will see two of the world's most accomplished Mexican chefs, Edgar Nunez from Sud 777 MEX (Number 64 in The World's 50 Best Restaurants) and Rosio Sanchez from her world-renowned taqueria Hija de Sanchez in Copenhagen, serve up a snack party of Mexican delicacies using amazing local produce. This will be washed down with a selection of local craft brews from five of the region's top breweries.
Smith & Daughters 90s Trattoria Dinner will see chef and author Shannon Martinez of Melbourne's Smith & Daughters transform the restaurant at Wise Vineyard into a vegan Italian trattoria. Taking inspiration from the Italian family restaurants of her childhood and years spent living in the Lower East Side of New York City, the party will be fuelled by a selection of Margaret River wines and a soundtrack of toe-tapping tunes that mirror the same fun vibe of her cooking.
Chow's Table Chinese Feast will bring together three young guns of modern Chinese cooking for one high-energy evening of food, drink and story-telling – Andrew Wong from London's Michelin-starred A Wong, Victor Liong from the super hip Melbourne laneway diner Lee Ho Fook, and local hero and host Malcom Chow, owner of the recently opened Chow's Table in Yallingup.
Fishtales with Rick Stein at Wills Domain will provide food for thought – how sustainable is the seafood we're eating? That's just one of the topics local seafood producers will be discussing at this thought-provoking event, with a seafood menu prepared by Stein's son Jack and Seth James from Wills Domain, followed by a Q&A with Rick Stein.
Niki Nakayama's Chef's Table at Miki's Open Kitchen will be an exclusive event with just 36 seats, showcasing the elegant Japanese cooking of Niki Nakayama from Los Angeles' modern kaiseki restaurant n/naka, at local tempura hotspot Miki's Open Kitchen. One of the stars of Chef's Table on Netflix, this is the first-time Nakayama will bring her deeply personal, seasonally-inspired cooking to Western Australia.
Lyle's V's Ester Dinner at Larry Cherubino Winery will reunite James Lowe of London's beloved Lyle's, with Mat Lindsay - Australian Gourmet Traveller Chef of the Year 2018 and chef-owner of Ester in Sydney. The duo will serve up a menu that will showcase local produce from the South West, inspired by their last collaboration at James Lowe's Game series in the UK back in 2015.
Guy Grossi Aboard Ocean Dream will transport guests along the stunning Geographe Bay in an Ocean Dream Charters luxury, 25-metre twin-catamaran. Enjoy the ultimate Italian summer canapé reception with matched beverages, prepared by Italian celebrity chef Guy Grossi, the man behind Garum at the new Westin in Perth, all surrounded by the blue hues of the Indian Ocean.
Wine-lovers will be equally spoilt for choice this year, with the prestigious Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting and Long Lunch with commentary by Sarah Ahmed (Friday 16 November), the Cullen Chardonnay Tasting & Lunch, with lunch by Tetsuya Wakuda (Saturday 17 November), and the annual Leeuwin Art Series Dinner (Friday 16 November). Vasse Felix, Arimia Estate, Cape Lodge, Yarri Restaurant and Fermoy Estate will also be joining the party in 2018, hosting distinct and unforgettable food and wine events over the weekend's program of events.
The heartbeat of the festival is the Gourmet Village, set on the stunning grounds of Leeuwin Estate Winery. Over the weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November (11am to 6pm), the Gourmet Village will be food and wine central with more than 120 artisan food producers, winemakers and brewers from around Western Australia, alongside visiting chefs and wine experts. Guests can enjoy cooking demonstrations at the Chef's Amphitheatre, hear intimate panel discussions at Consuming Conversations and enjoy live music. Children will have the chance to get their hands dirty, with kids cooking classes that will teach positive food habits through fun and interactive workshops. Tickets start at $40 with various packages available.
*See below for full list of visiting chefs and wine experts. The full programme of events can be found at https://gourmetescape.com.au
Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2018 Line Up:
Nigella Lawson (UK)
Rick Stein (UK)
Julien Royer (Odette, Singapore) #28 in World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018
James Lowe (Lyle's, UK) #38 in World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018
Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, UK) #42 in World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018
Jake Kellie (Burnt Ends, Singapore) #61 in World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018
Edgar Nunez (Sud777, Mexico) #64 in World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018
Andrew Wong (A. Wong, UK) #3 in the National Restaurant Awards UK 2018
Jack Stein (Rick Stein, UK)
Jeremy Chan (Ikoyi, UK)
Laetitia Rouabah (Benoit, USA)
Louis Tikaram (E.P & L.P, USA)
Monica Galetti (Mere, UK)
Niki Nakayama & Carole Iida Nakayama (n/naka, USA)
Rosio Sanchez (Hija de Sanchez, Denmark)
Sarah Ahmed (The Wine Detective, UK)
Skye Gyngell (Spring, UK)
Aaron Turner (Igni, VIC)
Alia Glorie (Billie H, WA)
Alice Zaslavsky (VIC)
Amy Hamilton (Liberte, WA)
Chris Morrison (Sommelier, NSW)
Danielle Alvarez (Fred's, NSW)
Guy Jeffreys (Millbrook Estate, WA)
Guy Grossi (Grossi, VIC)
Jerry Mai (Annam, VIC)
Jo Barrett (Oakridge, VIC)
Joel Valvazori-Pereza (Lulu La Delizia, WA)
Justine Schofield (Everyday Gourmet, NSW)
Luke Mangan (Luke Mangan Group, NSW)
Mat Lindsay (Ester, NSW)
Matt Okine (Shortcuts to Glory, NSW)
Matt Stone (Oakridge, VIC)
Mauro Bortolato (Sommelier, Glass Brasserie, NSW)
Melissa Leong (VIC)
Melissa Pelinkas (Young George, WA)
Mike Bennie (The Wine Front, NSW)
Mitch Orr (ACME, NSW)
Nick Stock (Winer writer, VIC)
Peter Gunn (IDES, VIC)
Rebecca Sullivan (Warndu, SA)
Shannon Martinez (Smith & Daughters, VIC)
Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya's, NSW)
Tommy Payne (WA)
Victor Liong (Lee Ho Fook, VIC)
Aaron Carr, Yarri Restaurant
Blair Allen, Amelia Park Restaurant
Brendan Pratt, Vasse Felix
Dan Gedge, Leeuwin Estate
Evan Hayter, Arimia Estate
George Cooper, Food by the Chef
Hayden Vink, Black Brewing Co.
Heath Townsend, Wise Vineyard Restaurant
Iain Robertson, Cullen Wines
Jeremy Gordon, Amelia Park Wines
Malcom Chow, Chow's Table
Mikihito Nagai, Miki's Open Kitchen
Paul Iskov, Fervor
Seth James, Wills Domain
Tony Howell, Cape Lodge
Vanya Cullen, Cullen Wines
Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix