This weekend has been just like Christmas, I had been waiting for it for a long time with a lot of expectations and now it’s gone. I spent almost all Saturday there but it felt like just a couple of hours.
The ticket for the show costed $28.50 and it included a reserved seat in one of the celebrity chefs’ sessions, plus all food and beverage tastings. I also bought a ticket for the Sunbeam coffee class ($30) and was planning to attend the cheese class, but all sessions were sold out.
When I arrived, at half past 10, there were already people wandering around. There were merchandising stalls where you could purchase trolleys, aprons, tea towels, wine tasting glasses and reusable shopping bags.
I didn’t buy anything there, and started looking around to have an idea of what was on offer, but then I remembered that I didn’t have tickets to see the other celebrity chefs yet. I went to the theatre box and got tickets for Gary Mehigan & George Calombaris, and for Pete Evans. Then I bought a wine tasting glass and I was ready for the action.
For a moment I thought that it would have been better to attend the morning sessions to be free to get drunk after that, but as time went by it became harder to get to sample the products and take pictures. Speaking about the photos, it was the first time that somebody told me “no photos please”. Maybe he was afraid of someone copying his salad dressing secrets? Oh! or maybe he was afraid of the free publicity that comes with blog posts. The girl in Dolcettini asked me what was the photo for, but was ok with my answer.
It was my first Good Food & Wine Show and I somehow expected top quality stuff. “Good food” also made me think in “healthy food”, which of course is not always the case. There were quality, healthy foods, like most of the nuts.
There was also fresh and frozen fruit. The girls in Creative Gourmet were offering smoothies but I didn’t get to try them because there were too many people waiting. There was also a stand with fresh blueberries ($5 a punnet), which fortunately I found just when I was about to leave.
Then there was the supposedly healthy stuff. Herbalife had a stand, as well as WeightWatchers. WeightWatchers was popular because they gave away food in tiny Asian-style takeaway boxes.
There were also all sorts of oils, vinegars and salad dressings. Olive oil was the most popular, but there was also a macadamia oil stand and an avocado oil stand. The Spanish olives and olive oil stand (they represent all brands of these products from Spain) was one of my favourites in this category.
There were also all sorts of biscuits, crackers, relishes and preserves. Most biscuit stands had a show special of 4 boxes for $10. I tried all the flavours of Tuckers gourmet crackers, which include sweet ones (coffee, vanilla, honey and chocolate) and bought two boxes of savoury and two boxes of sweet crackers. Unfortunately, there were no many cheese stands.
For the lazy people, there were ready-to-go products. Pitango soups were there, as well as duck prepared in different styles and bagged, ready to be reheated in the microwave. I tried a piece of sweet duck and it was really tasty.
There were also houseware stands, like the Miracle Shammy!, Tupperware, Lock-and-Lock and some stands with kitchen gadgets.
For the snackers, there was a huge range to choose from. This is where the “good food” name becomes dodgy.
Of course, there were also sweets that didn’t look that unhealthy.
The serious equipment included some knife stands, as well as top quality appliances.
And then there was booze. Heaps of it. Mostly wine. The good thing is that even when I drank a lot, I did alternate between alcohol and nibbles, and I was walking most of the time.
And there was beer too! Not too many breweries, but enough to sample a few nice products.
There was also sake (regular, plum and mixed), Spanish sangría (which tasted very much like the cask sangría you can buy in Lima), hand made vodka (I tasted the rose and coffee flavours), cocktails in buckets, and other boozy goodies.
Speaking about booze, Skyy Vodka hosted a barman competition.
On the non-alcoholic side, there was plenty of coffee to choose from.
There was also canned stuff that is not precisely gourmet but becomes very handy, especially at show prices. I bought three cans of my beloved palmitos in a Latin stand.
The show had a restaurant featuring menus created by the celebrity chefs. It didn’t cross my mind to go and spend money with all that free food sampling going on, but people seemed to enjoy the dishes.
Celebrity chefs made appearances in the GoodFood magazine area and were signing books in the show’s only bookshop. There were also cooking demos going on.
There were queues for entering the celebrity theatre. Only when you see the packed theatre too see two chefs talking a bit about them and cooking a few dishes, you realise how much food is impacting people right now.
On the beginning of each session, the presenter pulled three people from the audience to play a game (the classic blind-folded “guess what you’re eating” game). Also, the guy from Jacob’s Creek gave away some bottles of wine, and people were picked out from the audience to sit with the wine guy and watch the show from the stage.
Gary and George prepared a roasted vegetable salad (with beetroot and onions, plus hazelnuts), a beetroot, feta and olive oil dip, prawns sandwiched between two layers of hummus and roasted, and prawn tortellini (they made the pasta on stage). They made a lot of jokes and showed the proper way of using all your fingers to try the food. Six people were chosen from the audience to sit down on the table on stage and enjoy what was prepared food matched with the sponsor’s wine. The chefs gave away prizes (signed books, pans and a espresso machine) to people who answered Masterchef’s trivia questions.
Pete Evan’s pizza making show was not packed and I found it slightly boring. His mate Pauly was supposed to entertain people but I had the feeling that there were more interesting things outside, so I left when he was rolling his dough. I did get a useful tip: to roll dough on semolina flour instead of regular flour for a crispier pizza base.
Matt Moran’s show was the best, in my opinion. His sous chef arrived with a whole lamb, which Matt butchered in front of the amazed audience. Some people didn’t like that part, especially the vegetarian girl who was given a wine because she had “nothing else to look forward to” from the show. Matt made fun of vegetarians, which I would have found offensive if I was one. But it seems that nobody cared because he cooked some amazing looking dishes: roasted lamb with roasted vegetables and gravy, sea scallops with spices (turmeric, etc) seared and served with serrano ham, Brussels sprouts leaves and chestnut pureé, sea scallops served with baby carrots, and lemon mousse with raspberries. Two single girls and two single boys were chosen from the audience to feast on Matt’s food (he was trying to hook them up). A girl got on stage claiming to be one of the boy’s girlfriend, I don’t know if it was true or she just needed attention.
One of my last stops was at the Sunbeam coffee class. First Erin showed us how to pour a perfect shot (from bean grinding to knowing when to stop the machine), and Ivan showed us how to texture and pour the milk.
Then we went to our places, where each of us got a coffee grinder, a espresso machine, a jug of milk with thermometer, two coffee glasses, two coffee cups, two takeaway cups, an apron and a bottle of milk (this one was shared with the person beside).
We practiced as much as we could (my shots were brilliant but my milk pouring sucked) and in the end there was a competition, in which the best flavour and the best milk design were rewarded with Sunbeam grinders.
I did learn a lot from this super fast class, and went home with a Sunbeam bag which included a coffee magazine, a recipe booklet, a Gloria Jeans coffee beans bag, a small Sunbeam coffee beans bag and a plastic reusable takeaway cup.
Before leaving I sampled a few more products (more wine!) and bought two blueberry punnets.