The Adelaide Food & Wine Festival came out of nowhere last year to deliver a festival this town was waiting for.
From social media post to eight-day, 30-plus event food and wine extravaganza four months later – the Adelaide Food & Wine Festival came out of nowhere last year to deliver a festival this town was waiting for.
The Adelaide Food & Wine Festival returns this April. Although the program won’t be out until March 11, Creator and Director Amanda James-Pritchard believes there will be between 40 and 50 events in 2014, including this year’s signature event – the Town Picnic. James- Pritchard says planning for this year’s festival is travelling at the speed of a freight train.
“We’re so far ahead of ourselves,” she explains, “if I think about where I was this time last year, let alone two weeks before. It’s fantastic. It’s all coming together really well. There’s always a few red herrings in the mix, but that’s what happens when you try and do things that are a bit out of the ordinary.”
Some of these out of the ordinary events include the return of the Don Dunstan Tribute Dinner at Fino, regional celebrations at five iconic South Australian food and wine regions such as the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale and Think. Talk. Food>Wine, a forum featuring speakers such as Feast’s Richard Gunner, winemaker James Erskine, Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood and wine journalist Mike Bennie. Think. Talk. Food>Wine’s theme is ‘Collaborators or Competitors’ and is presented by The Adelaide Review.
James-Pritchard, who moved to Adelaide from Melbourne six years ago, previously was a publicist for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and runs Kooki PR. In late 2012, she posted on Facebook about a plan to start a food and wine festival. After support from food and wine identities, James-Pritchard commenced organising. Four months later the inaugural Adelaide Food & Wine Festival was staged with 30-plus events, as well as its big-ticket dinner – Market Feast at the Central Market. Punters and producers alike embraced the festival, guaranteeing a return this year.
“It just snowballed. I thought maybe we’d have 10 events and I was really planning it around this after-hour feast at Central Market that to me felt it would be the hinge of the Adelaide Food and Wine Festival.”
Held on Tasting Australia’s off year and when there was doubt as if the biennial event would return (it is, from April 27-May 4 with Simon Bryant and Paul Henry in charge with Maggie Beer as its patron), James-Pritchard believes this fresh air was part of its success.
“Who knew what was happening with Tasting Australia and I just thought, ‘Well if I don’t do it now, someone else will do it’. It was a now or never thing, that’s why it came together so quickly. I had been thinking about it for the six years I’d been living in Adelaide – literally the first minute I started working in Adelaide I had the idea to have an Adelaide Food and Wine Festival.”
The Festival hit Adelaide at around the same time that our gastronomic scene exploded with exciting new bars and restaurants.
“That’s just a fluke,” James-Pritchard comments on the timing.
“Lachlan [Colwill] made his way to Hentley Farm and with Duncan [Welgemoed] at Bistro Dom and Jock [Zonfrillo] leaving Penfolds/ Magill Estate to start Orana, it is a very exciting time in food. Since I’ve been here the wine’s always been exciting with emerging varieties, but I think with the more restaurant-side of things doing well it gives people a chance to focus on the independent winemakers, people like James Erskine [Jauma] and Taras [Ochota Barrels].”
This year’s major event is the Town Picnic, which is an old school themed picnic, held at Rymill Park with guest Peter Russell-Clarke, as well as chefs Salvatore Pepe (Cibo) and Jimmy Shu (Hanuman). James-Pritchard is planning to attract thousands of people to the retro picnic, which includes a dogfriendly area for dogs and their owners.
“I’m trying to recreate my best ever family picnic from when I was a kid because I think everyone has fond memories of that. There will be four different corners of cuisines with an old school slant and North Adelaide Country Women’s Association are doing a cake stool and picnic hampers.”
The grass-roots, not-for-profit and community-driven festival has a team of about 30 volunteers including ambassadors Gill Gordon-Smith (Fall From Grace) and Rebecca Sullivan (Dirty Girl Kitchen).
“I said to them that they can be as hands off or as hands on as they want. I’m not going to push them to do anything really, except to be really great ambassadors for the festival and they have been. They’ve both done amazing things so far.”
Ultimately, James-Pritchard says she is like a party planner – as the Festival is about people enjoying themselves.
“It’s about connecting people to producers, produce and places. It’s about exploration and discovery but ultimately having a really, really good time. ”
Adelaide Food & Wine Festival
Friday, April 4 to Sunday, April 13
Think. Talk. Food>Wine
Tuesday, April 8 (9am-5.30pm) National Wine Centre