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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

A smorgasboard; local and beyond

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By: Vivienne Pearson

Does this region need another food festival? Yes, if the feedback from the Sample Food Festival (heading for its eighth year this September) is anything to go by.

‘We do a survey at Sample and a lot of people asked if we could run it every season,’ says organiser Remy Tancred.

That often might be ‘too big an ask’ but, to supplement the springtime Sample comes the brand-new winter Byron Bay Fine Food & Beverage Festival.

To be held on Saturday 3 June, in the grounds of Elements of Byron, the festival will include locals as well as those from farther afield. ‘The beer and the chefs will be mainly local, as we don’t really need to go farther afield for those,’ says Remy. ‘But we are including producers from other parts of Australia for things that aren’t available locally, such as wine.’

Is it a festival aimed at locals or visitors? ‘Both,’ says Remy simply. ‘Locals might be able to eat at the chefs’ restaurants more easily but some of them have waiting lists and you don’t often get the opportunity to say g’day to the chef, or eat one of their signature dishes for only $10.’

The entry cost of $20 gives you access to the festival’s three elements (pun intended). The first is tasting plates, created by 12 of the region’s best chefs. As it is impossible to apply any sensible criteria to the task of selecting only a couple to mention, I stuck a pin into the program while blindfolded to select: Bret Cameron from Harvest, showcasing a braised beef, smoked beetroot and Davidson plum dish; Steven Snow from Fins, dishing up sweet pork and local Brunswick king prawns with green papaya and snow pea salad; and Simon Jones, the ‘host chef’ from Elements, offering a Byron Bay carol chocolate crackle pot with raspberries as examples of the calibre of chef tasting plates (each $10).

The festival runs 11am–7pm, so you can happily tuck into these plates for lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or all three!

The second element can’t be beaten in terms of value for money: free masterclasses. You can churn some butter, discover how to make vinegar, be taken through the making of prosciutto, and be challenged to break up with your supermarket. Some classes are given by locals (Kate Walsh and Salumi) with most by interstaters and one from overseas: chef Luca Ciano, coming all the way from the home of prosciutto, Parma in Italy. For those more into the beverage side of the festival, masterclasses encompassing wine and gin will also be held each hour.

The third element is producer marquees, where you can chat with producers of fine food and drinks (local and from farther afield).

An extra drawcard is Neil Perry’s first visit to Byron. He won’t be cooking (he will have at an already sold-out dinner the night before) but will be signing books and saying hello at midday.

Tickets are available online or on the day. Masterclass registration is available on the day only, with limited spots for those wanting to get hands on (others are welcome to watch).

Byron Bay Fine Food & Beverage Festival: info and tickets at www.samplefoodevents.com



Karl+Katrina Kanetani_Town_supplied

Karl and Katrina Kanetani of Town


Stone & Wood


Simon Jones from Elements

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