Thousands of foodies and restaurant buffs will descend on Auckland’s waterfront next week for Taste of Auckland.

Kicking off Thursday 31 October, the country’s biggest celebration of food and drink will see 14 top restaurants and more than 60 top chefs and their restaurant teams push out a staggering 40,000 dishes to feed a hungry crowd of more than 20,000 expected across the four-day festival.

Organisers say due to Auckland’s changeable weather, this year’s event is taking place largely under cover in The Cloud and Shed 10, with some al fresco dining areas, and restaurants and bars all with their own marquees.

“Guests can attend knowing they will be in comfort no matter the weather conditions. And for all those longing for the tropics, guests can enter to win a five star escape in Fiji courtesy of YOU Travel,” says Festival Director Rob Eliott.

The restaurant line-up includes nine who are new to the festival, including Filipino eatery Nanam, Italian favourite Andiamo, Indian Epicer, the Viaduct’s Oyster & Chop, CDB darling Hugo’s Bistro and Miann Chocolate Factory.

In a festival first, a special Collab Kitchen involving leading chefs Nick Honeyman of Paris Butter, Josh Barlow ex Sugar Club, Hayden McMillan ex Etta of Melbourne, Lucas Parkinson from Ode in Wanaka, and Phil Clark of Phil’s Kitchen is also sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Also making an appearance for the first time – a special sashimi bar by the clever team at &Sushi, and a coastal themed mobile caravan from the Crab Shack. Rewi Spraggon and Ganesh Raj are also no strangers to the event, both having been involved in stretching boundaries with the Gourmet H?ngi in 2015 and 2017, but this time they return with their wood fired h?ngi pit on the wharf fronting The Maori Kitchen.

Kyle Street and Jordan MacDonald return to The Shed with Culprit and their fresh and seasonal take on fast food at Lowbrow, as do popular Asian fusion eatery Xoong and oyster specialists Shucker Brothers.

From further afield, get set to be entertained by one of the biggest names in the global culinary scene, Marco Pierre White. Dubbed the ‘godfather of modern cooking’ and inspiring a generation of chefs when he became the youngest chef to receive 3 coveted Michelin stars, festival goers will have ample opportunity to see and hear from the leading British chef, restaurateur and TV personality.

Catch Marco daily on the Taste Main Stage with local guest MCs including Mark Southon, Gareth Stewart, Stacey Morrison and Kelly Gibney asking the questions that everyone wants to know.

You can also see Marco live in action in the SUB ZERO & Wolf Living Kitchen on the Friday evening and both Saturday sessions. Entrance is free with your festival ticket and Marco will discuss his career while creating some signature dishes with his executive chef Andrew Bennet from The English House in Singapore. Open to the first 400 people, be sure to arrive early to grab a good seat.

VIP ticket holders on the Friday evening can also be part of a more intimate dialogue between Simon Gault of Giraffe and Marco in the VIP Platinum Lounge and on Sunday afternoon guests will be treated to another Q&A, this time between Marco and Grove and Baduzzi restaurateur Michael Dearth.

A chance to celebrate the rich and diverse food and drink that Auckland has on offer, Festival Organer Rob Eliott says festival goers can expect to enjoy a great lineup of chefs, producers, winemakers and brewers in an interactive and creatively inspiring environment. New aesthetic touches are also being added to this year’s festival.

“Taste of Auckland reflects the creativity, precision and artistry of the culinary world, bringing together food lovers who cherish quality and cutting edge experiences. With that in mind, we are working with local artists to install artworks and decorative features to complement the Queens Wharf environment and enhance the Taste of Auckland experience.”

With new festival zones to explore, head to The Shed to discover a new favourite craft beer, meet some of New Zealand’s best boutique wineries or sip on a smoky whisky, all while savouring a curried goat corn dog from Culprit, aged beef tartare with horseradish and dripping toast from Hugo’s Bistro, or a fried birthday cake sundae with sprinkles and vanilla soft serve from Lowbrow.
Or treat yourself at the Decadence Collective, starting with delicacies from the special Sashimi Bar created by the clever team at &Sushi or freshly shucked oysters from Shucker Brothers, washed down with a glass of No. 1 Family Estate Cuvee.

Also on the Decadence menu, Andiamo’s Southland lamb meatballs, preserved lemon, kale and parmesan, and at the Collab Kitchen, truffle dumplings with parsley puree, mushroom custard and cured yolk from Nick Honeyman, wild shot venison short ribs with sticky foraged Wanaka sumac glaze from Lucas Parkinson, and fried potato focaccia, clams and fennel pollen from Hayden McMillan.

To complement all those delicious eats, an impressive line-up of local acts includes Laughton Kora on opening night, a DJ set from Peter Urlich on the Friday night – something Eliott says has become part of the Taste experience for many regular festival fans – and the ten piece Mister Speaker band on the Saturday night. Under a 200 sqm marquee this year, you’ll be covered no matter the weather.

Shop for that something special in the Artisan Marketplace, with delicious offerings from more than 80 gourmet producers from around the country including tasty treats from Appleby Farms Icecream, La Petite Chocolate and Petal Cupcakes, divine drinks from Blush Gin, Lone Bee Mead and Kavalan Whisky, and sensational seasonings from Taipa Salt Pig, Waiheke Herbs and Aromatics.

Sample top drops from some of the country’s leading wineries including Nautilus Estate, Mount Michael, Yealands, Black Barn, Palliser Estate, Mount Beautiful, Gibbston Valley and Villa Maria, and enjoy beer tastings from top craft breweries including Fortune Favours, New New New and Liberty Brewing (fresh from their award-winning run at the 2019 NZ Brewers Guild Awards).

New experiences at the festival include a Hotel Grand Windsor High Tea, a Curiosity Gin Botanical Garden, a 9K International’s Speakeasy Whisky Lounge and a Schweppes pop-up bar. And don’t forget to check out the new MINI Countryman – Taste’s official vehicle partner, treating you to an exhilarating time in the Decadence Collective.

As part of opening night celebrations, each Taste restaurant will vie for the coveted ‘Best in Taste’ award to be announced on the Thursday evening. The awards will be judged by culinary authorities Marco Pierre White, Chand Sahrawat, Amanda Linnell and Clooney’s Tony Stewart.

Three awards are presented to the most exceptional dishes served at the festival that live up to the values and experience offered at the actual restaurant, with last year’s top award taken out by Xoong and chef Cameron Knox with his Ruakaka kingfish tartare with smoked pepper mayo and wasabi tobiko.

Did you know that at the start of last century the Hauraki Gulf was full of mussel beds? Unfortunately these beds were almost completely wiped out through commercial dredging, but Revive Our Gulf aims to replant mussel beds in the Gulf. Taste is getting behind this great initiative and every Crown Card recycled at the event will see $1 donated to the cause. Supporters will also be taking donations.

As an added bonus, the world’s 4th largest cruise ship Ovation of the Seas will be in the harbour visible from Taste’s Ocean Terrace on the Saturday afternoon, while the Saturday evening session will finish at 9.30pm, just in time to move into the city for the Rugby World Cup Final at 10pm.

Tickets are available online from $25 for GA, $65 for Premium and $95 for VIP, with gate sales starting from $32. Group packages are also on offer with discounts on tickets for five and 10 plus.

Taste of Auckland, Thursday 31 October to Sunday 3 November 2019

Shed 10, The Cloud and Queen’s Wharf, Auckland

Tickets available on the door from $25 See www.tasteofauckland.co.nz

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