Taste of Perth is one of our city’s most exciting events, hosted annually down at Langley Park where it’s nestled between a picturesque view of the Perth skyline and the Swan River. It brings together some of our state’s highly esteemed restaurants who all curate a four dish menu offering a “taste” of what you can find inside their venue normally.
Beyond this there’s also a great smattering of local producers and companies such as Custard & Co, XO Tea, Kent Street Deli and more. Lots of options to try, and new products to sample. It’s a great exercise for food or beverage based companies to get involved in to generate new awareness and customers for their products.
As the days counted down to Taste of Perth’s launch, I found myself excited to attend at least a couple of the five sessions (lunch and dinner) that ran from Friday 29 April to Sunday 1 May.
After heading in to Taste of Perth in previous years (2014 and 2015), I was pleased to receive an invitation to head in on the Friday lunch for Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets with Hadleigh Troy, a cooking class with the famed chef of Restaurant Amuse. While this alone was enough to be excited about (plus some pottering around enjoying different event dishes), I was also invited to be one of the judges for the Best of Taste Awards this year with Max Veenhuyzen and Rob Broadfield, which the winners would be announced at the Taste of Perth gala later that night. Suffice to say, it was a jam-packed Friday for this girl.
While in previous years at Taste of Perth I’ve feasted away and spent some time watching live demonstrations by chefs, it was really great to actually take part in a more intimate setting class – which was a new feature for this year’s festival.
As much as I love eating, I really enjoy cooking too and seek out tips wherever possible. When I learned that Hadleigh would be teaching us how to make a marron pannacotta I think my eyes just about jumped out of my head! Delicious, delicate West Australian crustacean is a treat in itself but I have to say I love savoury pannacotta even more than sweet, so I was ready to soak in all that knowledge.
Utilising the entire marron in different elements, it was really energising to get our hands dirty, diving in to assist with alternative parts of the preparation. And best of all, when we were finished plating up it was time to eat! A plate called simply marron, carrot and avocado – it was fresh, zingy and just plain tasty. I am definitely going to try making this for myself sometime, it’s a dish that impresses.
After the cooking class finished, I had enough time to walk off my meal and check out some of the stalls before needing to head over to meet the others for judging. This was my first time ever judging a cooking competition so I was feeling equal parts privileged to be considered, and nervous as to whether I could keep up with the professionals!
The Best of Taste awards see the restaurants involved in Taste of Perth each submitting a single dish from their menu for judging. While some chose their “signature dish”, others found strength in other offerings.
The dishes we tasted for judging were:
- Asado’s tripe with house sausage, frijoles, salsa cayenna and chorizo crumb ($12.00)
- Print Hall’s potato gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, chévre and almonds ($10.00)
- Silk’s wok fried king prawns with honey lime glaze and crispy red rice ($18.00)
- Bistro Guillaume’s baby octopus and chorizo with espelette aioli ($10.00)
- Nobu’s crispy soft shell crab with watermelon and amazu ponzu ($10.00)
- Lucky Chan’s braised beef shin massaman curry with coconut rice, fried egg, lychees, green paw paw, tomato herb salad and Nam jim dressing ($12.00)
- Manuka’s wood roasted chicken with pickled red cabbage and miso sauce ($10.00)
- Shorehouse’s chocolate fondant with ganache, cookies & cream and caramel sauce ($6.00)
- Bib & Tucker’s roasted Fremantle octopus with ink cracker, beetroot skordalia and kohlrabi ($12.00)
The judging process is actually quite an interesting one as there’s a lot to consider. Taste, texture, the evolution from a restaurant dish to a festival one – and more. I soon learned that I needed to eat only a portion of each plate as I was starting to get full pretty quick (I just hate wasting food!).
But by the end of the tastings, it was clear amongst us all who the standout winners were. And it felt great to see the happy chefs claim their prizes later that night! The awards went to:
- Best of Taste – Manuka
- Runner Up – Shorehouse
- Second Runner Up – Bib & Tucker
- Best Dressed Restaurant – Lucky Chan’s
As you can imagine, I was pretty much stuffed to the brim by the time the gala was finished (I may have had a few sneaky West Winds gins and some canapés during that time) so it was off home for me – exhausted from a double Taste of Perth hit, and happy from a belly full of food.
While I was feeling like I’d given Taste of Perth a very decent crack on the Friday, I decided to join my friends from The Hummus Club and Marcelita’s Empanadas for a food squad outing during the Saturday lunch session.
We found ourselves feasting on way too much food (as you would expect!), but my favourites that day were definitely the fresh oysters from Print Hall (though not quite a festival dish in my opinion, they’re always something that appeals to me) and Shorehouse’s blue swimmer crab linguine with prawns, tomato, chilli, garlic and pangrattato. Washed down with a mulled cider from Custard & Co, it was a wonderful day exploring parts of the festival I’d missed the day before.
Manuka’s fig and apple crumble also deserves a special shoutout, with it’s soft gooey centre and cinnamon hit. Just the thing to warm my bones amid the shockingly cold wafts of air that emerged every now and then.
And of course, no good food outing is complete without some take home goodies. My favourites for this year… Bib & Tucker’s roof top honey (yes you can taste the salty beach air in each sweet bite) and XO Tea’s casablanca mix. Just the thing to enjoy on the Sunday morning with my breakfast of pancakes. Mmm!
Did you make it down to Taste of Perth this year? If so, what was your favourite part? I’m still dreaming about that wood fired chicken from Manuka which I know I’ll keep going back for time and time again. A big thanks to IMG and Electrolux for their hospitality in looking after me during my sessions there.