More than 19,000 people attended Gourmet Escape on the weekend with 50 celebrity chefs and side events taking over the region.
Headliner Curtis Stone said he had a brilliant time and it was awesome to go back to where Surfing the Menu began 14 years ago.
“It’s a really special part of the world. The produce, the wineries, the weather, the people, and the beach barbecue was crazy fun,” he said.
Castle Rock provided a spectacular backdrop for the Gourmet Beach Barbecue with several events taking place from Thursday to Sunday.
This year, five chefs were behind the grill to feed guests from around the globe including Australia’s Curtis Stone, Rick Stein, Peter Kuruvita, Josh Niland and Shane Delia.
Showcasing some of the WA’s best produce, the Gourmet Escape side event served up 30 kilograms of Manjimup marrons, 30 kilograms of Shark Bay cuttlefish and 30 kilograms of local crays.
Guests were also treated to 50 kilograms of Shark Bay prawns, 100 kilograms Arkady lamb shoulder and 100 kilograms of Merguz beef sausages.
Gourmet Escape event director Katrina King said this year’s event was huge with the festival adding an extra day with events taking place on land, sea and air.
Ms King said combined with the 50th anniversary of the Margaret River wine region there was plenty to celebrate.
“Our visiting chefs have been singing the region’s praises, loving the quality of the produce, the fresh air and coastline and the friendly locals,” she said.
“Massive thanks to the efforts of all the local producers and their teams who have worked tirelessly across the week to make it so memorable. We can’t wait to do it again next year.”
Busselton based chef Paul Iskov from Fervour said throughout Gourmet Escape so many amazing people came to the region.
“It is a really good vibe and the local people are quite proud to show off what we have down here,” he said.
Iskov said the event was recognised around the world and it was the best food event in Australia, providing an opportunity to showcase local produce.
He said Gourmet Escape also had flow on effects for people who ran businesses or had accommodation places in the region.
“Then there are all these hidden places in the region that people don’t know about,” he said.
“When an event like this comes, all these things pop up, it is just great.”
Dunsborough’s Food by the Chef George Cooper made this third appearance at Gourmet Escape this year and said it was amazing to have the chance to work with world-acclaimed chefs.
“You are mixing with chefs on the world food scene, most of these guys run the best restaurants in the world, as for my profile I’m taken more seriously,” he said.
Cooper said it was a two-way street where local chefs had an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best, and in turn the world’s best could learn from local chefs.
“Gourmet Escape brings so much tourism to the region and so much food tourism,” he said.
Since arriving in the region in 2012, Cooper said the food scene had come a long way with chefs in the region using local produce rather than having it sent down from Perth.
“Gourmet Escape has made the region lift its game and with that new and exciting chefs are trying to make a name for Margaret River’s food,” he said.
“It is really important we keep Gourmet Escape in Margaret River, especially for tourism and what it brings to the region.
“You cannot put a price on how much revenue it brings to the region.”
Tourism WA chairman Nathan Harding said, while he was not at liberty to disclose the outcomes of talks with the event holder, a positive government announcement was expected on the event’s future.
It is expected that the state government will make an announcement on the event later this week.
Have your say: Did you get along to Gourmet Escape? What did you think about this year’s event? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.