I took Friday off work as a flex day to attend my first ever Good Food and Wine Show after pre-ordering my tickets at ticketek the day before. I got there around 9.45am since I knew that even though I had booked my 10.30 show with celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue I still needed to line up at the box office once inside to book tickets to the other celebrity chefs. Stupid method I think, but that’s how they set it up.
The line to get in to the show was so long it seemed to queue all the way down to the other end of the convention centre. When I finally reached the front of the line they decided to close the doors I was in front of because of all the people milling around the merchandise stand at the door to get their free luv-a-duck pack. So I go maneuver my way to the door beside me only to have the lady take my ticketek ticket and not give it back. This was a mistake I could sense but by the time I turned around to get it back she had thrown it in the bin and I was swamped by people. So I said sod that and headed off for the box office intent on getting the shows I wanted to see.
Thankfully the line at the box office hadn’t gotten very long but it was while I was waiting in line that I realised the ticketek ticket loss could be a huge mistake. By the time I got to the front of the line I had my story ready and the lady kindly gave me another ticket to Ben’s show and also entry to Matt Moran and Toby Puttock – the two shows next in order after Ben. Phew I thought, until I realised that my ticketek ticket had been a preallocated seat and now I was right at the back. I fumed in my seat for quite some time about how bad the whole entrance experience was and it probably wasn’t until Ben came on that I eventually chilled out.
Ben’s theme for the show was BBQ’s so after he had put his BBQ Jerk Pork on the barbie he pulled out the cricket set and got some of the audience to play while he cooked. He also gave some guys a beer and got them to stand around the bbq talking as is typical in a normal aussie bbq. Some of the ladies playing cricket hit some sixes which almost came back to my seat which the audience loved. The food smelt great and I marveled at how he could do all that under such pressure. After the show Ben was outside signing autographs but I didn’t wasn’t in the mood for chatting and I didn’t want to buy the surfing the menu book.
I wandered around killing time for 20 minutes waiting for the next show to start so I tasted some excellent Lillydale organic chicken and some Frangelico with ginger beer which definitely helped me relax. I had a closer seat to see Matt Moran who is the chef at Aria in Sydney which is quite expensive judging from all the digs the other chefs gave him throughout the day. He had his head chef Ben with him which was a smart idea because it allowed Matt to do more explanation about the food in a teaching type role. He showed us how to cut and clean squid and also played pin the meat on the cow to see if people knew where the sirloin is on a cow. He also revealed his feud with magazine writer Donna Hay. She dissed his book in some magazine, she emailed and said she was misquoted and hadn’t even read his book, he noticed a few months later that his recipe for raspberry tart was in her book so he wrote back and said he noticed she’d now read it. It was a great piece of gossip to hear about. Matt was probably the only chef there who gave off the aura of being a true head chef even though all the others I saw also operate or have operated in that role too. Maybe it was the white chef’s jacket or maybe it was the amount of time he spends with Gordon Ramsay since they are great mates.
Toby Puttock from Melbourne’s Fifteen restaurant seemed a little on edge and angry during his show. When asking for volunteers a lady pushed her way up claiming she was good at tying up meat but when it came to do it she was shit and Toby ended up doing it all. He seemed a little pissed about that. It was more fun when a 14 year old boy who was on a school excursion came up and floundered around the stage trying to whisk things. Toby made some underhanded comments referring to masturbation and such which was really well done and you’d have to be quick otherwise you’d miss it. I decided to leave at that point because I wanted to make the liquid kitchen cocktail show.
Hayden Wood has written many books about cocktail making and he is absolutely qualified for that judging by his performance at the show. He tends bar with all the flair that made Tom Cruise famous in cocktail but is much funnier than Tom. The music was pumping the crowd was clapping and for a little while it did feel like we were in the coolest nightclub in Brisbane. Thanks to my not so recent love of cocktails I was immediately sucked in and ended up buying his book. The ultimate part of the show was when he poured a pyramid of maybe 15 cocktails in less than 5 minutes. That guy is talented.
After that I managed to get a ticket to Curtis Stone’s show in the unallocated section just by asking (you are limited to three shows but I guess they are willing to fill it up). While I waited I decided to kill some more time walking around the wine section and made it just in time for some wine tasting in the Reidel Theatre. There were all these long benches with 6 glasses of wine there alll ready for tasting so I just walked in and sat down. The wines were all from Mclarenvale in South Australia and I enjoyed the Viognier and Rose and it was great listening to them describe the wine because it builds up your language. I’m never going to be the greatest wine drinker ever but at least now I know what they mean when they talk about oak.
Feeling a bit wasted I headed back to the theatre to watch Curtis. He is well known over here for surfing the menu and My Restaurant Rules but he has just gotten huge in America doing the show “Take Home Chef” which is a similar idea to the one over here where he rocks up to someone in a supermarket and then takes their trolley home and cooks for them. Curtis is big with the ladies apparently so there was a lot of young girls at his show – especially americans. His theme was cooking for families, friends and lovers and it was the lovers part that was the best. He got some couples from the audience, a guy and a girl, a husband and wife, and two guys who claimed they were gay. He then created three types of flavoured chocolate and got them to taste it by kissing. I’ll let you watch the video to see what happened.
After the show I went and bought a Curtis Stone showbag which was as well designed as all the products he sells. It’s a shame some of them are so expensive as they are high quality products. I stood in line to get the book signed and I was lined up behind two canadian girls. They asked me to take a photo for them when it was their turn so I made the usual “quick run” joke that is required whenever a tourist gives away their camera. They thought that was funny but looked at me a bit scared after that. 😉 When it came time for their photo Curtis stood beside one so I remonstrated him and told him to get in the middle which invoked sniggers behind me. The girls thanked him and me and then I apologised for being so bossy as he signed the book. He said he didn’t mind anyone telling him to get between two beautiful girls which was wittier than what it sounds like now. I was impressed by him after being not so sure at the start of the show.
I finished the day by wandering around tasting everything and didn’t really want to go in the end. It had been a great day seeing lots of cooking, getting drunk and eating food. I am absolutely going again next year and next time it won’t be by myself. I have never spent so long at a show at the convention centre which is proof that it was great!