Wednesday, 25 March 2009

And yet another question for you, best beloved....

Following on from, and capitalizing on, the popularity of the recent questions posed here, I am adding another question for general discussion today, and welcome all thoughts on the subject.

I presume all would be familiar with the Savour Tasmania series of three, well four actually, international chefs coming to Tasmania in May to cook for an evening at three premier restaurant venues – Meadowbank, Henry Jones and Marque IV?

My question to all – do you consider this series of foodie events, plus the ‘grand final’ dinner (at H Jones) at the completion of the three previous dinners, something you applaud as a productive, innovative and forward-thinking concept promoting Tasmanian products, and Tasmania, as a valued and much-vaunted foodie destination?

Or do you think these are a series of dinners for elitist foodie wankers?

Posted on by Rita


hrv said...

If they booked out in 48 hours, then we must have either a lot more foodie wankers than I thought, or (as I suspect) Hobartians have embraced a concept that is new and novel to them.

Being an 'interloper' from the N.W. I have always looked at Hobart a a place with two disticnt views - locals love the new and exciting, but always return to the old tried and tested. This probably a connection with why so many places have opened, burned brightly and fizzled out quietly since I have lived here.

I will agree with Steve that I do find it dissapointing that we have not looked at some local 'heros' to fill these spots but I can understand the Governments desire to pull off a show. What could have been done is using expats who have gone and achieved - homegrown boys and girls who went out into the big scary world and gained great success. There are more than you think too -

Alistair Wise - G. Ramsay's London
Andrew Wise - Botanical
Marcus Allen - Interlude and some great English Restaurants
Chris Brumby - Britain's Gastropub Chef of the Year 2007
Nicole Mizzen - Westin, The Graham and Botanical (Pastry Chef)

And the list goes on. Maybe not the stars of the show, but certainly the one's working hard behind the scenes (and in many cases the one's making the boss look good).

Rita, as far a concept to promote Tasmania, why is it being held here? Do we as locals need to pay large sums for good chefs to come and show us our own food. I see no promotional benefit.

I travel a couple of times a year cooking our produce to interstate audiences / dinners and this has a great response. Surely to get mileage from this the reverse would make sense?

Bringing guest chefs down to Tasmania is great as it helps us broaden our knowledge and skill base, but surely we too have something to offer. I have been invited to travel twice interstate and once overseas this year to cook for organisations who want to see Tasmanian produce by a Tasmanian chef. I enjoy the challenge and see the benefits.

So come on Mr. Bartlet, let's take Mohammad to the mountain.

B said...

I would have loved to go to one of the dinners, and I don't see myself as an elitist foodie wanker. I just love cooking and am a massive fan of Tetsuya.

I wish there were more events on as part of the program, that were more accessible to the general public. e.g. as part of the Melb food and wine festival they had the restaurant express lunch thing (link). Why couldn't we do something like this?

Stephen said...

I wasn't aware of the event, but the concept does seem a bit malformed.

If the intention is to promote Tassie produce, then why hold it in Tassie rather than in Syd or Mel? (Then again, maybe the invitees are 'mainlanders' in the trade? That would make sense).

If its intended to promote Hobart restaurants, then why use imported chefs?

Stephen said...

As an aside, Henry Jones restaurant has always impressed me. I don't expect excellent food at a hotel based restaurant, so HJ really surprises.

steve said...

I dont want to rain on the parade but...
Splashing out on a big extrvaganza of special dinners & masterclasses in order to promote the states food seems like a short term plan to me.
The country's calander is clogged already with food events & this will have to compete with them.
It also seems that the target audience who are likely to subscribe to its lure are already converts, so who is this initiative actually trying to engage?
Tasmania's artisinal producers carry an unreal expectation that they are the great white hope for the future. What many fail to recognize is that they are successful because they are small. Opening them up to larger markets abroad & on the mainland also waters down their appeal & in some cases changes the product entirely.
Perhaps a more long term & strategic approach is to copy the Agrarian Kitchens business model. We could tie-in with Stephanies kitchen garden scheme & have several farm to cooking school ventures dotted around the state. All that party dosh could be put toward a really exciting culinary school of excellence that all Tasmanians could be proud.

Stephen said...

Agree entirely Steve - that's a great idea.

B said...

I don't think the ST festival is trying to make itself out to be exactly a "a productive, innovative and forward-thinking concept promoting Tasmanian products, and Tasmania, as a valued and much-vaunted foodie destination"

The website says "Savour Tasmania, an epicurean festival showcasing the highest quality Tasmanian produce... a memorable four days of the finest degustations"

So although wankers isn't the word I'd use, it probably is quite correctly described as 'a series of dinners for elitist foodie wankers'. Even their press releases say that it's purely for showcasing.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

steve said...

B, to be clear & i know that you didn't infer this, but I didn't use nor do I associate the word wanker with people who are interested in food.
Yes it is an event purely for showcasing I agree, but whats the end game here? Attracting interest & perhaps investment in our agri & tourism businesses, forging new markets overseas & positioning ourselves as a haven of ge free, clean & green food in the worls market. Nothing wrong with that either, but to suggest that its just a series of promo dinners is frankly being naive, there a whole lot more at stake here.

Thats why I suggested that we should go about it another way, the long hard way actually & the way that there might be any votes in it cause its not a quick flashy fix for an opportunity to showcase our produce. Produce that many of us have understood its potential & currency & that only until relatively late in the game, our powers that be are waking up to.

steve said...

Oh I forgot to add: This is from the website.

"Tasmanian chefs are the luckiest of chefs as they have easy access to the finest produce in the country and are spoilt for choice. In recent times the restaurant scene in Tasmania has blossomed into a thriving industry attracting foodies from around the world eager to sample the wealth of flavours in Tasmania's unique fare. Local chefs are taking their reverence for the local produce to a new level and are creating menus focused on regional produce from their own area. Such is the diversity and abundance of produce in Tasmania and its potential to be food bowl to the world"

I'm not sure who wrote that but my guess is that there would be a lot of people who would disagree with this assessment of the dining scene here in Tassie.

Anonymous said...

I think you are forgetting about the networking side of this event,
we are OPENING UP the state to the world stage,we have to start thinking BIG, just look at the Melbourne food festival, Noosa Food and Wine festival, Adelaide are constantly promoting etc, etc.
Lastly, let us not forget that along with these dinners, comes a list of workshops that are aimed at the training side of the industry.

steve said...

I'm sorry to sound negative, I dont mean to be, I actually think its a great initiative shrugging off my earler ill informed opinion however i stll maintain that this might not & I reiterate, might not be the best way to showcase the states bounty.
last anon mentioned all those very successful food festivals. It would good to have some data on this but I would guess that the same foodies are subscribing to all of them & yet another one could have the effect of making all of them less viable.

Another point to consider is that in order to attrcat the patrons of this event we would have to secure the talents of even bigger drawcards for the next one in order to retain interest with say getting Thomas Keller or Blumenthal over here.
Thats fine but it could be a difficult sell to convince the Tasmanian taxpayers to foot the bill to secure a mega chef to cook for a selected few.

sir grumpy said...

I won't be going. Am I sad? Hang on I'll
We will never have our own cuisine like the frogs or italians but just a copy of one.
Doesn't worry me. There are no new cuisines. Crikey, even a new veggie would be something to work on!
Those classic cuisines were built on a whole nation tucking in, led (yes) by their chefs to a certain degree.
But basically just people en masse having to cook their own.
But for those who love these events, go for it, lap it up and enjoy. I hate fine dining now.
Stephanie's kitchen-garden scheme. No thanks, Steve. Sick of her and her mates. Have you seen the shit Maggie Beer and her offsider are cooking on the Wednesday ABC show?
Who eats this stuff? Nobody.
So I hope this locak event is a HUGE success for those who love it all .... for those of us who are either past fine dining (me) or not interested at all, it doesn't really matter.
Like the movies. Just go to the ones you like.

Anonymous said...

Sir Grumpy, have you tried anti depressants? I know I will be after reading your comments.

sir grumpy said...

I'm happy as Larry, Anon. Is it cos I is not agreeing with you?
Don't you love freedom of speech.
Works for anons until someone has their own thoughts.
Let the bigger person in you emerge mate.

hrv said...

Anon - have you seen the workshops?

Fast Ed and Lyndy Milan really don't cut it for me. I will be going to see Rodney's however.

The uber chefs aren't presenting anything bar the dinners.

B said...

Steve, I do agree with all your comments in response to mine. What I was describing is how I see the events as they currently stand.
It would be brilliant if it had ended up being so much more than it is.

I was just really answering Rita's question directly, which of the two choices she offered do I see this as being.

If they plan this to continue in future years, we can all hope that 'Savour Tasmania' grows into something even better.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what proportion of the guests are locals and how many people will travel from interstate/overseas just to attend the dinners?

ie. has Savour Tasmania achieved what it intended?

Anonymous said...

Actually HRV-the uber chefs ARE doing more than just dinners, its just not common public knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I think Ed & Linley are great 'everyperson' communicaters but they aren't foodie heavyweights thats for sure.
Mr g, I agree about maggie & simon, not a fan. As to Stephanie & 'her mates' what do you mean, the woman is a national treasure!

sir grumpy said...

Just the foodie establishment in Oz in general, Anon.
Yes, Steph's done her bit but I get fed up with Melbourne-Sydney centric views of food and their press always feature the same mob over and over.
Yes, I take it back for Stephanie. I suppose it's like having a bad word to say about Margaret Fulton (you can't!) Or Skippy!

sir grumpy said...

In case our local top chefs think I'm a turd for saying fine-dining doesn't do it for me....
It's not that I don't appreciate it or their skill and dedication but I'm too past it for the big nights. But I'd eat their grub if it was plonked in front of me, that's for sure. (Who cares?)
Well, I say that because I'm coming to my point....
Wouldn't it be great to have all these bigwigs put on a mass demo and feed using Tassie's best grub.
No, not the Taste...but a Savour (Saviour?) for the Masses.
Keep it more casual and show off what we got and what we can do with it. (Careful!)
And drum into work all our other fine food people and young up-and-comers to assist.
That way the word spreads even further.

Susannah said...

Hey, even elitist foodie wankers need to eat!

I am not particularly interested, but obviously quite a lot of people are.

I like the special occasion dining experience, but i also like to think that good food should be a regular (daily) experience. Savour Tasmania will probably embrace ingredients and cooking styles that would be unsustainable for more than special events, due to cost and energy content of the food. Don't get me wrong - I love rich food, but if I ate it every day I would be the size of a house in no time, and soon drown in cholesterol.

The headline events, and special menus, can be a great showcase. We also need to get the message across that Tasmania's good food can be an every day experience. Fresh pink eyes in summer are an everyday delicacy. New season's apples are a delight. Good bread dipped in peppery green tasmanian olive oil. A pinch of tasmanian saffron elevates a simple rissotto into something quite sublime. The list goes on.....and all of it can be healthy, affordable, and (most importantly) an absolute delight to the senses.

So the elitist foodie wankers are welcome to their special events, and the remaining non-elitist foodie wankers will just keep on enjoying lovely tasmanian food.

Anonymous said...

fyi - the objectives of Savour Tasmania are to

 To promote Tasmania as a supplier of a diverse range of premium food and beverage products to visiting chefs, food and beverage media and the Australian public

 To promote Tasmania as a destination for innovative food and wine lifestyle experiences

 To provide professional development opportunities for Drysdale hospitality students and employees within the local hospitality industry

 To reinforce the hospitality industry as a serious career aspiration

 To create greater commercial opportunities for Tasmanian food and beverage suppliers

 To develop positive perceptions of Tasmania through the involvement of three international renowned chefs.

 To deliver a high calibre inaugural event as a foundation for future annual events to be held in February when weather is conducive to state-wide activities in unique locations.

B said...

"To deliver a high calibre inaugural event as a foundation for future annual events to be held in February when weather is conducive to state-wide activities in unique locations."

ooh I like the sound of that

Anonymous said...

Well, do we think it has been worth the big tax payer funded event so far?

Anonymous said...

If Im a middle aged matron I certainly do