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April 27, 2023

Service, please: Tasting Australia is ready for consumption

When Tasting Australia opens on Friday, there will be plenty of fresh temptations on the menu, says festival co-director Darren Robertson.

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  • Above: Enjoy an off-grid culinary adventure on Flinders Island or with Tasting Australia Airlines
  • This article was produced in collaboration with Tasting Australia

Tasting Australia presented by RAA Travel kicks off tomorrow across Adelaide and regional South Australia, with more than 150 culinary events in all 12 regions of the state – including the return of the CBD festival hub Town Square, in Tarntanyangga Victoria Square.

Darren Robertson, who is co-directing this year’s festival with Karena Armstrong, feels the weight of the challenge.


Tasting Australia
28 April–7 May
Multiple locations across SA
For tickets and more information, visit the website.

“There’s the scale of the festival itself and it’s got such an incredible reputation – there’s such a huge sense of responsibility,” he says.

He is expecting the celebration to be bigger than ever after “a huge burst of excitement last year that just hasn’t stopped”.

“Proper food events are back!” he says.

This year’s program includes the new Chef’s Table series, taking place in The Dining Room, presented by White Marquee in Town Square.

“It’s important to us that we keep creating new events to keep it fresh and exciting,” Darren says.

“The Chef’s Table is a small, boutique restaurant experience. It’s like going to the chef’s house and having them cook for you.

“It’s a table of only 20, in a really intimate space, so they can share food, wines and stories throughout the evening.”

The participating chefs have delivered some of Australia’s and the world’s best restaurants: Paul Carmichael and Kylie Javier Ashton of Momofuku Seiobo; James Lowe of The Fat Duck; Justin James of noma, Vue de monde and now Restaurant Botanic; our own Simon Bryant of The Hilton Adelaide’s Grange Restaurant during Cheong Liew’s tenure; Luke Burgess of Garagistes and A.I.R. Myoko; and Jung Eun Chae of Cutler & Co and her eponymous restaurant run from her home.

Christine Manfield of East@West and Universal will unite with Indigenous-food business owner and author Rebecca Sullivan for the Bush Table. Festival co-director Darren, of Tetsuya’s, Three Blue Ducks and Rocker fame, will deliver his Chef’s Table with Big Sam Young of S’More.

This is Darren and Karena’s second year at the helm of Australia’s longest-running eating and drinking festival. The duo followed on from Simon Bryant, who directed it for eight years.

Coming from the UK, Darren says he brings “a slightly different perspective” to deliver “what’s interesting in food globally as well as on our shores”.

Town Square, which is free to enter and will be open every day of the festival, will feature an eclectic offering of food from local vendors, including some newcomers to Tasting Australia.

The lineup comprises Kuti Shack, Chefs on Wheels, Peel St Restaurant, Filipino Project, CARŌclub, Crepe Bar, Victoria Park Social Club, One Sneaky Cheetah, Hubba Hubba Hummus, Taco Cartel, Phat Head, Boston Bay Smallgoods X Smokin’ Grillers, Shibui, Dawn Patrol Coffee and Lukoumades.

There will also be seven bars, featuring cocktails, wine, beer and spirits, alongside no- and low-alcohol drinks.

Opening day on Friday will feature an early celebration of International Viognier Day, with Tasting Australia premier wine partner Yalumba offering the first 100 people who purchase a dish from a participating food vendor a free glass of Viognier from the Yalumba bar in Town Square.

Away from Town Square, events will feature across the state, including Tasting Australia Airlines journeys to Kangaroo Island and Flinders Ranges, a long lunch at Maxwell Wines with international chef and food writer Gill Meller, and an off-grid culinary adventure to Flinders Island in the Eyre Peninsula.

Darren’s positive memories from his time as a guest chef at Tasting Australia are something he wants to ensure for the visiting talent and patrons.

“It was such a beautiful experience, not only to cook at, but to experience Adelaide and the many regions,” he says.

“All chefs know that South Australia has incredible produce, food and wine. That’s something I’m really proud to promote.”

Tasting Australia’s Town Square will be open 11am ’til midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am ’til 9pm Sunday through Thursday.

Town Square patrons can have their dishes served on a take-home, enamel Tasting Australia plate for $1, with all proceeds donated to the State Emergency Relief Fund to help South Australians impacted by the River Murray floods.

For more information on Town Square and to purchase a ticket to any of Tasting Australia’s events, visit the website.

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