As the weather warms up in October, South Australia’s Riverland leaps into spring with a weekend of local food, wine and fun at the Riverland Wine & Food Festival. The Main Event at the Berri Resort Hotel, on Saturday 15 October, promises to be something very special indeed. With the stunning Murray River as the backdrop, you couldn’t ask for a better venue to celebrate and appreciate the offerings from an area which has been a significant food bowl for South Australia for many years. Offering live music, wine from some of the regions premium wineries and a selection of food stalls, showcasing the local produce of the area, in a fabulous riverside setting, the Main Event is exactly the excuse I’ve needed to get myself to yet another remarkable food and wine region within a few hours drive of Adelaide.
Of course there are plenty of other attractions on the weekend with the Riverland Farmers Market on Saturday morning, your chance to be a winemaker for a day, more food, wine and music at some of the regions noted wineries on Sunday and a dedicated Wine Down event at Wilkadene Station’s microbrewery from 11-5 on Sunday. However, I think everyone should know about the premier five course dinner on Thursday 13 October, Nippy’s Chefs of the Murray dinner.
In its sixth successful year, the actual Chefs of the Murray dinner is the culmination of a mentoring project which aims to raise the profile of the regional food and wine products while at the same time offering a remarkable opportunity to qualified local chefs, apprentice chefs and hospitality students. Each year one of South Australia’s top chefs is contracted to come to the Riverland for a week to work with the locals to present the dinner.
- This year the visiting chef is Ayhan Erkoc of Adelaide’s award-winning restaurant Celsius and during the week he will have three distinct priorities. The first Monday Ayhan spends with any local chefs who can be released from their stoves for the day. The goal here is for the contracted chef to share his talents and expertise, thus importing current skills and techniques into the region for use in the local commercial kitchens. For the rest of the week Ayhan will work with local apprenticed chefs and students from the TAFE course in Commercial Cookery. Under Ayhan’s tutelage, these students will learn the skills necessary to prepare and cook the meal for the guests at the dinner. At the same time students from the TAFE food and alcohol service and hospitality courses will be trained to serve the dinner and beverages on the night of the dinner.
There is a degree of poetry surrounding Ayhan Erkoc’s involvement in this year’s dinner. No stranger to the river, Ayhan is a Murray Bridge boy who began his culinary career under the eye of Gary Webb at the Berri Hotel. The same Gary Webb is now responsible for many of the TAFE hospitality students who will be trained by Ayhan next week as he returns to contribute to the region that gave him his start. Over the years the region has benefited from the exceptional talents of chefs like Andrew Fielke, Mark McNamara (of Appellation) and Camillo Crugnale (of Assagio), two of whom have now employed apprentices from the pool of Riverland students they were mentoring. Funded by Food Riverland and SA Works, this project showcases the brilliant regional food and wine of the Riverland, while at the same time offering an extraordinary learning opportunity for local qualified chefs and local students training in food and alcohol related areas. The dinner is generally a sell out, so if you fancy a taste of fresh premier produce and a look at the future of Riverland cuisine let me suggest you book quickly and online here.
Full details for the Riverland Wine & Food Festival here.[mc4wp_form id="16750"]