Five delicious reasons to fly north for the winter

Travelling Well | Necia Wilden | Posted on 24 June 2019

Eat your way around the hottest new food festival on Queensland's culinary calendar.

Here’s a quick quiz. Where on the Sunshine Coast would you expect to find great beaches, a chic shopping precinct, a progressive dining scene and a celebrity chef-studded annual food and wine festival?

If you answered “Noosa”, you’re only half right. But hey, it was a trick question.

The fact is that beyond Hastings Street lies a region hiding in plain sight. It’s ‘the rest of the Sunshine Coast’; 1600 square kilometres of beaches, marine park, farmland and hinterland that most of us, when planning our Queensland getaway, tend to overlook.

Plate of beef salad

Beef salad.

Not for much longer, perhaps. The Curated Plate (8 to 11 August) is the region’s first annual culinary festival, aimed at raising the profile of an emerging food and dining culture with its own discrete identity. Less glitz, more grassroots. Less a party on the beach, more about celebrating the dynamic connections between producers and chefs.

“Outside of Noosa, the Sunny Coast hasn’t attracted a lot of foodie travel,” says The Curated Plate’s event director, Venessa Cowell. “Which is crazy, when you go there and realise how much it has to offer.”

The international talent at the festival is there for a reason, says Venessa of “the big three” heading to the coast in August: Tokyo’s genre-busting Zaiyu Hasegawa, of World’s 50 Best List high-flier Den; elder statesman Raymond Blanc, of England’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons; and foraging champion Monique Fiso, of Wellington’s Hiakai.

“We wanted to invite chefs who could see the produce with fresh eyes, who could bring something different to the table,” she says. Joining them will be a rollcall of home-grown heroes led by Peter Gilmore of Sydney’s Quay and Analiese Gregory of Franklin in Hobart.

The other big drawcard of The Curated Plate? It’s a road trip, a scenic tour of multiple culinary destinations. Here’s a sample itinerary built around five events, travelling from the sea to the hills and back again, with maybe a detour to go shopping at the newly renovated Mooloolaba Wharf.

Bowl of rare beef salas served against green backgrop

Keep it fresh with venison salad. 

Gourmet popcorn and salted caramel ice cream dessert

You won't want to share this pretty popcorn dessert.

Fine dining salad with micro herbs and blackberries

It's easy been green when your veggies look this good. 

Five delicious reasons to fly north for the winter

Thursday 8 August

Caloundra Jetski’s Seafood Safari

It’s the aquatic equivalent of a motorbike ride on the open road – but with better food.  It’s a ‘seafood safari’, an exhilarating 51-kilometre jetski journey from Caloundra to Bribie Island’s Sandstone Point, where an alfresco lunch of hyper-local seafood awaits at a table nudging the marina. Then it’s back on the water for the return trip down the Pumicestone Passage, home to turtles, dugongs, dolphins and more than 300 bird species. Fun bonus: the slalom ride through the mangroves.

Friday 9 August

Hinterland Harvest lunch with Raymond Blanc, Nelly Robinson, Alejandro Cancino

What happens when you put three wildly diverse chefs together in a kitchen at a place called Weddings at Tiffanys? Find out when classicist Raymond, modern progressive Nelly and vegan hero Alejandro join forces for this high-altitude lunch in Maleny. It could be a perfect match …

Saturday 10 August

QCamel and Hum Honey – Camels and Canapes

You’ve heard of paddock to plate. This is paddock and plate, a unique on-farm event that could well overturn everything you thought you knew about camels. Enjoy a sunset spread of champagne, craft beer and canapes while getting to know some of QCamel’s intelligent, affectionate dromedaries – and finding out why we should all be drinking more camel milk.

Spicers Den Dinner

From QCamel, head north on Steve Irwin Way, turn left at Landsborough and you’ll soon be high in the hinterland on the Blackall Range, one of the state’s great scenic drives. Your destination? The green and serene Spicers Tamarind Retreat, a small luxury hotel and home to Asian restaurant The Tamarind, helmed by chef Daniel Jarrett. For one night only, Jarrett will be joined by Zaiyu Hasegawa of Japan’s Best Restaurant (Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019) and gelato king Donato Toce of Gelato Messina. Because don’t all the best dinners end with ice-cream?

Sunday 11 August

Pocket Espresso Long Lunch
No festival would be complete without a long, late lunch of the best regional produce, and this breezy, Bondi-style cafe with a view is just the place for it. Get here early for a pre-prandial stroll along sweet little crescent-shaped Moffat Beach, bookended by rockpools and overlooked by Norfolk Island pines.

Baby and adult camel

Camels and canapes.

The Curated Plate Culinary Festival runs 8 to 11 August (main program), with an extended program from 5 to 18 August.

Necia Wilden travelled to Queensland as a guest of Visit Sunshine Coast.

If you're planning a Sunshine Coast escape, RACV members get 25 per cent off accommodation at RACV Noosa Resort, where you can bliss out in a luxury villa (rooftop spa, anyone?), rejuvenate with a message at One Spa or enjoy fresh produce and seasonal dining at modern Australian restaurant, Arcuri.

Escape to the Sunshine Coast staying at RACV Noosa Resort