Melbourne wouldn't be Melbourne without at least two festivals happening at any one time. This week alone there is LMFF, the French Film Festival, the Queer Film Festival, the Indian Film Festival and my favourite of course the Food and Wine Festival. Phew, I'm exhausted just typing them all out.
The Food and Wine Festival kicked off last Friday and I was lucky enough to score tickets to see Jamie Oliver live. I was a little sceptical about going to see a chef do his thing in a stadium. After all, how on earth do you cook on a stage that the majority of the 6000 people attending, can barely see?
Well you have giant screens for a start. And then you open your show by having your band perform Wonderwall while you drum and cook simultaneously. It certainly engaged the audience from the get-go.
Jamie went on to do a bit of 'the story so far...' of his career with lots of edited tidbits on the big screens. I admire that he can, and does, take the mickey out of himself and it meant for some entertaining jokes at his expense.
Once the cooking started Jamie's passion for food came to the fore. Love him or hate him you cannot deny that he is genuinely hopeful that people the world over will embrace the consumption of fresh food and in turn, improve their health. As his dad put it 'people die in bed', so get up and get busy.
The passion of his fans was also obvious with many starstruck men and women up on stage, some having travelled all the way from Malaysia to attend the show.
Jamie whipped up a spinach and ricotta rotolo among other things, and was joined by Toby Puttock and Matt Skinner. I am now on the hunt for Toby's t-shirt which declared 'I heart mozzarella'.
Two of the success-story chefs from 15 in Melbourne also cooked on stage, one making Jamie's infamous Chocolate Nemesis, which according to it's creator 'you can't die without having'.
The most entertaining part of the show for me, was Jamie phoning a pizza live on stage, with the audience privy to the rude operator at the other end of the line. He then went on to show you can whip up your own cheat's pizza at home (which he cooked in a fry pan), in the time it takes for a takeaway to arrive, and for a fraction of the cost.
Jamie's most sage piece advice (other than that the herb itself 'needs fat to do beautiful things') is that when you are cooking you must 'taste it, think about it (and decide) what does it need?' Good food is about freshness and flavour and the only way you will know if yours is any good is to taste it while you're making it.
My advice would be 'don't go to the celebrity chef's show before you eat dinner' or you'll be ravenous watching all the yummy dishes being prepared on screens two stories high.
Enjoy the festival everyone!