Ultimate guide to Taste of Auckland in partnership with Electrolux

Friends and fellow foodies, the wait is almost over. A staple on many calendars across the country, New Zealand’s greatest restaurant festival is back at Western Springs with the biggest line-up ever.

Friends and fellow foodies, the wait is almost over. A staple on many calendars across the country,
New Zealand’s greatest restaurant festival is back with the biggest line-up ever.

As summer approaches, days of sitting in the sun with friends, sipping on a glass of cuvée and enjoying the finest that Auckland’s top restaurants have to offer are drawing closer to reality! From 16 - 19 November, the idyllic Western Springs will once again be covered in gorgeous marquees and host bright sparks of culinary inspiration for friends and foodies alike.

As a festival that evolves each year along with the dining scene, foodies are given the chance to enjoy their pick of restaurant dishes including a special Icon Dish made exclusively for the festival from the exceptional line-up of some of Auckland’s best chefs. There’s plenty in store for lovers of all things delish, including more than 100 artisan stalls and opportunities to meet some of the country’s leading chefs and personalities in the Auckland food scene right now. You’re sure to find something that will have your taste buds buzzing.

To make the most of the gastronomic affair, here is a guide to discover all the activities, food, drink and shopping you can expect at Western Springs.

Like a day at the races, Taste is an occasion you want to dress up for. The first of the summer festivals, it marks the start of the new season in the best way possible. There are a few things to remember to help you navigate your way through foodie wonderland with ease and style. Do remember to dress for the weather and choose shoes that will see you through your wanderings. An SPF moisturiser is also a non-negotiable as even if it’s cloudy, the sun will find you and most importantly, remember to bring your friends so you can eat, drink and be merry together. Make sure you check the website for demo and music schedules before purchasing your tickets.

After purchasing a day’s worth of Crowns, the official electronic currency of Taste festivals, follow your nose directly to any one of the 10 Taste restaurants. Since Taste of Auckland’s debut in 2009, our city’s culinary standing has continued its indomitable rise. Rounding up the best in town to delight your senses with sumptuous signature dishes, let your taste buds travel and discover the taste of Northern Thailand with Saan’s spicy green papaya salad. Te Mana lamb meatballs and BBQ crayfish from Baduzzi, contemporary Indian chilli chicken from 1947 Eatery, traditional Chinese pork belly with ARTWOK, and crispy duck and galangal crab from Tok Tok. French styled Boeuf Bourguignon taco with beef cheek at Paris Butter, Hawkes Bay lamb straight, from the fit pit at Miss Moonshines, octopus confit with Vodka Room, goats curd stuffed zucchini flower from Euro Bar & Restaurant and a special take on pineapple lumps from Eat NZ collaborative kitchen with The Cult Project. And that’s not even a third of the menu. With so much good nosh on offer, all emphasising local, rustic, seasonal and sustainable ingredients, there’s bound to be something which will bring you a deep level of nearly indescribable satisfaction.

Also turning up the heat at Western Springs, this year sees the return of hangi master Rewi Spraggon for the Gourmet Hangi with Riki Bennett. Joined by a guest chef each session, including Augustus Bistro’s Juan Balsani creating ‘Baron of Beef Hangi’, Farina Restaurant’s Sergio Maglione’s ‘Octo Hangi’, plus Masterchef winners Kasey and Karena Bird, Ben Bayly and his team from The Grove, Kyle Street from Culprit and Will Michell of The Smoko Room at the Sawmill Brewery. Each chef will offer festival visitors their own ideas and ingredients to this traditional Maori favourite. The Gourmet Hangi will no doubt prove popular and not be like anything you’ve ever experienced before!

Widely regarded as the makeshift home to some of the best craft beer you could wish to taste in one destination, the smash hit Brew Street returns for 2017. Not only will this be the village to the best boutique breweries in town, brewers such as Liberty Brewing, Tuatara, and Good George Brewing will also lead you through history and tastings of several forms of their craft beers taking over New Zealand’s trendiest bars and restaurants in ‘Meet the Brewer’ talks.

They call it a ‘une petite pause’ in French, that time required to digest the last mouthful before you take another bite. Take a stroll towards the Electrolux Taste Theatre as what follows is terrific fun. If you love to cook food almost as much as you love to eat it, then this is the perfect place to learn at the feet of the masters. MasterChef Australia judge, chef and restaurateur George Calombaris will be live on stage and in action Saturday afternoon and evening sessions with his interpretation of Kiwi favourite ‘fish and chips’ (very unlikely to resemble the humble takeaway style we know so well), while Ponsonby darling Saan’s Lek Trirattanavatin will demonstrate how you can achieve his award-winning Thai flavours on Friday afternoon. Reigning queens of raw organic goodness, Little Bird Organic’s Megan May will also be doing Good Taste demos in the Electrolux Taste Theatre, showing off the real deal in the realm of food that’s good for you, good for the planet and tastes good too.

If you’d prefer to pick up a pan and cook with some of the country’s culinary superstars, then Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets is for you. Pure indulgence at its best, you’ll not only receive a warm greeting and Famous Vodka Cocktail on arrival, but also learn how to cook one of Nic Watt of True Food & Yoga or Sean Connolly of The Grill’s signature dishes and enjoy the meal and glass of matched wine with them afterwards. Places for these intimate masterclass experiences are on a strictly ‘first-come, first-serve’ basis so be sure to book your spot on arrival.

A mid-point coffee is a well-deserved treat at this stage. No better a place to visit than Harpoon Cold Brew, Rocket Espresso or IncaFe, who’ll guide you towards unexpected flavours from beans grown around the world. Fully energised, it’s time to discover the vast array of produce from more than 100 artisan producers at the gourmet village that is the festival.

Find the most fragrant olive oil from Two Black Dogs, pressed by family owned groves in Mangawhai, then to accompany it, pick up a block of cheese from classic Kiwi cheese-maker, Puhoi Valley or antipasto from Food Snob. Gifts for absent gastronauts are in abundance, but a tub of Hamilton’s award-winning Duck Island ice cream or Hogarth Craft Chocolate is one you might think twice about giving away. Whatever you’re into, you’ll find something which tickles your fancy.
There’ll also be a host of masterclasses, as well as tasting sessions for wine and whiskey. Wine Marlborough will be hosting an exciting series of masterclasses delivered by doyen of New Zealand wine, Bob Campbell MW, while Villa Maria and Yealands Family Wines will each have a stand alone container bar. Dangerously drinkable at any time of the day, we have it on good authority that Cointreau will be providing an intriguingly unique experience this year, offering a range of mini ‘cocktail masterclasses’ for Taste lovers to create. Glenfiddich also bringing their range of aged whiskies for those seeking to indulge in the finer things in life. It’s imperative to stay hydrated, and non
-alcoholic thirst quenchers to be discovered include Basilur Tea, Hakanoa Homemade ginger beers, Mama's Brewshop kombucha, Six Barrel Soda, Waiheke Water and The Soda Press.

As recuperation from the retail therapy, make your way to the live music bandstand to enjoy the tunes. All good events have an incredible playlist and Taste’s exhilarating music showcase will again be curated by the maestro of funk, Peter Urlich. Enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting and cool down in the sunshine to soul, jazz, funk and authentic blues to acts like Too Many Chiefs on opening night, Looking for Alaska on Friday afternoon and Nathan Haines Band on Saturday afternoon. Each session features different acts and who knows, you might meet some of your favourite culinary heroes on the dance floor too! Grant Marshall is hosting on Friday evening and Peter Urlich himself will take to the decks on Saturday in what is now a Taste of Auckland festival ritual.

If revelling in the full-service experience with all the tasty extras is what you are accustomed to, then the Qantas VIP ticket is your guaranteed way to get the full festival benefits. Enjoy the opulence from the time you drive in, with complimentary parking, to when you walk in through the festival gates, with a wine and gourmet snacks on arrival in the lounge.

Bring along your friends and experience the deliciousness for yourself. This is your year to join in on the fun at Taste of Auckland. Advance purchase tickets from $17.