IT WAS a whirlwind visit for English celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal who was in town with Australian culinary icon Peter Gilmore as part of the Margaret River Gourmet Escape on the weekend.
The duo was in town to promote the three-day food and wine event, which highlighted the produce of the region and included more than 30 international and Australian food and wine personalities.
Blumenthal, whose restaurant The Fat Duck has punters paying $525 to dine at the Crown Melbourne restaurant, said WA was one of the best places to find produce including truffles, seafood and wine.
‘At the Duck we bought more truffles from Western Australia this year than we did in Peregrine, France,’ he said.
‘They’re better and more consistent.
‘The wine estates particularly as a whole, ranging from Vasse Felix to Cullen, are fantastic.’
Having first travelled to Australia in 2003, Blumenthal said he had noticed a few changes in the food culture including the coffee boom, but was not surprised at how far West Australians had come.
‘I’ve been coming here since 2003 and from a UK point of view Australia has been going through a wine and food boom for several years,’ he said.
‘But when I made the (The Fat Duck) announcement, people were saying ‘why you going all the way to Australia, it seems a long way to go?’
‘They actually don’t realise the breadth of the quality of the produce is amazing and the coffee culture here is so big.’
Gilmore, owner of Sydney restaurant Quay, said the event was a unique and great one for the visiting chefs.
‘The good thing about this event is the organisers really make sure the chefs enjoy themselves and we get to see the region,’ he said.
‘It’s not just in and out, the whole weekend is nice.’
Blumenthal and Gilmore took part in a range of events, including the free Siemens Chef’s Theatre and ticketed dinners and brunches.
The event will also be back next year after the State Government committed to funding until at least 2017.