Food fest with a difference

Food fest with a difference
PHOTO: Food fest with a difference

He has attended food congresses around the world, but Ryan Clift, chef/owner of the Tippling Club, says there is nothing quite like the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival.

"Most food congresses are held in stuffy, massive expo halls or theatres, whereas in Noosa, the festival is held in a park with an open air stand and live bands performing. It evokes a laid back and fun vibe that to date, no other festival has given me," says Chef Clift.

He was invited by festival director, Jim Berardo, to attend the festival, which was held last month.

Despite having spent a decade working in Melbourne, where he was head chef at the acclaimed Vue de Monde, this was Chef Clift's first visit to Noosa. At the festival, he was part of a team of Australian and international chefs who presented an eight-course degustation meal. For this dinner, the chef, who had first dibs on which course he wanted to do, presented a dessert, Textured Milks, made from various types of milk, such as coconut and almond.

The following night, he was cooking at another dinner with two other Australian chefs. This time, Chef Clift presented the appetizer, wagyu carpaccio with burrata, artichoke, tomato and topped with sea grapes.

As with all chefs participating at the festival, he also did a cooking demonstration.

"Attending a food festival is a great way to network and make new friends from the industry," he says. "More importantly, I like the fact that people who may not have been to Singapore, or to dine at the Tippling Club, get to see and understand my philosophy and get to know my food through the demonstrations and dinners, and hopefully become future customers."

Apart from participating at the festival, Chef Clift also checked out some local producers of the Sunshine Coast, including visits to cheese producers, vegetable farms, and even a fishing trip.

Of the produce, he says: "It is outstanding. The people of Sunshine Coast are totally spoilt with the amazing quality of the produce there."

Besides the quality of the produce, what stood out for him was the passion of the farmers and their attitude towards keeping everything local.

"Even though they were growing produce under tough circumstances, such as having to deal with pigs eating the produce, and they could make more money sending their produce overseas, these farmers are proud to have their ingredients used by local chefs instead," says Chef Clift.

Despite already having a regular cheese supplier to his restaurant, he says that he is already thinking of using cheeses from the producers that he visited. "Everyone is so caught up with French cheese, they forget what else is available, and some of the cheeses I tried in Sunshine Coast were world class," he says. "The Cedar Street Cheeserie's haloumi made from local buffalo milk was insane."


This article was first published on June 6, 2015.
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