The first Kangaroo Island Seafood Feastival has been hailed a success by organisers and those who attended, with fine weather and good crowds at a Kingscote wharf precinct transformed by lights and a party atmosphere.
The five-day event opened with a cocktail party and barbecue hosted by celebrity TV chef Pete Evans who appeared to enjoy the event as much as those who enjoyed meeting him.
It could not be confirmed if Evans twittered his approval but he was overheard telling a resident: “KI is a place you come to feel good”.
On Saturday, a crowd of 350 to 400 people spent a leisurely day at the wharf, enjoying fresh seafood, meeting fishermen and witnessing the hotly contested KI Signature Dish Competition between three island chefs – Chan Thornley, Tony Nolan and Joe Hunter – and mainland TAFE instructor David Noolan.
Latitude 36’s Tony Nolan was the winner with a dish comprising whiting, pan-fried haloumi flamed with KI Spirits liqueur and island salad, eggs and capers.
Competition organiser Pierre Gregor, of Tourism Kangaroo Island, said the dish scored highest in the categories of presentation, taste, use of local produce, adaptability for local eateries, affordability, and story-telling.
The feastival continued with events at KI Shellfish in American River and KI Source at Penneshaw on Sunday; Southern Ocean Lodge on Monday and Lifetime Private Retreats on Wednesday. All but one was sold out.
Feastival organiser Nick Hannaford said it was too soon to talk about next year but he was pleased with the first event, which was staged as part of the biennial Tasting Australia.
He said the crowd had been about 70 per cent tourists and “festival junkies” had loved it.
“We wanted to create a good foundation to build on and really take this somewhere. We really need some sponsors to come forward with cash. We are grateful to all the sponsors who came on board in the first year, when it’s all just concepts and pictures on bits of paper.”
Mr Gregor said a large crowd had watched the KI Signature Dish cook-off on Saturday afternoon.
“It was really refreshing to see the wharf come to life. It highlighted the wharf’s utility and this laid a good foundation for an event that is synonymous with Kangaroo Island – seafood in a great environment.”