Chef Paul West, Tasting Australia visitors enjoy Kangaroo Island

Tasting Australia’s tours of Kangaroo Island went off really well with guests enjoying fine dining, local produce and the scenery.

The main component of Tasting Australia’s regional focus this year was guests flying into Kangaroo Island, Coffin Bay and the Limestone Coast's Mayura Station on charter flights from Adelaide, on flights nicknamed “Tasting Australia Airlines”.

Also part of the SA food festival, celebrity chef Paul West was flown into Kangaroo Island for a special dinner at the Sunset Food and Wine restaurant just outside of Penneshaw.

Sunset Food and Wine chef Jack Ingram, previously head chef at Southern Ocean Lodge, played host to Mr West for an exclusive four-course dinner for 40 lucky diners.

The menu consisted of all KI produce and featured abalone, oysters, barramundi farmed by the Parndana KICE students, King George Whiting and a main course of KI lamb.

Desert were quinces grown at American River with KI honey. Chocolates with KI Spirits’ honey and walnut liqueur were also served. 

Mr Ingram said Tasting Australia decision to visit the Island was a great boost for local tourism and dining. 

“Chef Simon Bryant asked if we could be involved and we jumped at the opportunity,” he said. “Paul is a perfect fit for the Island.”

West family loved KI

Mr West made his name being the host of the River Cottage Australia television show and now appears various ABC television productions.

He said he jumped at the chance to visit Kangaroo Island and during his weekend on the island, he and his family were hosted by KI Food and Wine Association president Tony Nolan.

The West family started their visit with a tour of the Dudley Winery hosted by the patriarch Jeff Howard, cracking open a bottle of bubbly and watching the sunset. 

“It was magic, great wine, great people and it will be something that will stay with me for a long time.”

“When I was approached by Tasting Australia to become involved in their regional tours, straight away it was Kangaroo Island for me as I have always fantasized about visiting,” Mr West said. 

“I spent a bit of time on Tasmania and loved it there. There is something about ‘islandness’ that you are contained in one spot, living right on the ocean with fabulous food and produce, being produced on a small scale with an emphasis on quality.”

Mr West and his partner Alicia Cordia and their young sons Otto and Bowie stayed at Island Beach and on Saturday after the dinner took in the Kangaroo Island Football League match at Penneshaw.

The family also visited Remarkable Rocks, Clifford’s Honey Farm and the new KI Ecopia Retreat, which is being built by Rob Clements, son of KI mayor Peter Clements, and his partner Yael.

It’s located just off the Eleanor River on the stunning KI south coast.

He said he and his family were very impressed with what Mr Clements and his partner have built.

Mr Nolan said Kangaroo Island in the last seven or eight years had developed into a real food and wine destination, when previously it was only known for its seals and Remarkable Rocks.

Mr West said he and his family would definitely be back.

“Coming here was like meeting someone you know you are going to be friends with for the rest of your life,” he said.

And Mr Nolan joked back that having Paul visit was “like finding a long-lost son”.

Tasting Australia Airlines

Barbara Sibley from the KI Commissioner’s office said the visitors who flew in on three Tasting Australia Airlines flights also had a great time exploring the Island.

“It went really well and the weather glorious,” Mrs Sibley said. “The visits to Islander Estate was great, then down to Snelling Beach and the Shearing Shed for a wonderful meal.”

The Tasting Australia visitors then went to KI Spirits for gin and whisky tastings by Jon Lark and his brother Bill from Lark Whisky Distillery in Tasmania.

“The guests did tastings of both products and it was a wonderful presentation with typical brothers, sparring off each other,:: she said, “It was great fun.”

At the Tasting Australia inaugural Master Cask awards last Thursday night in Adelaide, KI Spirits won a gold for its Whisky-barrel Gin, along with two silvers for Mulberry Gin and Old Tom Gin and two bronzes for Cape Borda Gin and Wild Gin.