9 Experiences You Won’t Want To Miss At The Curated Plate

The Curated Plate is a 10-day celebration of the Sunshine Coast's wonderrful local produce, chefs and abundant natural assets.
The Curated Plate is a 10-day celebration of the Sunshine Coast’s wonderful chefs and local produce.

One of the things that sets The Curated Plate apart from other food festivals is that the events are held across a variety of locations rather than a single festival hub. Restaurants, farms, distilleries, on a boat, by the sea … these are just some of the locations on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast where the festival takes place.

A celebration of local produce, chefs and the Coast’s abundance of natural assets, The Curated Plate runs over 10 days from July 26 to August 4. I recently had a taste of some of the experiences on offer and can assure you that choosing from the program won’t be easy. Since many of the experiences are hugely popular, you’ll have to get your dancing shoes on if you want a seat at the table.

Here’s my guide to some of the experiences you won’t want to miss. For the full program of events, visit www.thecuratedplate.com.au

Chefs in Conversation

Learn the secrets behind some of the chefs shaping Sunshine Coast cuisine, when Peter Kuruvita, Tom Hitchcock, Cameron Mathews and Stacey Conner get together for Chefs in Conversation, one of the festival’s signature events.

Held at the new Maroochydore rooftop venue, Altitude Nine, on Saturday, July 27, the panel discussion will be hosted by celebrity cook Hayden Quinn (Taste of Australia & MasterChef). Guests will enjoy a welcome drink from local First Nations gin company, Beachtree Distilling Co, made with Australian native botanicals and organically grown sugar cane.

Afterwards, there’ll be delicious canapés and an opportunity to meet the chefs while taking in views of the sun setting over the Glasshouse Mountains from the rooftop bar. More information here.

A tour and tasting at Mooloolaba Fisheries will be part of the Trawler to Table event for The Curated Plate.
A tour and tasting at Mooloolaba Fisheries will be part of the Trawler to Table event for The Curated Plate.

Sunshine Pantry Live at The Station

On Sunday, July 28, there’ll be an opportunity to taste a huge range of local produce at Sunshine Pantry, a new signature event showcasing the best local produce the Coast has to offer. This will be a great opportunity for families and food enthusiasts to connect and shop with more than 70 of the region’s top producers and makers and to stock up your pantry with local products. Held at The Station SC, it promises a day of food and fun in a lively, family-friendly setting.

Sunshine Coast Asian Food Festival

Another of the festival’s signature events, the very popular annual Sunshine Coast Asian Food Festival will be held at Spicers Tamarind Retreat on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August. Set against the backdrop of the lush Maleny rainforest, enjoy an Asian-inspired menu from some of the best Asian restaurants on the Sunshine Coast, including The Tamarind, Rice Boi and Spirit House. There’ll be live entertainment and cooking demonstrations throughout the day.

Smoke & Charcoal BBQ Under the Stars

A preview of Warrior Restaurant's superb Wagyu beef dish, ahead of its Smoke & Charcoal BBQ Under the Stars.
A preview of Warrior Restaurant’s superb Wagyu beef dish, ahead of Smoke & Charcoal BBQ Under the Stars.

This opening-night celebration is not to be missed. Held in the Ironbark Paddock at The Crocodile Hunter Lodge, a luxury retreat at the Irwin family’s Australia Zoo, it will feature a Gubbi Gubbi smoking ceremony and a Smoke & Charcoal BBQ Under the Stars.

Featuring guest chef Peter Kuruvita and the team from the Lodge’s Warrior Restaurant & Bar, the menu will showcase Sunshine Coast produce in a menu of smoked, charred, roasted and fired canapés.

Warrior’s executive chef, Karl Wulf, is a passionate supporter of Sunshine Coast producers and growers. Over lunch at the restaurant recently, he mentioned that 23 of his suppliers are from within a 100km radius of the restaurant. Some of the ingredients he uses – such as the lemon myrtle that he infuses into olive oil — are literally from just outside the restaurant door.

At the Smoke & Charcoal BBQ, you’ll be able to sip on premium beverages from local favourite, Sunshine & Sons Distillery, and watch live cooking demonstrations by Peter Kuruvita and Karl Wulf. More information here.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Indulge in a Sunshine & Sons gin cocktail at a Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Yanalla Farms.
Indulge in a Sunshine & Sons gin cocktail at a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Yanalla Farms.

Journey down the rabbit hole on Friday, July 26, for a whimsical Mad Hatter’s Tea Party amongst the lychee orchards at Yanalla Farms.

Following on from the success of last year’s long lunch in the orchard, you’ll be able to spend an indulgent afternoon sipping tea and enjoying sweet and savoury treats including scones from Sconetime Beerwah, an organization which holds regular get-togethers for people to connect over freshy baked scones. There’ll be Sunshine & Sons gin cocktails, with laughter and fun guaranteed.

Hosted by chef Martin Duncan and Yanalla Farms’ Karen Martin, the party will showcase local producers and suppliers such as Green Valley Fingerlimes, Barry’s Family Butcher, Tin Shed Farm, The Local @ Beerwah, Top Nosh Meals, Vintage Whimsey, Montville Coffee, Artea The Tea Merchant, Sunshine & Sons and more.

7 Step Chef’s Tasting Menu – A Journey to Italy

Mooloolaba Yellowfin tuna crudo is one of the dishes on Bella Venezia's seven-course tasting journey.
Mooloolaba Yellowfin tuna crudo is one of the dishes on Bella Venezia’s seven-course tasting journey.

Put this one high on your wish list. On Saturday, July 27, Bella Venezia will take you on an extraordinary seven-course tasting journey crafted from Mooloolaba Seafood and other local ingredients.

I’ve had a preview of the menu and can vouch for the fact that everything from the starters to the desserts will be exquisite. Executive chef Ben Achurch is incorporating Mooloolaba Yellowfin tuna in his crudo appetizer, Mooloolaba King Prawn in the house-made ravioli, and serving melt-in-the-mouth sous vide grain-fed eye fillet with leek and potato terrine.

Opt for the wine matches if your budget can stretch to that. The premium package includes some incredible wines, such as an NV Ferrari ‘Maximum’ Blanc de Blancs from Trentino Alto Adige, Italy, and 2021 Château De Meursault ‘Bourgogne Blanc’ from Burgundy, France.

Canefields Distillery Farm Tour

Canefields Distillery grows and crushes its own sugar cane for its sugar cane spirit and single origin rums.
Canefields Distillery grows and crushes its own sugar cane for its sugar cane spirit and single origin rums.

One of the Sunshine Coast’s newest distilleries, Canefields is an initiative of Luke Farrelly, his wife Kylie Farrelly (head distiller) and Luke’s cousin, Dan Cook. What this trio is doing is amazing.

Their artisan distillery focuses on quality single origin rums and sugar cane spirit with a whole-of-lifecycle approach by growing, harvesting, crushing, fermenting, distilling, bottling and selling, all from the same farm shed.

On various dates throughout the festival, they’ll take you on a tour of the farm and distillery and follow that up with three tastings of spirits.

Seasonal Tastings – Winter Farm Open Day

Jess Huddart with the fabulous produce she grows at The Falls Farm.
Jess Huddart with the fabulous produce she grows at The Falls Farm.

In mid-winter, The Falls Farm is at its most diverse, productive and beautiful. The farm is bursting with amazing produce — many types of kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beetroot, radish, peas, lettuce, onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, citrus, and more. Many of the varieties grown are bespoke to the restaurant industry.

The farm is in an exceptionally beautiful landscape within metres of the Mapleton Falls National Park. Extensive areas on the farm have been landscaped with dams and watercourses, ‘secret’ gardens, forests and picnic areas.

Owners Ben Johnston and Jess Huddart take a regenerative approach to farming. They sell only what they grow, so whatever they have for tasting at their Winter Farm Open Day on Saturday, July 27, depends on what’s fresh on the day.

Spend a day at the farm wandering through the extensive market gardens, herb gardens, and orchards, on tours led by The Falls’ head gardeners, then enjoy tastings of the produce. Bring your own picnic blanket and basket and make a day of it.

Seasonal Tastings: Winter is for families; home gardeners; lovers of fresh seasonal produce; or those who just want a beautiful day in the country.

Brunch on the Balcony

Cameron Mathews' seriously good pub food at Mapleton Public House.
Cameron Mathews’ seriously good pub food at Mapleton Public House.

The owners of The Falls Farm also own Mapleton Public House, where esteemed chef Cameron Mathews is doing seriously good pub food. On Sunday, August 4, he’ll host Brunch on the Balcony overlooking one of the Sunshine Coast’s most beautiful views.

Sit back and enjoy the likes of sourdough crumpets, house made cottage cheese, cured line-caught fish and pickled vegetables straight from the farm, all served to share. Cold-pressed juices, Bloody Marys, Champagne, coffee and tea will also be on offer.

A creative and entrepreneurial duo, Ben Johnston and Jess Huddart have transformed the 113-year-old Mapleton Public House (formerly Mapleton Tavern), expanding the number of taps from six to 18 so they can showcase local beer. With Cameron Mathews harvesting many of his ingredients from The Falls Farm, this is truly paddock to plate dining.

A final note from Sunshine Coast ambassador, Peter Kuruvita, who moved with his family to the region more than a decade ago and has never looked back. The region really does have it all, he says.

“The Sunshine Coast has so many things that are endemic to this area: finger limes, macadamias, red claw marron, spanner crabs. (Then there are) the scallops, the best prawns in the whole country, the most sustainable fisheries,” Peter says.

Woombye Cheese has won numerous awards for its products.
Woombye Cheese has won numerous awards for its products.

“There are all kinds of incredible things available to us on the Sunshine Coast and The Curated Plate is about that. We’ve got enough gin distilleries here to cover the world. We have the highest concentration of craft breweries and then we have these incredible chefs, restaurateurs and producers.

“I was blown away when I first came here, that from the ocean all the way up into the hinterland we have people creating and producing amazing food. They’re going organic. They’re thinking about the future. They’re thinking about how this region could grow. It’s a proud moment for me to be involved.”

For the full program of events: www.thecuratedplate.com.au

For an easy way of getting around some of The Curated Plate events, we can highly recommend Creative Tours. Owner Josh Donohoe knows everything there is to know about the Sunshine Coast’s thriving food scene. Among his tours is one that includes Warrior restaurant’s Smoke & Charcoal BBQ Under the Stars event, with a diversion to Sunshine & Sons for a sunset cocktail. Visit www.creativetours.com.au for more information.

For general information on visiting the Sunshine Coast: www.visitsunshinecoast.com

Christine visited the Sunshine Coast for an Australian Society of Travel Writers’ event at Australia Zoo, and was hosted for one night by Visit Sunshine Coast to preview The Curated Plate.

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