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The Visa WOAP team - Festival highlights 2020

December 1, 2020

With the Christmas season approaching, the Wellington On a Plate and Beervana team is slowly getting ready for another period of great food and great memories amongst friends and families. Right now is also the perfect time to take a look back on a month full of culinary adventures.

A lot has happened during Visa Wellington On a Plate 2020…. a speaker food series, chefs collab, dishes to send your tastebuds into the stratosphere, burgers to wrap your laughing gear around (over and over), cocktails to sup, events, pop-ups, masterclasses and more!

Here are the Visa Wellington On a Plate and Beervana team’s Festival highlights!

Sarah Meikle, Festival Director   

“I was so fortunate this year to try so many dishes, burgers and festival events! Definitely a perk of the job! The stand outs for me were definitely the crayfish Dine dish at Boulcott Street Bistro and the fabulous 262 Brick Lane pop up menu at Field & Green. I loved the Breakneck Feed event at Shepherd and the Late 80s event too! The Wellington Food Story Speaker Series was a real highlight for me. Our food culture runs deep in Wellington and the contributors to this story proved just how much.

Beth Brash, Festival Programme Manager

“I feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness this year, grateful that we were able to go ahead with the festival, grateful for the hospitality staff for giving it their all, and grateful to all the public for supporting our incredible industry one burger/cocktail/dish at a time. 

A real highlight for me was the theme that emerged in this years programme around Wellington's food history and the homage to those who have paved the way for this great foodie city. Like the Late 80's Wellington event at Prefab, Rita's Sunday Series celebrating Lois Daish, and the Wellington Food Story Speaker Series at Te Papa. I went to all of these and my heart (and puku) was so full afterwards with the amazing stories of what Wellington's hopso scene used to be like. In a world where it's easy to get obsessed with the latest food trend and the latest opening, I think it is also important to celebrate those who did the prep (like in any good kitchen really).” 

Alice McEnaney, Programme Coordinator

“Some of my favourite moments of the festival were getting to attend some of the incredible collaborative events, including two of my favourite brunch spots coming together for Dragon's and Floriditas Yum Cha Meets Brunch, and Culprit coming down from Auckland to cook with the Shepherd team for Capital Culprit 2.0. These events really embodied this year's theme of Common Ground and felt especially special given everything that has happened this year!” 

Oliver Marshall, Sponsorship Manager

“This year I loved the new speaker series at Te Papa. Having the opportunity to hear from top Wellington restaurateurs about Wellington’s food story. Seeing pure passion pour out of them as they discussed their journeys and love for food was captivating and a great reminder for why we do what we do.”

JoAnne Carr, PR and Communications Manager

“My travel budget this year was duly transferred to my 2020 Visa Wellington On a Plate experience, so I ended up partaking in a full round of Festival events, pop-ups, Dine and Burger Wellington, with a few Cocktail Wellys on the side. 

Standout events were Shepherd's Breakneck Feed (my advice, if this event comes along again next year, is to pace yourself - hard to do as the food is exceptional, theatrical and unlike anything else you will have ever seen before); World's Fragrance vs Cocktail - An Olfactive Showdown (cocktails, canapés, perfume and whisked away with aromatic storytelling from World's colourful Benny Castles), and Let's Sling Gin Together (a gin-making and tasting course by Aurora Distillery, where you make your own gin on your own allocated, copper kettle gin still - these ones are one to watch! You'll be trying to find an open booking before long).  

As I'm half Filipino, I was really thrilled to see some Filipino-inspired dishes make it to Dine Wellington this year. The cuisine has taken off a bit more in the Auckland culinary scene than it has here in Wellington, so seeing the Pinoy community represent made my heart (and appetite) soar. Master Kong's Kohuatia - Boil Up was a local take on the traditional Filipino dish sinigang, a tamarind sour and savoury soup. Chef Rupert Palaroan used locally foraged, native ingredients in his translation, and it added a whole new dimension to the flavour, whilst remaining utterly  true and authentic to this Filipino dish. Totally blew me away, and I'm secretly hoping it's something that's added to the Master Kong menu, ongoing! I was also really thrilled to see one of my favourite desserts, Halo-Halo, available at Zelati Dessert Cafe! Such a fun dessert - the ingredients may seem a little odd to the uninitiated, but I promise there will be no regrets. 

I'm not a huge fan of burgers, but I had a few this year. People will say I'm biased, but I handsdown loved The Brisk Taker from Fork & Brewer (my partner is the brewer there, however, he had very little to do in the making of this burger). As I said, I am not a fan of burgers and normally only make my way through half of a burger before calling time (too much bread), but I had three of these, and finished each one. The other burger I loved was Meatloaf - the Burger, Not the Singer from cult foodtruck, Fryday Donuts, in Porirua (GO, if you haven't been - 100% worth the drive). Probably not unlike the singer, it was massive and ostentatious. But I ate every last bite (even if I did it in increments over two days). 

Special mention must go to pop ups restaurants at Egmont Street Eatery and Field & Green. I could've gone back to both multiple times. Casa del Egmont's Spanish-inspired plates were so delicious, but the dish that won me over was the Spanish anchovies, plated to look as though they were flying through the sky (thank you, Head Chef Adam Brack-Sinnott, for bringing that dish to my attention!). Field & Green's 262 Brick Lane pop-up.... Head Chef, Laura Greenfield, is a master of flavour. I don't know how she does it. Everything looks so wonderfully simple... then you take a bite and you're sailing through an epic poem of flavours. Yes, that's wanky, but there's no other way to put it. 

Now, excuse me as I waddle off to sign up for my new gym membership.” 

Melissa Davey, Head of Marketing and Communications 

“Once again the programme for Visa Welly On a Plate has been bursting with flavour and I've loved how people have come out in their thousands to support our amazing and truly world-class hospo scene. A real highlight has been discovering the rich and important history of food in our Capital City through the Food Stories of Wellington speaker series presented by Te Papa. From the streams and creeks once abundant with kai such as eel and fish (these creeks and streams still exist, they're just currently piped through underground culverts and drains in places such as Bowen Street and Cambridge Terrace), through to the the first coffee house on the waterfront built in 1840 (proving that coffee does indeed flow through the veins of Wellingtonians!), fast forward to the hazy days of the late '80's/early 90's restaurant scene, and on to today's cult hits, this series has shown that food has always been part of the fabric of our city. Check out our podcast page to hear more of these fascinating stories.”

Clèm Rebouillat, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator

“It was my second year participating to Visa WOAP and first year as a member of the WOAP team. The highlight of this month for me was discovering the Festival Events. The creativity and talent showcased by the restaurants in these culinary experiences was far beyond my expectation. Two of the most memorable events I have attended this year were the Breakneck Feed at Shepherd with 20 diners, 20 courses, 220 minutes and a Sensory Adventure by the Sensonauts, an event to awake your senses and imagination through textures, colours, music, sounds and of course flavours.” 

Ryan McArthur, Beervana Manager

“With Beervana not being held within Visa Wellington On a Plate this year, I spent most of the festival behind the Beervana typewriter so my few experiences with the festival involved a handful of burgers, a team outing to 1980's Wellington and a wonderful lunch at Boulcott Street Bistro.

But my highlight had to be seeing the team here realise a festival that not so long ago seemed like an impossibility.

So that and aforementioned lunch at Boulcott Street Bistro that hit so many of the things that make me go mmmmmm: Oysters, Martinis (Martinis, Oysters), Crayfish, French Fries and that Monkey-Fighting, Monday to Friday Beef Tartare!!!

It was like the menu was made just for me and I'm still dreaming of it.”