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10 Insider Tips for Visa Welly On a Plate 2021

June 1, 2021

And we’re LIVE! 

With hundreds of unique Festival Events, dine Festival Dishes, Garage Project presents Burger Wellington and creative Cocktail Wellington presented by Tommy’s, it’s going to be the most delicious month the Greater Wellington Region has to offer.

Before you start planning your culinary adventures this coming August; we want to make sure you’re ready to have the best Festival experience!

Here are 10 insider tips you should know ahead of this year’s festival!

1/ “One of these things is not like the other” - Sesame Street

Every year, Visa Wellington On a Plate introduces a new festival theme to inspire our hospo talent to serve up amazing culinary experiences during the most delicious month of the year.

For 2021, our festival theme is “Out of Place”. What does it mean you may ask? Out of Place is whatever your imagination interprets. It can mean an element of surprise, challenging experiences, adventurousness or the exotic… One thing is certain, venues from across the Greater Wellington Region have worked hard to deliver an out of this world programme for this year’s festival. Check it out!

2/ The Super Bumper Culinary Weekend

Speaking about something out of the world… Did you spot that massive culinary weekend, looming in the distance...? This year, the weekend of 13-15 August will see one of the biggest ever in New Zealand’s culinary and beverage history. For the first time in the history, Visa Wellington On a Plate will be serving up Beervana, Dine Wellington, Burger Wellington and Cocktail Wellington simultaneously over the one weekend. So, make sure to plan ahead, this one is going to be a busy one...

Our three creatives for the Visa Welly On a Plate campaign inspired from left to right by Hanging Ditch's cocktail, Atlas' burger and Arashi's dine dish.

3/ New look, same us!

After 13 years of creating culinary memories, our campaign imagery is taking on a new look. The brand champions both the craft of our food and beverage community (the amazing restaurants, bars, hotels, cafés, brewers, winemakers, producers, suppliers, chefs, front of house staff, and event organisers who make up this fine region) and is paired with the excitement you, our hungry diners have for Visa Wellington On a Plate.

We take you out of this world and ask you to explore your imagination. Combining the above, this year’s campaign creative is a set of illustrations that have been inspired by our participants' festival dish, burger and cocktail. The illustrations we have created take us to the depths of our imagination to culinary worlds like we’ve never seen before. 

4/ Festival Dishes are inspired by their Wellington Stories.

Dine Wellington has evolved over the last 13 years to truly become "Wellington On a Plate". This year, all 71 Festival Dishes will tell a Wellington story, with inspiration behind the dishes pulling from the Capital's topography, history, people as well as homages to restaurants gone before. They say food tastes better when you know the story behind it, so have a browse through our Festival Dishes and discover some of Wellington’s greatest food stories.

Morgy from Belles Hot Chicken made an appearance last year for the festival launch event: Hot for Chicken

5/ Travel bubble, return of international chefs

Remember last year? Sadly our internationals couldn’t make it but some found creative ways to make sure they were not forgotten (see image above). The recent opening of the Trans-Tasman bubble means we will be seeing some familiar and new faces from across the ditch!

Amongst those, Morgy, a.k.a Morgan Mcglone, will be making his return to serve us his world-class renowned Belles Hot Chicken at Visa Wellington On a Plate launching event: Hot for Chicken!

Fancy a noodle party? Palisa Anderson from Chat Thai, Sydney will pay a visit to The Larder for a two-day only lunchtime noodle themed pop-up.

Or you can enjoy the outdoors with Chef Analiese Gregory who’s making her return from rural Tasmania to take you on a foraging adventure at her favourite Wellington spots, learning about, and picking the food that grows wild around Wellington.

6/ Lots of chef collabs

Every year, chef collaborations are at the epicenter of what the festival is about: a showcase of how our supportive hospo community come together. This year is no different and we have some interesting pairings, here is a short teaser of what’s coming up:

You can explore all the chef collabs by visiting our Chef Collab curated list.

7/ Soft food anyone?

During Visa Wellington On a Plate 2019, artist ChiliPhilly (Phil Ferguson) treated us with his extravagant presence and won Wellingtonians’ hearts with his ‘No Way Crochet’ food-themed exhibition.

This year, Australian-based artist, 'I Make Soft Food' (Chloe A Smith), brings felt and food together with delicate and not-so edible renditions of your favourite culinary delights. From pavlova and antipasti platters to rotting bananas and mouldy bread, 'I Make Soft Food' creates meticulously crafted and often darkly humorous soft-sculptural replicas of the mundane.

It All Felt Too Hard is our free festival exhibition at Te Auaha features a selection from the 'I Make Soft Food' collection alongside new works commissioned specifically for Visa Wellington On a Plate. Have a ‘taste’ of her work and make sure to come and check it out this 2-8 August at Te Auaha.

Our Wellington Food Stories Speaker series in collaboration with Te Papa will make a return for Visa Wellington On a Plate 2021!

8/ Our speaker series is back!

Our Wellington Food Stories Speaker Series is informative panel discussions about various culinary topics within Wellington's unique food story featuring Wellingtonian chefs, historians and storytellers is fascinating. Last year, we explored topics such as the importance of food in Wellington's early history from the perspective of tangata whenua or the story behind the coffee culture of Wellington that started way back in the 1870s

This year (with no surprise) we will be going out of place and hearing about stories and influences that make our food culture so diverse. From the cookhouses providing the comfort of home cooking to a mainly bachelor community in Haining Street at the turn of the 20th century to the history of the Italian community and the ongoing legacy the Bresolin name has on the Wellington Food Scene. Our speaker series takes place at Te Papa's Te Marae Rongomaraeroa after work on Tuesdays (5:15pm - 5:45pm).

9/ Fancy new website stuff

Amongst already existing website features such as wish lists, printing your own guide and festival maps, we’re introducing something new this year: shared curated lists. Directly available from our homepage, these lists curated by the Visa Welly On a Plate team will be updated weekly and will group festival events, dine, burgers and cocktails from this year’s programme by preferences, taste buds and level of adventurousness.

So, watch this space as we’re sure there will be something for everyone. You should also subscribe to our newsletter if you wish to be notified before everyone else when these are out.

Oh yeah, and have we mentioned that voting is back?

10/ We are launching our podcast channel!

True wisdom comes from stories that inspire us to do better, and when it comes to Visa Welly On a Plate, we take our mission of telling Wellington's Food Story very seriously. In alignment with our Wellington Food Stories Speaker Series, we are launching our podcast channel. Stay tuned as we will be interviewing people of the festival and personalities who have influenced our food culture.