Noosa Food & Wine Festival
What better way to get your last hit of summer than by heading to Noosa for the Food and Wine Festival this month. The four-day event kicks off on May 18 and sees more than 70 chefs and 50 winemakers converge in Queensland to bring the best in brunches, sunset dinners, seafood feasting, degustation and glamping breakfast luxuries.
woman with drive spoke with owner of Noosa’s Wasabi restaurant Danielle Gjestland to get the lowdown on her famed restaurant’s culinary inspiration whilst also sharing some tips on what to do when in Noosa.
Wasabi has been rated by Gourmet Traveller as one of the best regional restaurants in Queensland and awarded two chefs hats by the Good Food Guide in 2015.
What inspires the menu at Wasabi?
We are a traditional Japanese fine dining restaurant that specialises in degustation dining. Although we are outside Japan, we strongly believe that a true Japanese restaurant should be heavily influenced by the season as they are in Japan – and should be a reflection of its environment. This makes us unique as while we still keep the Japanese palate wholly in mind. We use seafood and other ingredients that can only be found in our region. Australians are sometimes guilty of thinking that everything from outside is better. We have some of the best and most unique dining experiences in the world and that should be celebrated.
What can Noosa Food and Wine Festival goers expect at Wasabi?
Guests can expect to eat a menu reflective of the Noosa area – a menu with a real sense of place that seeks to highlight the key ingredient of the dish and promote the growers of the region. For example a dish of local black kingfish served with caramelised Yandina ginger and a ponzu cure made with citrus we picked from a local farm.
What do you love most about Noosa?
As a teenager growing up in Noosa, I couldn’t wait to leave. It’s a mentality that a lot of small town natives have. My first career was in the travel industry so I have travelled a lot. I was living in London and when I came home it hit me how special and uniquely beautiful Noosa really is. I feel lucky to live here and to be able to work at something I am passionate about. I have the added bonus of having nostalgic memories of being a kid here. That gives me a whole other dimension of comfort and belonging that people who have come from all over the world don’t have with this beautiful place they now call home.
Tell us what a visitor should do in 48 hours in Noosa
〉 Get up early and walk from the Noosa National Park entrance along the coastal track to take in the picturesque views. Walk up to Hell’s Gate. If you’re feeling active keep going via Alexandra Bay to the park exit at Sunshine Beach.
〉 Call a taxi to pick you up on McAnally Drive and have them drop you to Costa Noosa on Duke Street in the village of Sunshine Beach for a great coffee made with beans roasted on the premises and something sweet (you’ve earned it).
〉 Take cab to Hasting Street for a refreshing swim at Noosa Main Beach followed by a double pineapple frenzy from the van in the parking lot at the end of the beach.
〉 For lunch a late lunch head to Noosaville (Thomas Corner or Jimmy Fox) and collect some delicious bites to take away.
〉 Grab your makeshift picnic and hire from Malu Os Electric Eco boat hire and spend the afternoon hopping from sandbar to sandbar and watching the world sail by.
〉 Saturday night – have dinner at Wasabi for the nine-course degustation. Let us spoil you while you watch fish, stingrays and the occasional turtle swim right by you.
〉 Sunday morning head to the Noosa farmers markets.
〉 Sunday Lunch at Boardwalk Bistro for some oysters and local cuttlefish.
〉 Sunday evening – wind down the weekend at El Capitano with grilled local prawns, pizza and a good cocktail or at Locale if you want to end on a luxe note.
What’s been a career highlight for you and why?
Wasabi has won many accolades over the years and while that is wonderful, the highlight was being asked to be part of the judging panel for the Appetite for Excellence Program. The program promotes professionalism and collaboration within the industry and helps support the next generation of industry leaders. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the Young Restaurateur award in 2009. One of my talented young team members is currently going through the program and I couldn’t be prouder.
Your fave go to meals?
Local scallops cured simply with some red onion, chopped mitsuba leaves, a mix of orange, lemon and lime juice, a little shichimi seven spice for seasoning and a garnish of finger lime caviar and your done. Simple and delicious.
Your cool checklist of where to stay, eat, shop and do in Noosa?
Where to stay: Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas, Netanya Noosa, Noosa Residences.
Where to dine: Wasabi, Noosa Waterfront, Sails, Thomas Corner Eatery, Noosa Beach House.
What to do: yoga on the beach, standup paddle boarding, Noosa Springs Day Spa, Hinterland Food Tour, Everglades Tours.
Where to shop: Frangipani, Maisie and the 7 Seas, Alterior Motif, Jive Gallery and in neighbouring village of Peregian Beach – The Romantic.
Image credit: Lachie Millard
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