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Wellington On A Plate food festival sees hospitality scene roar back to life

The capital’s hospitality scene is welcoming the floods of punters coming through their door after Visa’s Wellington On A Plate kicked off last week.

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Visa’s Wellington On A Plate saw floods of punters through their doors after being postponed in August. Source: 1 NEWS

The festival, usually held in August to combat the slower winter months, was postponed due to Covid-19 but restaurant owners say the timing couldn’t be better.

“After an up and down year and not being open, then being open, then not being open again, it’s been really hard to get any momentum this year. It’ll be good to get the final months of this year really amping,” said chef Shepherd Elliot, owner of Wellington’s Shepherd eatery.

Most of the festival’s more than 120 events have already sold out, with many restaurants forced to turn diners away.

Noble & Rot, a wine bar just off Cuba Street, reported its busiest two days ever after the festival’s launch.

In 2019 foodies spent more than $30 million throughout the festival.

Sarah Meikle, VWOAP’s organiser, said the response from the public has been exceptional and ticket sales are on par with previous years.

“More than anything, we want to see the whole region come alive.”

The month-long event is New Zealand’s largest culinary festival and launched on Thursday, October 1 with Hot for Chicken, a pop-up collaboration with Morgan McGlone’s Belles Hot Chicken from Melbourne.

International chefs are usually a festival highlight but the global pandemic has meant focusing on culinary experts already here in New Zealand, seeing chefs from around the country flock to the capital for collaborations with Wellington hospitality hot spots.

On Saturday evening, Michelin-starred Auckland-based chef Marc de Passorio joined Sofitel Wellington’s Jardin Grill team for a six-course French degustation dinner.

The ticketed event, one of the festival’s sell-outs, cost $295 per head and included a seared tuna dish de Passorio had once cooked for Russian Presidemt Vladimir Putin; apparently one of the world leader's favourites.

The dinner was also paired with Hans Herzog wines, grown and produced in Marlborough.

“It’s a really good time to embrace New Zealand and embrace the hospitality and restaurants we have here,” said Elliot.

For more information on the festival and events, head to the website.