Hawkes Bay’s Food and Wine Classic has garnered a well-deserved reputation for hosting beautiful events amongst stunning scenery and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t recognise Al Brown from either his string of successful restaurants, cooking shows and books (or all of the above). However, the event bringing them together this summer has a surprising element of secrecy that makes it all the more intriguing.
Hearing Al chat excitedly about his food philosophy, there’s no doubt he’s just the person to host F.A.W.C’s ever-popular Secret Location Lunch, taking place at a undisclosed spot somewhere amongst Black Barns set of picturesque locations on November 14. Prioritising fun over fanciness, the event promises a winning combination of games, Al’s famously simple food and, of course, a generous supply of Black Barn Wine.
“New Zealand is about informality – we do informality really, really well. We do generosity really, really well and we do simplicity. That’s all we need to do. We don’t need to try and be grand or to do dots on the plates and architectural and molecular food,” Al explains.
This view is sure to incite a sigh of relief in every New Zealander who adores good food but is quick to shy away from any dinner with a dress-code. Al says his Auckland restaurant Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar embodies this idea, taking inspiration from the feel of a family bach in all its mismatched charm. After all, there’s nothing better than a family gathering in the kitchen while the food cooks and then again around the table to share it.
Those heading along to the sold-out event won’t just be standing on the sidelines either; the lunch’s relaxed atmosphere means it’s the perfect chance to get in the kitchen with Al to help prepare his delicious fare.
Such an experience sums up exactly what F.A.W.C’s about: bringing people together to celebrate the warmer months over seasonal food and the best local wine. Al says his favorite produce from the region are the strawberries grown at Billy Scott’s family-owned farm in Havelock North.
“We’re about being connected to the land, being close to the food source and just cooking it in a very generous and simple way that brings people together. That’s the New Zealand food scene I reckon,” he says.
It’s a line of thought that also runs through the hearts of the hosts; Black Barn is a small, boutique vineyard that welcomes visitors to their beautiful quarters year-round. Their size means they’re interested in meeting the people who enjoy their wine and cultivating relationships with them. Brought together, these elements mean F.A.W.C’s Secret Location Lunch is sure to be a special summer afternoon for guests to remember.
“All the great memories that you can have eating or drinking will always be about who you’re with or where you were,” Al says. “At the end of the day if you bring people together, put some great food on the table, open some bottles of wine I guarantee you the fun will always come.”
Hawke’s Bay’s Food and Wine Classic Summer Series runs from the 6th to the 15th of November. To find out more about the many exciting events on offer, head to F.A.W.C’s website, click here to peruse their programme or keep up to date by following their Facebook page.