Immersing himself in Launceston’s fresh, quality produce is high on celebrity chef Matt Preston’s agenda when he visits the state for Festivale next week.
The award-winning food journalist and best-selling cookbook author will whip up his famous chicken nugget katsu slider with wasabi mayo as part of the Tasmanian Food Co’s Cooking in the Park series at Festivale.
Over the three-day food and wine event there will be eight free one-hour cooking demonstrations by different chefs.
Other chefs taking part include Timbre owner Matt Adams, Cataract on Paterson executive chef Chris Williams, Hotel Grand Chancellor Launceston executive chef Elliott Chugg and 2015 Masterchef contestant Amy Luttrell.
Preston will share the culinary secrets of his baked not fried chicken nugget sliders at 5pm on Saturday, February 2, next to the children’s playground.
“I’m a big believer in doing stuff that, one: people will want to do at home; two: that their friends and family will love; and three: that you’ll actually walk away from remembering,” Preston said.
“I take a bit of an issue with those very chefy demonstrations, it’s something you’ll never make and you can’t remember any of it.”
Preston will be using some of Launceston’s quality produce throughout the demonstration, including Tasmanian Nichols Ethical Free-Range Chicken.
“I think Tasmania has done an amazing job in setting itself up as this clean, green island,” he said.
“The messaging is so clear about Tasmanian quality and that doesn’t matter whether it is coming through the producers themselves or whether it is coming from the local chefs who are championing those products.
An event like Festivale is such an important thing to get your southern brothers and sisters looking North, enviously.Matt Preston
“That is one of the great things about Festivale, we will wander around before my demonstration and pick some really interesting things to play with.”
Recipe cards will be available after each session and the demonstrations are free to attend.
The celebrity chef is also planning to visit Launceston’s iconic and much-loved Harvest Market while he is in the state.
“I’ll be wandering around and seeing as much as I can. I approach these things as a huge opportunity,” he said.
Talking to producers and growers about what they do and their products is inspiring for Preston, who hopes to absorb as much knowledge as he can while in the state.
Chef and author of The Catalan Kitchen Emma Warren is coming to Launceston with Preston.
The pair will likely be found wandering City Park, chatting to stallholders and having friendly arguments over delicious ingredients.
Preston will be in Launceston from Thursday to Sunday for Festivale, before heading straight back to the mainland to continue filming for the next series of MasterChef Australia.
“An event like Festivale is such an important thing to get your southern brothers and sisters looking North, enviously,” Preston said.
The visit might seem short, but Festivale’s jam-packed itinerary means Preston will get a taste of the best of Northern Tasmania’s food and wine scene.
“The best of the region comes to you, so truly I don’t have to head out to the Bay of Fires or visit Burnie,” Preston said.
“The great joy about going anywhere isn’t the chefy stuff, it is the general love of food that you’re going to find from people on site.
“Festivale has this amazing group of food-lovers all in one place.”
But the food critic does hope to visit former MasterChef Australia finalist Ben Milbourne’s restaurant CharlotteJack.
“If I can, I really want to head to Devonport to go to Ben’s new restaurant. He is a great lad,” Preston said.
“I always find if I can combine a visit to an Australian city and a visit with contestants that really is a huge bonus.”
Milbourne shot to fame seven years ago when he featured on Masterchef Australia and opened his restaurant mid-2018.
His restaurant is nearest to the new multi-storey car park, off Best Street, which is part of stage one of the Living City urban renewal project.
Preston is working in collaboration with Stillwater executive chef Craig Will and his team to design a lunch menu highlighting Tasmanian produce as part of Festivale. Held at Stillwater from midday to 3pm on February 1, each course of the sold-out lunch will be paired with a matching glass of Goaty Hill wine.