After a big year in 2018, Festivale favourite Karen Martini is back once again to share her culinary prowess with Launceston.
Martini will join the lineup of Chefs in Action, which will also feature Hotel Grand Chancellor executive chef Elliot Chugg, Josef Chromy Restaurant executive chef Nick Raitt, Terrace Restaurant demi chef Adam Lockheart, Grain of the Silos head chef Thomas Pirker, Food of the Spanish Islands author Emma Warren and a cheese-making session with The Tasmanian Food Co.
Martini had a chat to The Examiner about her plans for the festival this year.
KW: What brought you back to Festivale this year?
KM: I think the vibe that you guys have going on down there at the Festivale festival was really good.
It was great weather, I met tons of people, and tasted some great wine and cheese and produce. I loved visiting the Harvest Market.
It is a sleepy little town but there is a lot going on if you scratch the surface I think, and it's a good place to visit.
KW: What have you got planned for your two appearances?
KM: With the lunch at Stillwater, because I was there about two years ago I've really mixed things up and I'm really pushing myself out of my own comfort zone.
It's very interesting. I'm doing a Thai-inspired banquet lunch. I cook a lot of Thai food at home - not professionally - but I do write a lot of recipes for people to cook Thai inspired dishes.
Some of them are dishes that I've never really done outside of my own house before, and others are just really well known - like the duck red curry that I make a lot.
Hopefully, people really enjoy it and see another side of my cooking personality that's not from the Mediterranean.
My demonstration is Thai and Vietnamese inspired as well, so everyone can get a little taste and a look in because one of those dishes I'm cooking at the lunch I'm demonstrating on Saturday.
KW: How did it feel to see the guest chef lunch sell out so quickly?
KM: They didn't even know what I was cooking! It's so funny. I hope they're not disappointed because I'm taking them in such a different direction.
I think there at Stillwater they wanted to seat a whole lot more people because tickets were snapped up so quickly.
KW: Do you often get inspired by local produce?
KM: We've left some of it open, and I'll go to the market on Saturday morning and then take that along to the demonstration.
Last time I did end up talking about quite a few things that I hadn't seen before, like some herbs or fresh wasabi. There are some really great things on hand, and people need to be a bit more experimental.
If I get to play with something and hopefully inspire someone else, I've done my job and people can enjoy what's being supplied and grown around them a little better.
KW: Do you plan to check out anything else while you're here?
KM: I think I've got a spare night on Thursday night, so I'll have to look into where I'll be eating. I'm bringing my assistant, Emma [Warren], who's a chef who's been over a few times. I think she's doing a demonstration on Sunday. We'll probably get together and do something.
We do have a big day on Thursday prepping in the kitchen, so I don't know that I've got a lot of spare time.
We'll see what we can fit in.
The music lineup at the festival is usually really, really good, so I'm looking forward to that. I'm sure the weather will be splendid too.
I'm so looking forward to the Harvest Market. If people haven't already been and they're reading this article - they should go.
There were some delicious things - we ate broths and dumplings and bits and bobs and I tasted cheese samples I hadn't had before.
If I'm visiting a new place, that's where I always head. I go to some sort of market, and then I make my way around the community from there. That applies to anywhere in the world.
- Festivale will run January 31 to February 2 at City Park, Launceston. For more information and for tickets, visit festivale.com.au.