Crave Sydney — the Sydney Morning Herald's annual international food festival — lasts for the whole month of October, and spreads throughout the Australian metropolis and into the surrounding suburbs and farmlands of New South Wales. The festivities range from sunrise breakfasts on Bondi Beach to special dinners around the city cooked by imported culinary stars like Italian three-star chef Massimo Bottura, Roman pizza king Gabriele Bonci, Jordi Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Catalonia (hailed as the second best restaurant in the world), Australian-born Thai food maven David Thompson, Sardinian chef Roberto Petza, and Christina Tosi of the Momofuku empire — an outpost of which, Momofuku Seiobo, opened in Sydney earlier this year. Australian stars like Mark Best, Matt Moran, Colin Fassindge, and Martin Benn showed their stuff too.
In a food series more accessible to the average citizen, for 13 nights, a portion of Hyde Park, in central Sydney, is taken over by a night noodle market — a collection of hawker stands dispensing dumplings, noodles, and more, plus three bars and pretty much nonstop entertainment. The fare covers many food styles, as the names of some of the participants will suggest: Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine, Japancake Okonomiyaki, Chat Thai, Himalayan Yummy Kitchen, Viet Yum, Umi Sushi, and Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant. There are also food photography exhibitions, special brunch and lunch programs around the city, rural picnics and wine-tasting parties, barbecue contests, pub and garden tours, and more. There will be about 500 events in all, and if last year's Crave is any indication, something like 800,000 people will enjoy various aspects of the celebration.
Massimo Bottura at Crave Sydney. Photo by Dave Cheng.
The weekend of October 6 and 7 was an early centerpiece to the goings-on, with a sprawling grower's market on Saturday at Pyrmont Bay Park, enlivened by food stands from some of the city's top restaurants (among them Billy Kwong and Fish Face), and a series of panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and onstage "conversations" at the Sydney Convention Center under the overall heading of World Chef Showcase.
Jonathan Gold made a last-minute journey from Los Angeles to fill in for Ruth Reichl (kept home by family matters) in a one-on-one called "Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask a Food Critic." Three prominent food photographers shared some of their techniques. Australian food icon Maggie Beer took part in a panel on the place of supermarkets in the country's food life. (She astonished the audience by revealing that Australia's truth-in-labeling authorities refuse to let her label her olives, grown on her Barossa farm, preserved with her own Barossa vinegar, as "produce of Australia" — because the glass jars they're packed in are made in Thailand.)