New Zealand's Master Chefs Create Crafty Meals At F.A.W.C. Festival

As the first Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C.) continues in Hawke's Bay in northeastern New Zealand, the country's top chefs and wine makers are crafting creative food and wine pairings at dozens of intimate chef dinners, cooking demonstrations, and wine tastings.

F.A.W.C.'s second day kicked off with a breakfast prepared by farmer Ian Thomas and chef Kent Baddeley, known to Kiwis as Farmer Dan, at the Electrolux Kitchen at Craggy Range winery. The duo dished about egg cooking tips while preparing a breakfast of scrambled ostrich eggs (two of the giant eggs fed the crowd of 44 diners) and a brioche-style tortilla stuffed with quail egg, cold-smoked Berkshire pork, and danbo cheese topped with a chocolate and smoked chipotle rock surrounded by a smattering of diced asparagus pickled in saffron and rice wine vinegar.

A wine tour with tastings and canapés at Wine and Dine in the Sacred Vines at Sacred Hill vineyards attracted a busload of wine enthusiasts who sampled sauvignon blanc accompanied by salmon and caviar canapés.

The popular pop-up Oyster Saloon rolled into town serving fresh oysters from its silver food truck. The Oyster Saloon prepared five types of oysters plucked from Te Matuku Bay, the Clevedon Coast, Mahurangi, Tio Point, and Stewart Island and then shucked them onsite before serving them natural with a wedge of lemon or beer battered.

"They all have their own terroir about them," said Rachel Taulelei, owner and master shucker of the Oyster Saloon.

Saturday evening concluded with an intimate MasterChef dinner at Black Barn Riverside Lodges. The winners of seasons one to three of MasterChef New Zealand prepared a three-course meal for 25 guests, cooking together for the first time. Season three winner Nadia Lim prepared a duck appetizer, season one winner Brett McGregor made a roasted lamb with vegetables, and season two winner Chelsea Winter made a chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet.

Sunday's highlights included the Locavore Lunch at the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market and the Wheely Glassy Hawke's Bay Trails Wineries Ride Launch. At the Locavore Lunch, the three MasterChef winners were joined by three other local chefs who were each assigned a table of diners and given a box with three mystery ingredients. Once the ingredients were revealed, each chef consulted with his or her table of 10 to decide what to make for lunch based on the box's ingredients and items available in the farmers' market. Each table was given NZ$150 (US$124) and 30 minutes to forage in the market for ingredients. After assembling all the ingredients, participants helped each chef cook the meal.

At Wheely Glassy, wine lovers cycled through the vineyards of Gimblett Gravels and the Bridge Pa Triangle, stopping for tastings along the way at Sileni Estates and Trinity Hill.

F.A.W.C. is a food and wine festival that runs through Nov. 11 and showcases New Zealand's best wines paired with regional cuisine like lamb, venison, and oysters. Remaining F.A.W.C. events include a syrah symposium at Advintage on Thursday, It's All in the Coffees Origin at Adam and Eva's on Friday, homage to great barbecue at Trinity Hill winery on Saturday, and Seafood Odyssey at The Thirsty Whale Bar & Restaurant. Tickets for individual events are available on the F.A.W.C. website.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.