Tasting Australia Day 4

Brand new day and a brand new adventure was ready for me at Tasting Australia on Wednesday 3rd May. This morning I arrived to a bustling office with information about the Glasshouse Dinner and Marco Pierre White’s generous gesture in signing all the books of the attendees (that’s over 150 guests!).

Perhaps he was preparing himself for this evening’s showcase, in which he would be interviewed by Fool Magazine’s Lotta and Per-Anders Jorgensen at the Chef’s Journey in Town Square, followed by a ‘White Heat’ book signing in the Living Library.

Yi was finally back in the office today, after spending the weekend in the Barossa for Maggie Beer’s Tribute Dinner and the Marco Pierre White Dinner at FINO in Seppeltsfield. I got the inside scoop on the amazing dishes, how lovely the guests and festival stars were, the beautiful scenery, and I snapped up an extra menu of what was served at FINO. Yi sadly didn’t get any photos (boo!) because she was so busy rolling up her sleeves and soaking up the moment.

Maddie and I headed over to Town Square at 5pm to prepare for the Chefs Journey with Alex Herbert, Analiese Gregory and Marco Pierre White. The stage was set up for a panel of three, with the Jorgensen’s interviewing the chefs. Analiese was to go first, followed by Alex, and finally Marco.

As much as I would have enjoyed listening to their stories, it was time to get to work and set-up for the book signing in the Living Library. Elle came over to discuss the procedure for the evening and we got to work setting up the bollards for two individual cues; one for priority ticket holders and another for secondary ticket holders. As it turns out, by purchasing a MPW book from the Living Library during Tasting Australia, a priority cue ticket would be given to allow first preference when getting it signed this evening. Additionally, other guests would receive tickets in a colour coded format from yellow, blue, green, and red; and they would be attended to sequentially in the second cue.

I’ll admit, I did fear for my life a little, as I was setting up. I could foresee a stampede of fans racing towards the shipping container we were guarding, holding the precious celebrity chef. The crowd had gotten quite large for Marco’s Chef Journey Interview, and people were eager to cue before it was over; missing some juicy gossip as the author of White Heat disclosed his family history of chefing and evolution in the industry over the years.

I was pleasantly surprised when the guests cues formally, and with tranquillity. Despite the cold settling in past 7pm, everyone was relaxed and content to wait for their turn. I counted almost 90 people in the priority line which began to move solidly within the hour. The Living Library team set up a desk between the cues and consequently sold out of all MPW merchandise, which caused the priority cue to grow as people became aware of the exclusive tickets available with their purchases.

Managing the secondary cue was pleasant as the cheery Marco fan at the front happily chatted about her following of the star and her excitement to be attending Marco’s Kitchen at the Adelaide Casino the following day. I excitedly shared stories about Marco’s delight in Adelaide and how he had hoped to extend his stay here. Her partner behind her was also enthusiastic about meeting him. I was so happy when the priority cue diminished and they were swiftly ushered into the Living Library to meet their legend live. Events like these really get you in touch with community, and it is a pleasure to hear their passions and pursuits, and being part of having them actualized. I was delighted to meet them both. I’m sure they had a wonderful time at the lunch the following day.

With insider knowledge, I had purchased a book in advance, so after dismantling the bollards, collating the tickets, and removing the signage. I joined the end of the cue to get my copy of White Heat signed as a gift to my wonderful Bar Mercato manager. As I skipped inside I was stopped by Verrity who opened the book to the correct page and asked me what my name was. Fearful there might be a mistake, I slyly said “Its Maria” which she whispered to Marco, behind her, while passing on the book. He was seated at a small table with a bottle of wine and half full glass of red. In his glasses, his limbering frame, covered in a classic grandpa cardigan, hunched over the book he began scribbling away.

I watched wide-eyed with wonder, and was taken back when he looked up and said:

“Maria, how are you my dear?”.

“Well, thanks, how are, urm, about you?” I stammered, feeling embarrassed and nervous that I was addressed.

He continued to scribble as Lucy appeared next to me and asked if I’d like to take a photo. I gleefully handed over my phone and threw my arm around his shoulders as he held up the book; giving that classic brooding stare, I’m sure you have seen everywhere, and Lucy snapped away.

He handed the book back to me and I thanking him, to which he replied, in that smooth strong accent, “You’re very welcome my dear”. I kissed him on the cheek and skipped out, bumping into Elle. “How was it?” she grinned. Surreal was the only word I had.

The crowd dispersed at that point, I was happily hugging my prize as Maddie cam over and said the event was over, time to head home. I grabbed my beanie and jumped on the bus. I couldn’t wait to see the look on Maria’s face when I handed this book to her tomorrow!


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