Visa Wellington On a Plate has revealed its biggest banquet ever, introducing a few new flavours to its popular menu for 2012.
Festival Co-director Sarah Meikle says the schedule of 109 DINE Wellington menus, 111 Festival Events and 64 Burger Wellington entries promises to "make your mouth water and your mind boggle".
Returning for its third course, naming rights sponsor Visa says it is constantly impressed with the creativity and diversity of the Wellington hospitality scene.
"The festival itself has expanded significantly since our first year of sponsorship and the calibre of events and the restaurants taking part are truly world-class. We look forward to supporting the festival as it continues to grow in years to come," says Sean Preston, Visa's New Zealand Country Manager.
This year sees the introduction of the new Visa Wellington On a Plate Award, which will see a panel of judges find the ultimate Wellington menu from 44 entries.
"The focus on local flavours is what makes Visa Wellington On a Plate truly Wellington and sets it apart from any other culinary festival or event," Ms Meikle says. "The Visa Wellington On a Plate Award will recognise the DINE Wellington menu that best presents the capital of cool on a plate – one that combines chef creativity with 'gate to plate' menu design. The winner will be announced in the first week of the festival so punters have an opportunity to get a taste themselves."
Grow Wellington Food & Beverage Sector Manager Kate Jamieson, who also co-directs the festival, says the region's restaurants have taken the inclusion and showcasing of local product in their DINE Wellington menus to a whole new level this year.
"It's exciting to see what incredible dishes the chefs have come up with – things like Schoc white chocolate and Soprano Limoncello fondue at Beach Babylon and Lighthouse Gin-soaked salmon gravlax with Prana baby leaves and Zany Zeus smoked yoghurt at Gusto Bistro."
The 2012 festival programme sees major events across each of the three weekends. Wellington Fisher &Paykel MasterClass kicks things off with the ultimate culinary experience for any self respecting foodie on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August. The middle weekend will see craft beer fans hopping to Westpac Stadium for Beervana (Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August)and the New Zealand Chocolate Festival ends things on a sweet note from Friday 24 – Sunday 26 August. The final weekend also sees Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand open its doors for a sneak preview with a series of hands-on workshops, Culinary Exchanges and an Open Day.MasterClass and Beervana tickets are available for purchase through ticketek.co.nz, while New Zealand Chocolate Festival passes are available at chocolatefestival.co.nz. All other event bookings are made through VisaWellingtonOnaPlate.com