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Dig into Canberra Good Food Month 2021

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COVID may have wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry, but as venues were forced to think outside the box, it also created some amazing new offerings.

Like how you can now dine on some of the best food in town, at home in your PJs, thanks to new takeaway options.

For Alanna Sapwell, former head chef of Arc Dining (Brisbane) and Saint Peter (Sydney), COVID led to the creation of pop-up Esmay, which moved into waterfront restaurant Wasabi in Noosa in July 2020.

“It was created for staff and customers to have a space to brush off the year and just have fun with some playful, delicious food and wine,” says Alanna.

“It started as a three-month takeover of the stunning waterfront Wasabi where guests were treated to a daily changing menu starting off hyper-seasonal snacks.”

One of the great things about pop-ups is their ability to travel and pop up elsewhere, and this March, Esmay is doing just that, and coming to Canberra as part of Canberra Good Food Month.

Alanna is teaming up with fellow chef Analiese Gregory (who recently departed Hobart’s two-hatter, Franklin) for two delicious events at Bar Rochford on Sunday 28 March. There are lunch sittings from midday, and dinner sittings from 6.30 pm, and tickets include multiple courses with matched wine.

Alanna Sapwell. Credit: Darcy Starr.

In a similar vein to the Esmay’s previous pop-up, expect an array of delicious, hyper-seasonal snacks, and Alanna and Analiese will be working closely with Bar Rochford’s suppliers and organic farmers to bring it all together (there may even be an appearance of Analiese’s renowned abalone skewers).

Analise Gregory. Credit: supplied.

And that’s just the beginning of Canberra Good Food Month for 2021. While the Canberra Night Noodle Markets sadly won’t make an appearance at this year’s Enlighten Festival due to COVID restrictions, there’s a smorgasbord of other events to sink your teeth into.

A Rockpool spread.

On Tuesday 23 March, put your knowledge of food, drinks and Australia’s dining history to the test at The Good Weekend Quiz: Live, which is coming to Canberra for the very first time.

It’s on at the beautiful lakeside spot The Boat House, and they’re also bringing in Rockpool Bar & Grill Executive Chef, Corey Costelloe to create a meal fit for the occasion.

Monster. Credit Zachary Griffith.

And on Monday 29 March, a talented line up of young local chefs will unite to put on a fine vegetarian spread at Ovolo Nishi’s Monster Kitchen & Bar under the guidance of acclaimed Michelin-starred Executive Chef, Paul Wilson.

Feeling peckish for a bit more? The Friends of Good Food Month event series will showcase the very best in drink and dine across the ACT region through a range of bespoke dining experiences.

Like an indulgent four or eight-course Friday lunch at Pilot, a special seven-course premium seafood menu at Raku, a cooking masterclass with Chef of the Year ACT 2020 at Daana, or dig into the Italian feel-good dish of slow-cooked lamb shank with pan-fried potato gnocchi at Agostini’s, to name just a few.

For the full program, and to buy tickets, head to goodfoodmonth.com/canberra.


What: Canberra Good Food Month 2021
When: Throughout March
Where: Various venues.
Tickets: Go on sale 10 am Thursday 25 February. Presenting Partner Citi is offering their customers a 20% discount on feature event tickets when customers pay with a Citi card.
Website: For the full program and tickets, see goodfoodmonth.com/canberra


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