Newcastle Food Month is set to put the city on Australia's food map.
Throughout April there will be masterclasses; seasonal lunches and dinners; seafood, noodle, and pork and cider festivals; meet the maker events; and even a collaboration between Newcastle Music Festival and FogHorn Brewhouse in the form of an operatic amuse-bouche.
So far 65 restaurants, cafes and pubs in Newcastle have signed up for "Plate Date" and will each create a special Newcastle Food Month dish, paired with a drink, for just $25. And then there's the McDonald Jones Stadium drive-through lunch every Thursday in April between 11.30am and 1.30pm. On the menu will be diner classics like hot dogs, burgers, a Southern brisket bowl and chilli corn on the cob.
There are too many tasty treats on offer to list here. Go to Newcastle Food Month's website (newcastlefoodmonth.com.au) to view the event calendar and book your tickets. Grab a cuppa first. There's so much to see and do it might take you a while.
For organisers Gus and Louise Maher, of Hunter Valley Events and Newcastle Events, Newcastle Food Month is the realisation of a long-held foodie dream for the city they call home.
"Newcastle is ready for this," Gus Maher said.
"Our food scene keeps on evolving and re-inventing itself in a quality way that is typically Newcastle, with our own brand and provenance. While we don't need a lot of reasons to head out for brunch, lunch or dinner in our city, we will provide a lot more motivation to do just that."
For the past five months - since the City of Newcastle approved their application for a Special Business Rates grant - the Mahers have been busy drumming up support for Newcastle Food Month.
"Our vision works on a couple of levels," he said. "One is to drive Novocastrians into restaurants, cafes and venues, supporting an industry that creates so many jobs and stimulates the economy through so many third-party businesses.
"We also want to develop Newcastle Food Month into an annual event that in years to come rivals any regional food festival in Australia. Finally, there's the overall aim of raising the profile of the Newcastle food scene and giving our restaurateurs and chefs the profile and accolades they so richly deserve."
Maher is keeping Newcastle Food Month's signature event close to his chest - for now.
"Think a stylish and elegant pop-up dinner that has been in more than 80 cities around the world, but never Newcastle. We now have the licence and in the coming days will be able to make an announcement.
"Stand by Newcastle."
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