What to expect at Plate Up Ballarat in 2019

Published on April 18 2019.

Photo: Courtesy of Plate Up Ballarat

Ballarat’s annual celebration of the region’s food and wine, Plate Up Ballarat, returns this May, with more than 50 events happening throughout the month. Each event supports at least three local producers, meaning the festival and its attendees support over 100 local producers across western Victoria. Your biggest choice mightn’t be which events to go to, but which ones you have to leave out of your calendar for next month. Luckily, Festival Director Kate Davis is here to help with her top picks of the program.

What’s new and exciting in 2019?
Continuing our theme of sustainability, this year we introduce Plant Up Ballarat where venues and events will focus on plant-based eating and the link between nutrition and wellness.

Sometimes though, food is just about comfort and there’s nothing more comforting than a classic toastie. Be prepared for some creative spins on old classics as part of Toast of Ballarat – and keep an eye out for the official toastie mascot designed by Ballarat’s own street artist in residence Travis Price.

This year, in support of men’s mental health, we’re also hosting Ballarat Blokes Who Bake. If you’re a bloke who loves to bake (or know of one), register your interest to be part of the showcase of baked goods.

What event will be the ‘you should have been there’ moment of the program?
Cafe Sidra’s Barry v Kelly evening. Owners Belinda Brooksby and Anthony Penhall know how to put on a show and make their guests feel right at home. This will be a night of storytelling and music as performers Bushwahzee present the tale of Ned Kelly and the judge who hanged him, with a performance at the iconic Learmonth Art Hall followed by music, local produce, wine, cider and beer next door at Sidra.

What’s an absolute bargain?
Definitely the Bottomless Lunch showcasing the region’s finest produce, suppliers and wine at Freight Bar and Restaurant. For $60 you get free-flowing wines and all the charcuterie you can handle in one-and-a-half hours.

Give us your three most interesting or unusual events of the program.
Vino Veloce - Local Heroes is a ‘meet your maker, speed-dating’ event, where small groups spend ten minutes with a local winemaker or brewer, including Attwoods Wines, Mitchell Harris Wines, Dog Rock Wines, Blue Pyrenees Estate, Salt Kitchen Charcuterie and Spring Creek Organics. You also get tastings of their different wines, ciders and beers and an insight into some of the stories behind the products. Substantial tasty matched morsels are served at each station.

Hip Hop Yoga, Comedy and Pizza at Housey Housey is a night of yoga backed with beats spun by DJ Mac Daddy and comedy from David Quirk, Australian's funniest vegan enthusiast, followed by cocktails and vegan pizzas.

At The Healthy Hub - Roots of Wellness, guests will get a crash-course in using food and other tactics to create long-term wellness. Fresh and nutritious food will be served, there’ll be cooking demonstrations and lifestyle tips offered, plus workshops on emotional and environmental tools to promote wellness. And beautiful autumn produce will be in the spotlight.

Is there an event that’s particularly close to your heart?
I really love the Ballarat Foundation’s Food for Thought: Little Italy event. Community is everything to me and this event is the epitome of community spirit. Ballarat's village of corporate volunteers have banded together to learn how to create traditional Italian dishes, guided by Ballarat's leading chefs. Using rescued local ingredients, the Ballarat Foundation team will highlight how imagination and resourcefulness can create an Italian banquet. This event will also raise money and awareness for food insecurity in Ballarat and our surrounding areas.

What event should people go to for hands-on fun?
For the adults, hands down, it’s the Pimp your Oven workshops with Sara Kittelty, the cake queen of Ballarat. Kittelty's at the Gallery is located in the Art Gallery of Ballarat and will host Sara’s hands-on workshops where she will show you her tips and tricks to baking delicious homemade cakes.

For the kids there are a few hands-on events to choose from, including creating a healthy Japanese bento lunch box, the baking workshop where they’ll make Mother’s Day treats, and the gardening workshop for kids at Food is Free, where fun with the worm farm, planting seedlings and more will take place.

Which event screams Ballarat?
On Saturday night during Ballarat Heritage Weekend, at Coffee Exchange by Mr Black guests will enjoy carefully crafted cocktails from some of Ballarat’s best venues in the historic Ballarat Mining Exchange on Lydiard Street. Concoctions from The Lost Ones, Workshop Cafe, Moon & Mountain, Mitchell Harris Wine Bar and more will be on offer, plus something a little colder from Il Piccolo Gelato. This is an opportunity like no other to get a taste of Ballarat.

Plate Up Ballarat, 1-31 May, is on sale now. More information on the Plate Up Ballarat website.