It is a universally acknowledged truth that Visa Wellington on a Plate is the best thing since sliced bread (if that bread were to be crafted into a whitebait fritter and served by a food truck on the Wellington waterfront).
I was lucky enough to be invited by the opening night, along with the most talented of Wellington Foodies. We were treated to food and treats galore, and an amazing atmosphere, supported by everyone in the industry.
As you arrived Shed 6 was completely transformed into a foodie wonderland, lit with the colours themed for this years WOAP, and decorated with fancy beakers of jelly. I was greeted warmly and ushered in to hear the speeches before getting to tuck in and chat (true fact - while I did fit in a few beers, a wine and an ice cream, I ate not one morsel of food - serves me right for coming late, but a girl gotta work to pay the bills).
What is Welly on a Plate?
Wellington on a Plate (or WOAP) for those who maybe have recently arrived in the Capital (or live under a seal at red rocks) is two weeks every year when Wellington jumps into action during the darkest months. A wide selection of local restaurants, suppliers and cafes put on their creative thinking hats and offer the public marvelous events to attend, treats to try and meals to eat at excellent prices. It is a truly international standard foodie festival!
The festival is divided into four parts.
First, the Festival events. Restaurateurs and suppliers go to town and offer up a wonderful range of events. This year my pick is 'Hops and Chops' on 18 August where beer, meat chops and cars meet at Shed 1, styled by the fabulous Yvette Edwards (I attended her flower making class which was incredible. You can ready about it here). I am also thinking about booking for 'A Pig of a Day' in Longbush Farm, Gladstone and then Greytown with La Porcetta about how to cure pancetta. Oink Oink! From August 13 - 14. Finally on the 24 April I am seriously stoked about the event 'All Taste, no waste' at Prefab. This is an awesome collab with Kaibosh Food rescue, who y'all know I already volunteer for and love (they promote redistributing food that is not used by supermarkets and markets and cafes at the end of the day).
Also Yvette Edwards styled the stunning front cover of this year Wellington on a Plate programme. Don't forget to pick up a hard copy and admire her incredible work!!
The second part is all about dining out around the city and trying new cafes and restaurants. There are 136!! 136!! I will be looking out for the Hillside event (I love their wonderful free-range approach to cooking!), Ombra (I studied Italian at University and since visiting in 2009 fell completely for the cuisine) and Ortega Fishshack (GET IN MY BELLY!).
For the third part, Burger Wellington, all bets are off! You will find me here, there, and everywhere eating burgers for Africa. Don't Stop Me NOW! You can find out more about Burger Wellington here. This is a great thing to do if you are a newbie for WOAP or just don't want to spend very much money. Also, the Burger on a Plate competition (where restaurants face off for the chance to be crowned 'Burger Wellington Burger') provides a sense of community, particularly if you want to get involved using the #wellyonaplate or #woap on Instagram or Twitter. Speaking of social media, you can follow @Wellyonaplate on Instagram.
I will def be at Burger Liquor. Just sayin'.
If you just want a taster of the action (in a liquid manner) hit up the best Cocktail bars in the city for Cocktail Wellington. You can vote for your favourite cocktail if you want! Check here for details about how to.
For one - I will be hanging around The Hangin Ditch bar on Leeds Street - look for the seedy lady with a purple mini cooper cardigan hiccuping over too many glace cherries!
Over the evening, I saw some familiar faces, or backs of heads. I saw my friend Sean who makes Steel Press Cider (I have my money on those guys to be one of the break out producers for this years WOAP), lovely Stacey Walsh from Little Beer Quarter and Basque, Jax Wales from Libertine Teas, Sean Golding from the ever epic Golding's Freedive and Yvette Edwards and Mr Edwards! Hurrah! I also briefly waved at my friend Beth Brash.
While I didn't get to speak to Beth, I wish I had had the chance. She was one of my blogging role models with her former blog 'Eat and Greet'. She is doing a stella job at running Beervana and 2016 is going to be bigger than ever. So proud of that girl! She's broken to glass ceiling for beer lovin' girls. Beervana last year was so much fun I would highly recommend it!
So there you have it! Wellington on a Plate's opening night - in a nutshell!
While I was there, I was lucky enough to see friends and familiar face from all around Wellington. I also made some new pals, including the gorgeous India, an Aucklander who does digital marketing for the fabulous Dish magazine. "Ahhhh I love Wellington so much" she sighed. "I wish I got to be here more." Rumor has it that the next morning she ordered around half the menu at Nikau Cafe.
I also met the frightfully fabulous WAOP media babe Georgia Munn, who persuaded me to consume the dreaded jelly. I just am not a jelly girl - never have been, never will. I forgive you Georgia. But never again.