The Sydney Food Festival

Posted by Fuchsia on November 03, 2009
Chinese cuisine, Cooking, Events

I’m finally back in London after a crazy month’s travelling: first to Sydney for its International Food Festival, then to Singapore for a food and wine conference, then to Hong Kong and, at the end, Barcelona!

The Sydney food festival was a gathering of chefs and food-writers from all over Australia, Asia, and further afield, including Tetsuya Wakuda, Peter Gordon, David Thomson, Kylie Kwong, Neil Perry and Alvin Leung. The photograph on the left, taken at the opening night of the World Chef’s Showcase, was taken by Marco del Grande of the Sydney Morning Herald.

I was in Sydney to give a couple of presentations at the festival, one on my own (Sichuanese home cooking and a slide show of Chinese food images), and then one with the brilliant Chengdu chef Yu Bo, who you can read about in the ‘rubber factor’ chapter of my Shark’s Fin book. Yu Bo and his wife Dai Shuang wowed the audience, as I knew they would, with a display of their incredible Sichuanese delicacies. You can see a video of Dai Shuang making tiny hedgehog buns here – each quill is cut with nail scissors, and each hedgehog has about 137 quills!

I was amused to find myself speaking almost as much Mandarin in Sydney as I did English – partly with Yu Bo and Dai Shuang, and partly because the city seemed to be full of Chinese people, driving taxis, working in shops and hotels and restaurants. Of course the Chinese and broader Asian influence has a profound influence on the local food culture. I’ll be writing something about this, so do watch this space…

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1 Comment to The Sydney Food Festival

Andrew
6 January 2010

Hi Fuchsia
Having remained very interested in China and SE Asia since my first vist there in Jan 2004 and many times every year after that I believe the Mango pancake turned up in Sydney from about the late 90s. ( there are also Durian pancakes now ! )
But I guess we really need to ask the propietors and chefs in Sydney who pepare the Yum Cha. I’ll do some more research for you.
Yum Cha in Australia has been driven by Cantonese migrants to Australia. As you know Yum Cha is an ”institution” in HK and in every SE Asian city where there is a big Cantonese population eg Malaysia.

I have eaten Yum Cha in every major city of SE Asia including Jakarata, Kuala Lumpur and Sinagpore and mango pancakes could be from there !

The variety of Dim Sum in Sydney is just as good or better than HK in my experience so my guess is that Sydney Dim Sum chefs are not just from HK but Malaysia and other SE asian countries too.

Cantonese have been coming to Australia since the 1850s but I believe Yum Cha first appeared in Sydney in the late 1970s or early 1980s with the arrival of a new wave of immigrants from HK after the relaxation of the immigration rules for Asians to Australia since the 1970s. ( end of the so called ”white Australia policy”… 2 Wongs dont make a white ! )

I beleve Sydneys population is now almost 10% ethnic Chinese with the biggest group now from the PRC.
There are Chinese immigrants in Australia from all the SE Asian countries with large ethnic Chinese populations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and they have brought all their regional and regional Chinese cuisines with them. It makes for very exciting Asian eating options in our cities now.
Maybe the Mango pancake originated in one of the SE ASian countries such as Malaysia.

We now have at least 6-8 large ”Chinatown” areas in Sydney and numerous Chinese daily newspapers. All the suburbs seems to have Chinese grocers.
One area is now called Xiao-Shanghai and is home to many good Shanghaianese restuarants.

Hope you can visit Sydney again some time.

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