Flames have always been a central feature of Winter Feast, the food component of Hobart's annual Dark Mofo winter festival, but according to the Feast's food curator Jo Cook, there's fire and then there's fire.
"Every year Leigh Carmichael [creative director of Dark Mofo] comes to me and says: 'more fire, we need more fire'," she says. "And I think we're really going to give him what he wants this year - it's going to be pretty spectacular."
Central to the Feast, which is held on Hobart's waterfront, will be a large firepit glowing with the charcoal that Lennox Hastie, from Sydney's Firedoor, will be making in a pizza oven from cherry wood, apple wood, old wine barrels and grape vines.
Hastie is teaming up with Mona executive chef Vince Trim who is bringing his Heavy Metal Kitchen (a collection of wood-fired cooking equipment that includes a parilla and a "wall of fire" where whole beasts are cooked) to the Princes Wharf. Hastie and Trim will be using the firepit to cook a couple of dishes each night, one based around local shellfish, the other around local vegetables.
Cook says that the Feast this year is all about "eating new food".
"We want people to try something different, something unique to the Feast that you can't get anywhere else."
One of the ways she's achieving this is via the Winter Feast Co-Labs where she's hooked up a local chef and local business with a chef from another state.
"It's a great way to create new food," she says. "The locals know what food's available and what's in season right now, while the visiting chefs bring ideas from other places."
Each of the Co-Labs has its own charcoal barbecue to cook "new street food".
Melbourne chef Jerry Mai (Phò Nom), for example, is teaming up with Bruny Island Food's Ross O'Meara and local rice paper roll joint Mint, to create a char siu bao taco with lemongrass and chilli marinated pork caramelised over the charcoal and stuffed into the 'taco' with fresh herbs and chilli sauce.
Around 60 stallholders will also be on hand to push Tassie produce, and there's also a whiskey bar and a gin bar dispensing the good local distilled stuff.
Most of the dishes at Winter Feast will be priced around $10, to keep the event "affordable and non-elite".
"There's seriously something for everyone," Cook says. "We have a lot of vegan and vegetarian food and a lot - a lot - of meat."
There'll also be music, wine and, it seems, a hell of a lot of fire.
City of Hobart Dark Mofo Winter Feast, 4pm-10pm June 15-19, Princes Wharf 1, Hobart, Tas, darkmofo.net.au
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