In Sydney, October is known as Good Food Month. I should say it’s marketed as Good Food Month. That’s a problem for me right there. Why should only one month be dedicated to good food and the other 11 relegated to not good food? This, is indicative of the greater malaise that affects Sydney in general, the feeling that food just isn’t that important. Of course, there’s plenty of things more important than food. In fact, I can name 2 in total! Oxygen and water. Without food, you die. It’s not a want, it’s a need. Get your priorities right!

The Sydney Morning Herald is the major newspaper here and they are the ones responsible for Crave, the Sydney International Food Festival. During October, they organise a whole bunch of activities. The Night Noodle Markets are a feature event, where a whole bunch of decent and not so decent Asian restaurants set up grills and bbqs in Hyde Park in the city and all and sundry come down for some chow. Then there’s also the World Chef Showcase, where a buncha guys come down for a talk and demo and some/most of em cook at comparable restaurants. Last year, Wylie Dufresne appeared at Bentley and Rene Redzepi was at the Opera House chatting away about foraging. This year, it’s mostly locals plus some chefs from South America plus the Davids: David Chang, David Leibovitz, David Tanis. Less illustrious but still something. Chang is about to open a branch of Momofuku at Star City soon so that’s something I’m looking forward to personally.

Another major event last year was Breakfast On The Bridge, which has sadly become Breakfast On The Beach this year, with the swopping of the harbour Bridge for Bondi Beach. Last year, they actually closed down the harbour bridge for half a day, laid out astro turf on the bridge and invited people who won a ballot to have a picnic on the bridge, which is pretty awesome and epic. This year, they will spend nothing and tell people to go to Bondi, which is uber lame.

For the NNM this year, they’ve got Din Tai Fung, Chat Thai, Longrain and Mamak to name a few. It’s probably gonna be sub par compared to if you went to the regular restaurant but you get to stand in line for a few hours and eat with takeaway utensils whilst the flies come at you at night. They also put up fairy lights in the trees so you can’t see the star anise as you accidentally create saliva overload on yourself.

I suppose I like some of the events that are included in the festival, it’s just the extras that I don’t really like. There’s always some special el cheapo menus done by typically expensive restaurants. I just don’t get why you’d want to dumb down your food to try to appeal to an audience that doesn’t wanna give a shit in the first place. Also, a lot of these “events” hardly ever feel like they’re a part of the festival anyway, sequestered away in individual restaurants. I suppose that’s my real criticism of the festival in general, that it just feels a little closed off at times and some of the stuff just feels like the same old same old.

The worst bits are the fresh food markets. These never feel authentic nor is there anything much worthwhile there. A lot of the stuff is just flavored olive oil from wherever. Or below average type chocolates/chilli sauce/pastries… The festival food markets also simply incorporate existing ones into the thing but nothing really changes. The growers market is alright but it’s already a monthly thing. The shitty “organic” markets in random locations are the worst, the ones with the same stalls no matter which suburb and selling just straight up crap produce. The worst one was this one at the Ivy complex laneway, which had like 5 stalls of shit and no one at all.

I suppose at the end of the day, I’d much rather good food invaded Sydney perennially rather than one month a year. Where food markets sell good food and people eat good food. If you haven’t got the stuff to begin with, then don’t bother, it just looks shitty. I guess it’s not easy to organise massive events that feel awesome and all but maybe just keep it simple and reduce the fluff is what I’m sayin’.

Here’s some suggestions.

  • Do a Sydney walk in walk out showcase gallery in the city, where you have video installations, brochures, info, native food. Just snapshot Sydney food in an instant and dump it into a pop up museum. Have an exhibit on the Quay Snow Egg or on Pepperberries or whatever. Educate people.
  • Hold an actual festival. Make a massive tent complex thing for a week where everyone can come in and eat and see and smell and taste everything under the sun. Have a band or bands playing. In London, there’s a food market which recently had a pop up restaurant called Ridley’s* which “traded food for food”. *via IHT.
  • Do massive art X food things. Like get some guy to spraypaint the opera house with choc velvet or something ridiculous and then have kids lick it up and get listeria.
  • Involve people outside the food industry as well. Like museums and even Sydney Transport. Then it might feel like it’s a real citywide venture as opposed to a clique thing.
  • Make it good. Sub par shit is just a waste of time and effort. The regular stuff is always there so if you’re going to hold any events, make it worthwhile.
If any of this shit pops up 2012, I demand that I get a free pass to everything and you help me open my restaurant.