Chef signatures and a sixteen room feast feature on the 2016 March into Merivale Festival program

Sydney’s hospitality behemoth Merivale in the midst of their biggest changes to date, with several venues opening up within the past few months and several more planned for the year ahead. It then makes sense that they make their annual March into Merivale as jam-packed as possible, and with a program that features a sixteen-room feast, a series of Chef Signatures, and a Merivale Chef Burger Challenge, it looks like they have done just that.

Over the past seven years, March into Merivale has drawn on the undeniable, respective talents of the group’s rich stock of chefs to form one of the most anticipated events on Sydney’s culinary calendar, often strung together with a unifying theme. This year, that theme is “Guilty Pleasures”, zoning in on a number of food trends, and treating the public to a diverse program of food and drink focused events, all kicking off on Wednesday 10th February with a massive launch party.

The Merivale Launch Party will once again be taking over the entire ivy and it’s surrounding laneways with pop-up stalls from Merivale staples like Mr Wong and Papi Chulo, as well as the forthcoming Queen Victoria Enmore, The Newport, and Fred’s. It’s always a packed out affair full of good drink and even better food as the chef collective come up with their best dishes to offer in exchange for tokens. Entry is $45 and includes eight food and drink tokens, with top-ups available on the night.

Every Monday during the festival will be Show & Tell night, where there will be a host of classes from the likes of Lorraine Godsmark and Villa Maria’s Josh Hammond. The program includes everything from Instagram classes by Dan Hong and Patrick Friesen to design masterclasses from Justin and Betinna Hemmes amongst others. Full details of all classes can be found on the official website (link below).

Every Tuesday of the festival will be Friends with Benefits night, where dining devotees can enjoy a number of two-course meal deals across many of Merivale’s restaurants.

Mid-week will be when most of the most exciting events take place, with every Wednesday being dedicated to a different concept, all detailed below.

Between Two Buns (17th Feb at Pailings; $45): Six Merivale Chefs will come together for a little burger challenge, tasked with coming up with their best entry, on which the public can vote.

European Laneway (24th Feb at Ash St. Laneway; $45): Stalls from Felix, Ash St, Bistrode CBD, Lorraine’s Patisserie, The Paddington, Uccello, and Pailings will feature on this returning event, which always proves to be one of the festival’s most popular. It’ll be a night under the stars, themed towards bringing out everyone’s inner European with food, wine, and entertainment.

Wok On (2nd March at Establishment; $45): Wok On is back for another year after its debut in 2015, mixing Asian food with cocktails and 90’s hip-hop, with stalls of signature dishes from Ms G’s, Mr. Wong, Sunee’s Thai Canteen, sushi e, and the soon-to-be-launched Queen Chow.

Room for One More (9th March at Establishment Hotel; $75): In what seems like Merivale’s most ambitious event in the 8 years of the festival, this Room for One More concept will see sixteen rooms of the super luxe Establishment Hotel be used to create a huge night of cocktail exploration and theatrical escapism. Everything from retro pop to French baroque will be on display as each room has their own theme, with food and drink from Palmer & Co., Hemmesphere, J&M, ivy Pool Club, Coogee Pavilion, Papi Chulo, Ms G’s, and El Loco.

Bubble with Guilt (16th March at Hemmesphere; $85): This event will be a showing of all things champagne with over 20 luxurious vintages.

In addition to the Wednesday events, each Thursday of the festival will be focusing in one (or two) Merivale Chef(s), with Chef Signature, tasking each to come up with their very best dining experience. Details are as follows.

Chopsticks & Dope Kicks (18th Feb at Ms G’s; $150): Dan Hong will bring together his sneaker obsession as he collaborates with Subtype Sneaker Freaker mag and Ms G’s Head Chef Paul Donelly to create a limited edition sneaker exhibition and curated Asian feast.

Shellfishness (25th Feb at a Secret Location; $200): Coogee Pavilion’s Jordan Toft and est’s Peter Doyle will be collaboration on this special event, curating a spectacular seafood banquet in a top-secret location.

All Pleasure, No Guilt (3rd March at est.; $300): Seven hatted Merivale Chefs will be coming together for this one, using their respective talents to create a five course, nine hatted dinner in the grand est. dining room.

A Night in Paris (10th March at Ash St. Laneway; $200): Ben Greeno of The Paddington and Nathan Johnson of Felix will be tasked for designing a long table dinner feast under the stars.

The Kitchen Table (17th March at Uccello; $200): Danielle Alvarez (Head Chef of forthcoming venue Fred’s) will be teaming with Rene Redzepi’s (yes, that’s right, the Noma Chef) wife Nadine Levy (who is a home cook and author) to create a feast with local, organic produce.

Rounding out the week will be Guilty Pleasures every Friday, bringing in DJ’s, cabaret performances, and Chandon’s Unplanned Band to celebrate the world of pop at Pailings. Entry will be $20. Then every Saturday super club Pacha will be presenting their Absolut Nights with a whole heap of DJs and producers set the perform alongside cutting edge productions.

Finally, Sunday will be Festival Day, where each week Merivale will be dishing out some of their biggest events. These include:

Sunday Sundown (6th March at Coogee Rooftop; free || at ivy pool club; $20): Merviale will be continuing their sunset live music series during the festival with performances from Yahtzel (at Coogee Rooftop) and L D R U (at ivy Pool Club).

Coogee Foreshore Festival (20th March at Coogee Pavilion; $25/$45 for three/six food and drink tokens): The Great foreshore festival will return as this beachside venue turns into a platform for stalls from Papi Chulo, El Loco, Mr Wong, and more, with roving entertainment, family games and live music.

The above are just some of what Merivale are planning for the festival, for more information and tickets head to http://www.marchintromerivale.com.au

March Into Merivale
14th February – 20th March
Various Venues.

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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy-Editor-At-Large of the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.

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