Kitchen Tips

Why every foodie needs to visit this Hawke’s Bay food and wine festival

Whether you're a fully-fledged gastronome or just like to enjoy good food and wine in front of gorgeous scenery, this year's Summer F.A.W.C! Food and Wine Classic is an incredible way to experience the best of what Hawke's Bay has to offer.

We're spoilt for choice in New Zealand when it comes to fresh produce, great wine and culinary expertise. But one place where that blessing of choice can sometimes be a curse is Hawke's Bay, where the options for gastronomic delights are so vast that it can be hard to know where to begin.
With their stunning river valleys, wide plains and terraced hillsides, as well as a temperate coastal climate, it's no wonder fruit trees and grapevines flourish, wildlife thrives and seafood is fresh in Hawke's Bay, making way for a foodie scene that continues to glimmer and grow. It doesn't make it a hard place to visit either - it's impossible to get tired of that scenery.

Introducing the Summer F.A.W.C! Food and Wine Classic

Throw it all together and you get F.A.W.C!, a twice-annual event that brings the best of the Hawke's Bay culinary world into one sophisticated affair. It's the perfect place to eat, drink and be merry whilst soaking up the mastery and inspiration of the region's world-class chefs, winemakers, brewers and foodies. This November, F.A.W.C! is back for the eighth edition of their summer classic, orchestrating more than 70 events across ten days in some of Hawke's Bay's most dazzling locations.
Here, we have a look at the standout meals, workshops, adventures and parties that F.A.W.C! is putting on this summer, as well as get a chance to chat to chef Sam Clark, who is hosting an event for the first time at the upcoming festival.
Chef James Beck in action at a past event.
Fresh Hawke's Bay produce inspires every dish.

Find the right F.A.W.C! event to suit your taste

Like they do with each new instalment of F.A.W.C!, this year's summer classic has once again raised the bar, with a schedule more daring, different and delicious than ever. You can enjoy a three-course meal highlighting the best of the land and sea with Nici Wickes and Fleur Sullivan's 'Leading Ladies Lunch', step onto the savannah for a day of archery, knife-throwing and sumptuous platter food at 'An Afternoon Safari', and kick your summer off early with an evening of outdoor tunes, barbecue nibbles and excellent wine at Clearview Winery's beachside vineyard.
For the more hands-on foodie, there are plenty of opportunities for you to exercise your creative flair at interactive workshops, from an artisanal adventure of butter making, vegetable fermenting and sourdough baking hosted by Lilybee Wraps, to a mozzarella-making class that will tantalise any cheese lover. We are especially looking forward to Farmhouse Kitchen's 'Let Them Eat Brioche' workshop, which includes a demonstration of both brioche baking and chèvre making, and culminates in a three-course French-style lunch. Marie Antoinette, eat your heart out!
Discover the full F.A.W.C! schedule, along with all the information you need on each exciting event.
Learn how to match cheese and wine.
Enjoy long lunches with stunning views.

Meet the chef behind one of F.A.W.C!’s most anticipated events

To get a taste for what to expect from this year's summer F.A.W.C!, we spoke to Chef Sam Clark, who is a highlight of the event's line up of cheffing talent. With a passion for food instilled from his childhood, which was spent whitebaiting with his grandfather and helping his grandmother in her Raglan kitchen, Sam rose through the ranks quickly in his culinary career, becoming Head Chef at Waiheke Island's Cable Bay Vineyard at just 25 years old.
Sam, his wife Florencia and their son, Lachlan, relocated to Hawke's Bay in early 2019 to start the next part of their food journey. They are opening Central Fire Station in mid-October, a restaurant named for its delightful Art Deco building, which brings a bistro-style dining experience to the heart of Napier and focuses on great local produce cooked simply.
Sam is bringing this cooking philosophy to F.A.W.C! at this year's event alongside Regnar Christensen (Executive Chef of the recently opened Grange in Takapuna), with a sold-out foraging feast on November 7th. The duo will be plating up a three-course menu that showcases their passion for local produce, with all aspects of the meal being sourced by hunting, fishing and foraging.
Read on to learn Sam's favourite food trends, what he's looking forward to seeing at F.A.W.C!, and why he thinks Hawke's Bay is such a food and wine nirvana.
Chef Sam Clark outside the building for his new restaurant, Central Fire Station.
Q: What can people expect from your 'Wildfire' event at this year's summer F.A.W.C.?
Plenty of local Hawkes Bay product. Regnar [Christensen] and I have a similar philosophy: get the best produce, treat it well and present it simply. So you can expect big-flavoured dishes from our smoker, game meats and foraged ingredients. It's a bit of an introduction to our restaurant for the Hawke's Bay scene.
Q: Why do you think high-quality local produce is key when it comes to cooking?
It's fresher, you're more in tune with seasonality, you have the opportunity to create relationships with producers and it makes what you present a bit more unique. Add on the food miles required for non-local produce and it just makes sense.
Sam's 'Wildfire' co-host, Regnar Christensen, at work in the kitchen.
Q: What are your favourite ingredients to use in your cooking?
Give me any seafood or meat, olive oil and lemons, and that's all you need. Plus some salt… and maybe butter too!
Q: What food and flavour trends are you hoping to see at F.A.W.C?
Local produce, that's all. I think the events are really varied and all the operators are high quality so it's a great showcase for local produce and operators.
Q: Are there any other events/chefs you are looking forward to seeing?
We're opening our restaurant in mid-October so I'm going to be flat out during the festival, but I'd like to check out the Sunday Brunch at Craggy Range and the Natural Wine Party at Cupple. Both have chefs doing phenomenal food right now.
Q: Why is F.A.W.C! an essential experience for New Zealand foodies?
There's nothing else that presents so many quality events, and it seems to be getting better every year. The events are all amazing value and the support from Hawke's Bay locals makes it feel like a real celebration of the region.
Q: What do you think makes Hawke's Bay such a dream destination for food and wine connoisseurs?
The community and local operators that support the growers, farmers and winemakers. I haven't experienced another place in New Zealand that matches it, and F.A.W.C! gives a great platform to these producers. People want to have a connection to what they're consuming, and there are so many events at F.A.W.C! that provide a real sense of place. I can't wait!
Guests enjoy a garden party at Craggy Range winery.
F.A.W.C! Food and Wine Classic is taking place from the 1st to the 10th of November, 2019.
Tickets are on sale now at www.fawc.co.nz.