We are thrilled to report that GastroFest 2014 was a huge success! This year was the second annual GastroFest and along with a team of fabulous volunteers, we have been working for months to create an event that would be different from the typical charity dinner and would successfully raise funds to help us improve outcomes of GI cancer. We wanted to plan an evening which would encourage guests to engage with their taste buds and interact with one another AND with the food. By all accounts, we succeeded!
The Nathan Club was decked out in gorgeous and fanciful decor, with the smell of roasting pork wafting through the doors from the converted wine barrels in which it roasted.
Guests were greeted to the door with Moa beer, sparkling sauvignon blanc from Kim Crawford and NZO volcanic spring water. They enjoyed fresh and spicy beef tartare made on the spot by Jason van Dorsten of Cafe Hanoi and delicious pickled fish with chervil butter on crostini from the Gavin Doyle of Ortolana. The talented Tracey Collins delighted guests as she weaved through the crowds playing her accordion.
After being seated and welcomed by the lovely Carly Flynn, guests enjoyed a bright and beautiful Vietnamese-inspired salmon salad with fresh herbs, micro-greens, fresh chilies and lychees created by the wonderful Jess Daniell of Jess' Underground Kitchen.
Next up was the main interactive aspect of the night. The mastermind chef Geoff Scott dreamed up a wonderful dining experience that allowed guests to get their hands dirty and shook things up a bit. He invited one guest from each table to pick up a cutting board and make their way to the steaming wine barrels that conspicuously sat outside each of the Nathan Club exits. There, they each collected a roasted pork loin (donated by the NZ Pork Board), and brought it back to their table where they carved it for their table mates, like an upscale Thursday Roast. Bowls of buttered Jersey benne potatoes, plates of roasted purple dragon carrots and grilled asparagus with feta were brought out by servers, as well as spectacularly delicate Vinnie's spinach terrines with hazelnut, crispy kale and edible flowers.
After the decadent main course, guests were invited to participate in a lively auction, directed by Australasian Auctioneering Champ, Daniel Coulson. We were overwhelmed by our guests' generosity at the auction, which raised over $37,000 alone.
Finally, a variety of delicious gelato sticks created by dessert gurus Milse were brought out, along with a selection of delicate mini cakes created by baking master Jordan Rondel, of The Caker.
Perhaps most importantly, GastroFest raised over $70,000 this year. That's over three times what last year's event made! GICI is a small charity with a big mission and we are incredibly grateful to all of the people who made GastroFest a success.
We would like to thank our generous Gold Sponsors: Cumulo9, Partridge Jewellers, Moa Beer and Kim Crawford Wines; and our Silver Sponsors: Pfizer, Dorchester, and Cube Printing.
We would also like the thank the fabulous chefs: Geoff Scott of Vinnies Restaurant, Jess Daniell of Jess' Underground Kitchen, Jason van Dorsten of Cafe Hanoi, Gavin Doyle of Ortolana, Brian Campbell of Milse, and Jordan Rondel of The Caker.
Finally, we'd like to voice our gratitude to Carly Flynn for MCing the night, Daniel Coulson for thrilling us at the auction and all of the businesses who contributed to the auction or the dinner.
To see more pictures, check out our facebook page.