McLaren Vale’s Karena Armstrong alongside renowned culinary icon Darren Robertson have been appointed as Tasting Australia presented by RAA Travel’s Co-Festival Directors, joined by Emma McCaskill as the festival’s new Food Curator and Nick Stock returning as Drinks Curator.
Darren Robertson’s passion for farm-to-table cooking and his use of sustainable, ethically farmed produce are philosophies which align perfectly with the Tasting Australia ethos. Together with Karena Armstrong, co-owner and chef of The Salopian Inn at McLaren Vale – the jewel in the crown of regional dining in Adelaide’s south – will lead Australia’s pre-eminent eating and drinking festival in 2022.
Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall said that Tasting Australia is a key event on South Australia’s event program which creates jobs and brings hundreds of tourists to our great city.
“Darren and Karena as Co-Festival Directors are the perfect duo to lead Tasting Australia, complemented with Emma McCaskill and Nick Stock in the curator roles, Premier Marshall said.
“Tasting Australia is the country’s leading culinary tourism festival, it creates jobs, investment and showcases just how Adelaide is the most liveable city in the nation and third in the world.”
Originally from the UK, Darren trained at the Michelin starred Gravetye Manor. He moved to Australia in 2001 and became Head Chef at Tetsuya’s. He is currently the co-owner and chef at Three Blue Ducks, Byron Bay, Sydney and Brisbane, and Rocker in Bondi.
“I have been involved with Tasting Australia for the past three years and it is truly one of the highlights of my year,” said Mr Robertson.
“To have the opportunity to lead the event as Co-Festival Director alongside Karena, Emma and Nick is a great honour. Former Festival Director Simon Bryant has helped establish Tasting Australia as a world-class event and I can’t wait to carry on that legacy.”
Renowned for her timeless cooking techniques and emphasis on highlighting local, seasonal produce Karena Armstrong is excited to tell the culinary tales of South Australia to the world and share her vision for the festival.
“Tasting Australia is an event close to my heart, since my first festival in 2014 I have had a strong connection to the event and I am excited to be appointed as the Co-Festival Director,” said Ms Armstrong.
“Between Darren and I, we are assembling a line-up of gastronomic greats cooking alongside up and coming rising stars. The program in 2022 will be as unique and compelling as ever and I am thrilled to help bring it to life.”
Taking on the role of Food Curator is Emma McCaskill – born and raised in South Australia, Emma McCaskill has forged a hugely successful international career and has featured at Tasting Australia for the last seven years.
“As a passionate South Australian, I know just how amazing and high quality the produce is here in our state. I want people to be able to connect with this through our festival,” said Ms McCaskill.
“Working alongside Darren and Karena, I want to continue to show people exactly what we are made of here in South Australia through Tasting Australia. I look forward to working with the all the great suppliers and producers from across the state to ensure we are sourcing the very best that SA has to offer.”
Rounding out the creative team is one of the country’s most respected and prolific wine critics Nick Stock, who returns as the festival Drinks Curator.
“I am looking forward to working closely with the creative team on some fun new programming for the 2022 event – the beverage program is taking shape and festivalgoers are in for a treat,” says Mr Stock.
“I can’t say too much, but next festival the emphasis is on what’s new and exciting in the drinks world – spanning big names alongside boutique producers from South Australia and further afield.”
Simon Bryant remains Patron of the festival, with Cheong Liew and Maggie Beer recognised as Legends.
RAA General Manager Travel and Distribution, Gina Norman is pleased to support the new creative direction in 2022.
“We are once again thrilled to be involved with this world-class event, showcasing the best culinary experiences and expertise our great state has to offer,” Ms Norman said.
“Under the mentorship of Simon Bryant as Patron, this highly-esteemed Creative Team will provide all the spectacle and grandeur of previous years with the addition of some exciting and fresh ideas.”