Tasting Australia 2024 with Food Curator Kane Pollard

Stepping into the role of Food Curator for Tasting Australia this year, Chef Kane Pollard takes on the task of curating a selection of the region's finest food and beverage offerings; and this is no small undertaking.

We chat with Kane about his approach to putting together an event that captures the essence of South Australia’s dining scene, his passion for unique produce and sustainability, and the exciting collaborations and international influences set to elevate Tasting Australia in 2024. 

Can you share your journey from growing up in the Adelaide Hills with a market gardening family to becoming a Food Curator for Tasting Australia?

My brother and I used to climb quartz boulders in the nearby forest, follow creeks to see where they led and chased each other through the fields of wild fennel. 

My family used to own a market gardening business just outside of Uraidla in the Adelaide hills, and from age 8, I would work during school holidays with my grandpa and uncle folding boxes, planting seeds on the tractor or pulling stinging nettle from the ground. 

It wasn’t until age 15 that I realised many of my favourite things to do involved flavour, scent, texture and the overall feeling of joy you get when planting a seed or pulling a weed, knowing that I’m contributing to something that will bring joy and nourishment to people in the future.

I decided to become a chef. After working a few kitchenhand jobs at a local nursing home and Pub I started an apprenticeship, working my way up from dishes to pans in front of a full dining room quickly. I decided to do some travelling, finding myself in Germany working in bars, kitchens and spending time with friends’ families when I realised the importance of traditional methods of cookery and how it positively impacted the environment and our health. 

On return to Australia, I worked in a few kitchens both here in S.A. and Queensland that were in line with my new passion and values. This led me to buying a café within a nursery in partnership with my father-in-law Pelly, and family. I started to create dishes that utilised traditional methods, hyper-seasonal produce and forged a connection with the land through meeting growers, producers and foraging within walking distance of the now restaurant, Topiary. 

We’ve owned Topiary for 12 years now, following our ethos “work closely with those around you, move with the seasons, make everything from scratch and waste nothing”. After creating ‘sense of place’ style dining within the restaurant walls, we decided to fulfil a lifelong dream of taking this concept into the wild. PLACE dining began. As I create dishes, and plate food in the natural environment I realise that the early days playing in the hills with my brother shaped who I am and what my passions are today. Following those passions has led me to the role of Food Curator for Tasting Australia. After years of connecting with producers, getting to know the ins and outs of South Australian produce and being part of the dining scene here for many years made me a natural fit for the role. I’m now looking forward to sharing that knowledge and connection with local, interstate and overseas chefs as we prepare for Tasting Australia 2024.

Tasting Australia is renowned for celebrating South Australia’s diverse food and beverage offerings. As the Food Curator, how do you go about curating an event that captures the essence of the region’s culinary scene?

The South Australian dining scene is broad, rich and full of culture. We want to capture each of those elements within our events. Making space for our diverse range of Chefs and producers, and delivering the message to our guests in a dynamic way. Producers are always at the forefront, and it’s important that we let the chefs’ creativity thrive.

This year’s event is set to be a showcase of culinary innovation and South Australian flavours. What highlights can attendees expect, especially considering your background in unique produce, traditional methods, and sustainability?

We have some exciting new producers being showcased this year, as well as some of the states long-standing best getting involved too. A couple of highlights are the hand harvested wild abalone from Eyrewolf Abalone, indigenous ingredients from Pundi produce and pasture raised ducks from Braeburn Farm just to name a few. 

Tasting Australia often collaborates with chefs and culinary experts from around the world. Can you share some exciting collaborations or international influences that will be featured in the 2024 event?

We have some incredible names joining us this year including Claudette Zepeda from the U.S. bringing the Mexican flare, fun and flavor as well as Asma Khan taking us on a journey driven by her Indian heritage with use of spice pairing beautifully with our local produce. James Henry from world renowned restaurant La Doyenne in France will bring his refined ‘garden to table’ style to The Dining Galleries alongside local like-minded star Justin James from The Botanic.  

What do you love most about Tasting Australia?

The sense of connection it brings. Town Square in Tarntanyangga / Victoria Square becomes the beating heart of South Australia, and regional events push us to explore beyond. Lifelong connections are made with like minded, passionate producers, artisans’ chefs and more.

The Falling Autumn Leaves event you’re involved in at Tasting Australia promises an autumn-inspired Saturday lunch with a focus on elements truly of the moment. Can you share a sneak peek into the culinary delights attendees can expect from this unique experience?

Autumn is such a special time for produce and I’m very much looking forward to jumping in the Gallery Kitchens with local legends Georgie Rogers and Emma Shearer as well as Brigitte Hafner from the beautiful Tedesca Osteria. Think Local duck, persimmon, quinces, figs, oyster mushrooms and more, highlighting the golden hues of a fallen Autumn leaf. 

Town Square in Tarntanyangga / Victoria Square becomes the beating heart of South Australia, and regional events push us to explore beyond. Lifelong connections are made with like minded, passionate producers, artisans’ chefs and more.

Tasting Australia 2024 program highlights

2024 marks the 17th edition of Tasting Australia and will run for 10 days across Adelaide and regional South Australia. The 2024 program features over 150 events across the state, here are some of the highlights.

Town Square

Tasting Australia’s Town Square is the festival hub located in the heart of Adelaide CBD in Victoria Square/ Tarntanyangga. It is home to deliciously diverse eating and drinking experiences and free entry – this is the place to meet for a drink, stay for a meal and explore.

Dining Galleries – Town Square

Menus matter, of course, but so do memories; and you can make them at Tasting Australia’s Dining Rooms. These new spaces – part restaurant, part art showcase – will feature the best and brightest in global hospitality. 

Each Dining Gallery experience will be unique, with chefs to shape courses in keeping with their culinary inspiration. Not all meals will follow a conventional restaurant format – and that’s part of their fun. Works by South Australian artists Dana Kinter, Gabriel Stengle, Alexandra Bellas and Billie Justice Thomson will feature in these exciting new spaces. 

MAKE – Town Square

Add finesse to your cooking in these fresh new sessions. Held in a Town Square Dining Gallery and led by chefs and artisans, each will cover a simple skill on the path to professional results. Roll pastry. Shape sausage. Fold dumplings. Knead clay – and hear hosts’ fascinating stories too. It’s fun and immersive, with no assumed knowledge, plenty of guidance and a drink as you go.

Tasting Australia by Train: Melbourne – Adelaide

Embark on a journey from Melbourne – Adelaide with Journey Beyond exclusively for Tasting Australia, offering a 10-hour day trip featuring curated eating and drinking experiences with Cheong Liew, Asma Khan and Jae Bang onboard The Ghan’s dining and bar carriages.

Tasting Australia Airlines

Choose to fly direct to the heart of South Australia’s ancient Limestone Coast from either Adelaide or Melbourne for an overnight adventure or set off for a day to the pristine Eyre Peninsula. Venture further, discovering these beautiful regions alongside leading chefs inspired by their produce. Details? Sorted. Each itinerary leaves you free to enjoy travel at its very best. Welcome aboard.

Tasting Tables

Settle in for a series of intimate tastings hosted across beloved Adelaide hospitality venues. Each features a guest presenter and a rare set of beverages. Talk, taste and share special bottles in a setting that allows you to discover the people and places that shaped them.

More than 150 events will take place across the state for 10 delicious days of Tasting Australia. Choose from a range of immersive and unique across South Australia including a sailing adventure along the Kangaroo Island coastline, a Paul Carmichael takeover at rooftop hotspot 2KW, a wine tasting and screening of movie Sideways at Piccadilly North Adelaide and a foraging experience in the Coorong National Park at the Coorong Long Lunch: Kuti Shack x The Joinery x Pipi Co. 


3rd – 12th of May, 2023

tastingaustralia.com.au

  • Staff Writer

    Made up of a small, tight knit team of writers and contributors who are passionate about all things FIFTY+ and the New Age. We love Adelaide and wider South Australia and sharing with you all of the l...

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