Festival dishes up regional delights

The spotlight is on Southland flavours for the month as Savour the South highlights the region as a food-lovers’ paradise.

Locally sourced gastronomic delights, characterising the region’s finest produce, are being served by several cafes and restaurants in Invercargill and beyond, showcasing a rich variety of meat, seafood and local tastes.

The festival was conceived by Hospitality New Zealand’s Southland branch to reinvigorate the region’s hospitality industry in the wake of Covid and bring the attention back to its dishes, drops and accommodation.

Hospitality New Zealand Southland regional manager Darelle Jenkins said it wanted to bring people back out and dining again.

"We came up with the idea to showcase the awesome Southland produce on offer, because it really is among the best in the world."

The festival launched last weekend with Street Dine Fiordland, and will run for the rest of the month.

"We like to have a big main event in each region of Southland. We have the hope to grow into Gore next year."

The members involved were all really excited to be taking part again, as this year had been tougher than previous years because of staffing issues, she said.

Crafty’s Bar & Grill owner Jeremy Hawkes said he had been busy in the restaurant, and the festival was a great opportunity to promote the region’s food.

The Batch cafe head chef and co-owner Joe Wilkes prepares the locally-sourced slow cooked...
The Batch cafe head chef and co-owner Joe Wilkes prepares the locally-sourced slow cooked Leelands lamb neck which will feature in April’s Savour the South festival, highlighting Southland as a food lovers’ paradise. PHOTO: BEN TOMSETT
"Hopefully a lot of other local businesses are also getting involved ... and doing their bit to showcase what brilliance we’ve got down here."

Throughout the month, Crafty’s is serving up a three-course meal featuring the region’s finest foods alongside a locally made beer: crayfish pot sticker dumplings, lamb burger with lamb mince and lamb bacon, and a homemade blueberry and farm-fresh milk gelato crepe.

"We’re not known for our climate down here for a lot of reasons ... But the reality is, we’ve got an amazing climate for producing some amazing products.

"Green grass, great pastures, for different varieties of animals, fruit and veggies ... There’s a lot of people down here locally that are going very well."

The Batch Cafe head chef and co-owner Joe Wilkes said the region was a great area for homegrown produce, and he hoped to display that during the month.

The Batch will be showcasing a slow-cooked Leelands lamb neck and chimichurri on confit swede with honey and thyme carrots.

Mrs Jenkins said a highlight of the festival would be the finale — the Pure South Famous Young Chefs Degustation Luncheon.

Chefs in training have been invited from the Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill, Queenstown Resort College, Front-Line Training in Invercargill, the ILT and Southland Boys’ High School, where they will be mentored by eight renowned working chefs using produce grown in Southland to create a pathway in the industry.

Some of the other eateries taking part include The Speight’s Ale House, Two Doors Down, The Homestead Restaurant and Global Byte.