It’s time to take your barbecue game up a notch this January long weekend, because Melbourne culinary veteran Jerry Mai (Bia Hoi) is lighting the grill for the last time at Mornington Peninsula’s Ocean Eight Winery.
As her summer residency comes to a close, Mai is wrapping up with a five day barbecue festival with her foodie friends. You’ll be treated to the likes of Masterchef alumni Khanh Ong, Diana Chan, and Sarah Tiong, as well as the one and only George Calombaris and guest judge Gary Mehigan, for what Mai is calling a weekend of “getting mates together, cooking some delicious food, and having a really good time”.
Mai has known the guys at Ocean Eight Winery for years, stocking their wines in her venues and pairing their crisp drops with her Southeast Asian dishes. So when the idea came to set up a summer residency, both Mai and Ocean Eight’s Mike Aylward leapt at the opportunity. Having never had food at the winery before, they started from scratch.
“There’s no restaurant, there’s no building, it’s just a barbecue and some wine barrels where you can sit and drink and relax,” says Mai, “we’re trying to survive through this pandemic. [I wanted to] just take all my staff to a winery and hang out”.
The no-fuss, outdoor barbecue set up has been a sell-out success since kicking off in November, 2020. Mai still has some tricks up her sleeve for the finale though. You can expect her signature pork sausages containing red curry paste, her delicious Banh Mi, and her personal favourite, Mu Ping. There will also be heaps of vegetarian options with veg baos, spring rolls and a grilled miso cauliflower.
“We’ve always got options,” says Mai, “[and] we’ve always got one or two vegetables on the grill”. So rest easy, there’s something for everyone at this barbecue.
Besides the great food, the wine will be flowing too. Ocean Eight’s crisp pinot gris pairs perfectly with Mai’s Southeast Asian flavours. Make sure you try the rosè too, which Mai assures me she’s been drinking “bucketloads” of during her stint. Whether you’re a wine lover or not, though, locations don’t get much better than Ocean Eight. The views across the vines as you kick back on the lawn are second to none.
Get fired up for what is sure to be a weekend of great food, a lot of laughs and top-notch wine. Running from Friday 22 January to Tuesday 26 January, it’ll be Mai’s take on the classic barbecue with some of her best mates who happen to be some of Australia’s best chefs—“it’ll be straight up barbecue like my mum would cook[…] good flavours, packs a punch, good to eat”. We couldn’t put it better ourselves.
Once you’re done at Ocean Eight, check out the huge three-week wine festival in the Macedon Ranges here.
Image credit: supplied