Gozleme. I won’t hear a bad word about it. The tasty Turkish treat has satisfied my hunger at many a festival and I know I am not alone. And not just because it’s delicious but because, for years, it was the only palatable option.
Not anymore. These days, any festival worth its weight in VIP wristbands will boast an array of culinary pleasures to keep appetites whet and bellies full.
Think tasty noodles, tender dumplings and zesty tacos. Think saucy duck pancakes, fresh banh mi and vegetarian delights. Think finger-licking sliders, wood-fired pizzas and creamy gelato. Think I’m going to drool on my keyboard if I’m not careful.
Marrickville café and picklery, Cornersmith, is new to the festival scene but co-owner Alex Elliott-Howery has the vibe sussed.
“People don’t see food as just fuel for a long festival day, they want it to be part of the whole festival experience,” she says.
“The music, the venue, the booze and the food should all be matched in quality.
“That’s what makes for a great day.”
Cornersmith isn’t the only Sydney eatery to join the festival food lineup. We chat to the guys who are bringing the eats at Small World Festival in a few weeks.
Of the changing flavour of festival food, the guys from Porteno reckon “It’s awesome!
“It makes for a better experience for everyone and we love being invited along to experience some of the best festivals, even if we are super busy pumping out pork belly and brisket sambos.”
It’s not just bricks-and-mortar establishments getting in on the act. Sydney boasts a fleet of food trucks delivering stylish street food to festival-goers.
“It’s great,” says Adam Bozzetto, one half of electronica outfit Wordlife.
“Not everyone goes to a festival just to get drunk and party super hard. Some people like more than that. I know I do.
“To enjoy music with food… IS THE BEST THING EVER!”
So, goodbye soggy chips, sloppy meat pies and crusty dagwood dogs. No longer are our festivals food options presented in 50 shades of beige, as festival frequenter and Broke But Chic AF blogger, Tania Hoang has noticed.
“The colour palette of food has definitely expanded beyond deep friend golden browns,” she says.
“There has been a fantastic shift to fresh greens, reds, whites and purples. Local produce has exploded onto the scene with a side of herb invasion.”
Suzie Smith, blogger for Broke But Chic AF and publicist at Secret Service PR (who specialises in music services), says these days food choices are an important part of a festival’s brand development.
“Festivals now want to align themselves with quality ‘hip’ food companies and on trend food options,” she says.
“Festivals mean big money for food businesses and are an incredible platform to promote local pop-ups and produce.”
Suzie points to examples such as the local oysters served with selected wines at Southbound in WA or the sought-after Mary’s burgers served to Splendour in the Grass VIPs this year.
Splendour was a “crazy, fun mud-fest” for the Mary’s crew but the festival scene wasn’t always a considered ride for the Newtown establishment. In fact, in the words of co-owner Jake Smyth, Mary’s was “fucking terrible” at first.
“We were disorganised, underprepared, cooking by the seat of our pants and generally with a healthy dose of Jack Daniels in our bellies,” Jake continues.
“We have hopefully got a little better though the Jack Daniels remains important to soften the brutality of offsite cookery!”
The ultimate festival catering gig? Jake believes iconic UK festival, Glastonbury, would top that list but he’s also concocted a pretty sweet festival closer to home.
“We would love to see the ‘Mary’s Big Ass Love-In Festival’ roll around the country, spreading burger-and-booze love,” he says.
Yeah, we’d like to see that too.
Porteño, Mary’s & Cornersmith will all be serving at Small World Festival, along with Black Betty’s BBQ & Bloodwood. Playing on the day will be DZ Deathrays, Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders, The Church, PVT and many more!
Saturday 19th of September. Tickets available NOW here.
Image credit: Small World Festival