Lucky me! Last week I was given a ticket for the Gala Dinner held at Otago Polytechnic on the final evening of the conference. In an email the day before, we were told to wear comfortable clothes and sensible shoes – a clue that this culinary feast was going to be out of the ordinary. In fact it was extraordinary. As Charmian Smith wrote in the Otago Daily Times, Wednesday July 9, 2014, the event “told the story of the Sargood Centre, from its pre-European history as a Maori place of learning, through the 1925 New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition for which it was built, to its use as an art gallery and, more recently, as part of the polytechnic.”
Guests met and mingled at Manaaki, the polytechnic hospitality centre. After enjoying parcels of duck and crayfish, plus a beverage or two, we were transported in a heritage bus to the Sargood Centre where we were immersed in a carnival atmosphere, complete with quirky booths, gin slushies, popcorn, disembodied hands offering tasty morsels, and delicious lamb cutlets peddled from a cart.
We later became part of an art ‘exhibition’ in another building, where we encountered cubes of botanical gel in spoons embedded at various levels into plinths. We had to eat the cubes without using our hands. Not as easy as it sounds.
Finally we were escorted into a funky space with lights and music and handed plates of lemon curd, passion-fruit sago, tiny balls of sponge, miniature macaroons and a huhu grub injected with a citrus type substance!
Everyone had a fabulous night thanks to the amazing Culinary Art Degree staff and students, and everyone who assisted them.
This photo of Margo Barton and me was taken in the 1920’s South Seas Exhibition mid-way through the evening.