Great menu offerings at summer festivals is music to the ears of foodies, writes Joanna Mathers

Food and music festivals haven't always been a match made in heaven. Greasy chips and warm Coke may have tasted okay when you were 18, full of beer and fresh from the mosh pit, but in our age of celeb chefs and seemingly endless food options, punters expect more than deep-fried junk from their festival experience.

Luckily, festival organisers now offer tasty culinary offerings. Today the Big Day Out announces the 2014 festival will feature a gourmet food village called Chow Town; a food court of sorts dedicated to satiating festival goers' appetites for great grub.

Chow Town is a name borrowed from sister festival Lollapalooza in Chicago, and will feature cuisine created by some of New Zealand's finest chefs. It will be near one of the festival's main bars, with a view over all the stages, and offer a range of food from some of our best restaurants.

The food talent lineup is as impressive as the lineup on stage. Ben Bayly from Baduzzi, Nic Watt from Masu, Che Barrington from Blue Breeze Inn, Sam Campbell from Orleans, Javier Carmona from Mexico, and Kyle Street from Federal Delicatessen are all culinary stars with skills to match the rock stars on the stage.


Organiser Campbell Smith explains the thinking behind the Chow Town idea. "Like most good ideas, it's really simple. There's no reason why fans shouldn't be able to get a wide variety and standard of food at a music festival. Fans are there for up to 12 hours, they need to eat several times during that period, so let's make the food experience as varied and as good as we can."

Smith says that rock'n'roll and great food are a natural fit, and thinks that chefs are almost like rock stars in their own right.

"Kitchens are the new recording studios. Restaurants are the new live venues. And chefs are the new rocks stars. They're no longer hiding in hot and cramped kitchens, sweating it out behind the scenes. They're out the front, they're creative, they're visionary, they're tattooed and they're full of self belief and bravado. Just like rock stars," he says.

"In this country we have some of the best rock star chefs in the world. So let's put the spotlight on them, rejoice in their embrace of fresh local supplies, showcase their talent, celebrate their genius."

The chefs are all excited to be involved, and can't wait for the music to start. "Pearl Jam is the must-see for me, but I am also keen to see The Lumineers," says Nic Watt from Masu.

Kyle Street from Federal Delicatessen is keen to discover new talent. "I can't wait for January, this will be the 7th Big Day Out I've attended. I always enjoy the mix of artists, old favourites playing alongside the soon-to-be classics. I've found many of my top ten bands by letting my ears lead me from stage to stage at previous Big Day Outs."

Chow Town will hopefully go some way to redressing the disappointment brought on by Blur's cancellation. But Big Day Out isn't the only summer festival that will offer great food in summer 2014. Many other festivals will also be serving up delicious food alongside their great acts. Here's a taste of what to expect.

Big Day Out will take place at Western Springs in Auckland on Friday, January 17. Bands include Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion and The Lumineers. See


Food pick: Sweet corn esquites in a cup with chipotle butter, blackened onion and lime crema, coriander, magic powder, queso seco and candied sesame from Mexico.

St Jerome's Laneway

Laneway has always been the music festival of choice for discerning music goers (otherwise known as hipsters), so it makes sense that the food and wine pickings would be equally as choice.

The food options this year are eclectic, with such diverse vendors as Urban Escargot, Tasty Pots, Mexi kai, Stumpys Pizza, Langos (Hungarian bread puffs) and Fatimas. There will be about 18 food vendors on the day, half of which will offer vegetarian and vegan options.

"We want to create an experience that is affordable and easy to manage at a festival," says Mark Kneebone, one of the Laneway organisers. "We have to balance the needs of a busy music lover and offer options that cover multiple vegetarian, vegan and organic options against the great Kiwi tradition of buying a pie and watching a band. We put a lot of work through the year into getting the balance right and making sure the costs stay reasonable and easy to eat - and of course we try all of the pies prior to the show."

The 2014 festival will feature also a wine bar, The Vivian, with some of New Zealand's best sustainable, biodynamic wines. The waterfront wine bar will be a chilled-out escape from the noise and heat of the stage areas. It will also offer seats and shade for those with sore feet and sunburn.

Wine exporter and sommelier Peter Lorimer has curated the selection. "The Vivian will offer a boutique blend of wines from New Zealand producers, from the likes of Lime Rock, Black Cottage and Cambridge Road."

St Jerome's Laneway Festival, Silo Park, January 27. Acts include Kurt Vile, Earle Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. See
Food pick: Hungarian Langos Bread with walnut and watercress pesto.

Classic Hits Winery Tour

Taking place across 16 beautiful New Zealand wineries, this year's Classic Hits Winery Tour will feature The Exponents, X Factor star Stan Walker and Breaks Co-op. But there will be more than just music to look forward to - food vendors of all varieties will be selling their wares onsite.

The Auckland Villa Maria show on February 15, will have a food lineup including churros, catering from Gourmet Shuttle, a woodfired pizza vendor, frozen yoghurt stand, and more. And of course there will be great wine at the fully licensed event.

If you are heading south over summer, and plan on attending the Winery Tour at Waipara Hills on February 22 (formerly The Mud Brick House and Café), you can look forward to She Chocolate's velvety chocolate delights, Molly real fruit icecream and frozen yoghurt as well as and gourmet food company Canon Hill's range of sweet and savoury delights.

All the tour venues will be providing food, so check the website below closer to the time for more information.

Classic Hits Winery Tour, January 21 to March 1. Venues nationwide. See
Food picks: She Chocolate chocolates.


International music and food are both on the agenda at Womad 2014, in Taranaki March 14-16.

MasterChef NZ star Jax Hamilton will be the MC for an event called Taste the World, which will see musicians put down their instruments and put on an apron to create dishes from their native country.

Lisa Paris from Womad says that things can get entertaining in the Taste the World kitchen. "Last year Nidi D'Arac from Italy was making pizza for Taste the World. As he rolled and kneaded the dough he started using it as a percussion instrument!"

This year's kitchen line-up will include Roberto Fonseca from Cuba and Mokoomba from Zimbabwe. Dub Inc will prepare a contemporary fusion of French and Algerian cuisine and Colombian band La Chiva Gantiva will make food from their home country.

Also popular is the Global Food Village. Paris says that this is a selling point for Womad.

"Some people come to Womad just for the food," she says. "Fan favourites include Hungarian langos bread, Indian curries and samosas. There will also be offerings such as Greek souvlaki, Spanish tapas, galettes and crepes, Maori kai and more."

Womad, TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth, March 14-16. Acts include Kimbra, Tim Finn, DJ Yoda, and Sam Lee and friends. See
Food pick: Savoury gluten-free galettes.

Rhythm and Vines

Those who flock to the East Coast's celebrated summer festival this New Year at the spectacular Waiohika Estate in Gisborne, will be spoiled for choice as the food and wine has always been a great feature of this popular event.

Spokesperson Julie Warmington says that the food on offer reflects the international nature of New Zealand's culinary culture. "There will be a wide range, including options for people with special dietary requirements."

On the menus are barbecued food, woodfired pizza, falafel, salads, Chinese food (noodles, beans and rice dishes), all provided by local businesses. The drink offerings will also be great - with a range of New Zealand wines, beers and spirits available.

Rhythm and Vines, Waiohika Estate Vineyard, Gisborne. December 29-31. Acts include Rudimental, Shapeshifter, Empire of the Sun and Dynamite MC. See
Food pick: The wide variety of gourmet pies.