Bleach* Feasts: Not your average dinner party

As part of its immersive cultural offerings in 2021, Bleach* Festival is presenting a unique, curated trilogy of dining experiences under the stars at beautiful Justins Park in Burleigh Heads.

A dinner party like you’ve never experienced before, the Feast With Us series will satiate guests’ appetites; not just for food, but for community, music, arts and culture, over three very individual evenings.

The events kick off on 12 August with First Night Feast, hosted by First Nation Chefs Aunty Dale Chapman from My Dilly Bag and Chris Jordan from Three Little Birds.

Guests will experience the vibrant flavours of the bush and enjoy a showcase of the cuisine of the oldest living culture in the world, while surrounded by the gorgeous sights, sounds and smells of Burleigh Beach.

Friday night 13 August sees Global Sufra take over the dining tables. Created by an eclectic group of women from the Multicultural Families Organisation, the evening’s menu will celebrate the hearty and flavourful foods from the hosts’ home countries of Eritrea, Egypt, Lebanon/Syria, and Bosnia.

Co-host Omnia Ahmed has been in Australia for eight years after emigrating from Alexandria, Egypt. Over the years she has worked hard to learn English and is now studying to be an Allied Health Assistant, keen to give back to her community.

Food has long been a passion of hers, and she is excited for the opportunity to bring her Kabsa – a spiced rice dish with lamb – to the eager dinner guests.

“Cooking makes me extremely happy especially when I see people eating and enjoying my food,” says Omnia.

“I love to look in people’s eyes after they have tasted my food and I can see the happiness within them. This is extremely satisfying to me. I am extremely excited about this opportunity to cook for the Bleach* Festival. [It] makes me feel like I belong within the Gold Coast community and that I am valued as a person.”

Omnia says a meal in Egypt is about the coming together of loved ones, as much as it is about the food.

“Food is not just about eating, it’s about bringing our immediate family together every day to eat, talk, share stories and laugh,” she tells us.

In Egypt we use food as a way to show love and respect to each other.  We live as a community who support each other and our neighbours are like our family.

“This is the main thing that I miss since being in Australia far away from my family.”

Omnia hopes to provide the gathering at the Global Sufra feast with a taste of this passionate sense of community, as well as the rich spices of her native Egyptian cuisine.

“In Alexandria we spent a lot of time in a big group of friends and family we rarely spend time alone,” she says.

“We love music and dancing and we get most of our pleasure from being with other people and food is always a big part of these gatherings. I hope that the guests will have a similar experience to this at the Global Sufra Feast and I am looking forward to meeting them.”

The final feast is From The Sea, taking place on Saturday 14 August.

Hosted by passionate real food advocate, author and chef Brenda Fawdon of Picnic Real Food Bar, the menu will feature locally sourced organic and seasonal produce direct from the growers of the Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley, married with locally line-caught, seasonal and sustainable seafood.

Delicious and nourishing, the menu will connect deeply to place with the wintry hues of sunset on the Coast – purple, pink, gold and red.

Across all three nights diners will be allocated seats, sometimes next to intriguing guests from a range of connected organisations and institutions across the Gold Coast, encouraging bridges between cultures, new friendships, and unexpected conversations.

Even the feast décor comes packed to the brim with stories.

Event decorations were made in part by emerging local artist Norton and his company Retritus, which specialises in slow fashion and textile art using natural materials and botanical dyes.

Norton is creating four botanically printed silk flags that will be used for the First Light event at Bleach*, and then repurposed during the festival as hangings at the Feasts.

“These silks will be botanically dyed using Australian native plants that grow prolifically across the Gold Coast – including the Gold Coast floral emblem wallum banksia,” he tells us of their connection to the Gold Coast.

In addition to the hangings, Justins Park will be set aglow each night by Light Flower, an interconnected light installation by Indigenous architect and designer Kevin O’Brien, while the  dining tables have been made by small family-owned, environmentally conscious timber business Wooden Anchor, based in the Northern Rivers.

Musical guests for each night will also tie into the themes of the Feasts, rounding off a true feast for the sense, and a deep exploration of culture and place.

Feast With Us runs from 12 to 14 August at Justins Park Burleigh, and tickets are limited. Visit bleachfestival.com.au to book, and to check the entire event program.

IMAGE: Omnia Ahmed (c) ArtWork Agency

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