April sees the return to Vietnam of Taste Australia, a food and drink extravaganza. It reflects the growing importance of Australian goods in the Vietnamese market, according to Karen Lanyon, the Australian Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Australian food and beverages — particularly beef, lamb, fruit, dairy and wine — enjoy a reputation as safe, clean and healthy products,” she says. “Vietnam’s retail, hospitality and tourism sectors are already utilising high-quality Australian meats, fruit, wine and dairy products, and demand for these products is increasing as these sectors expand.”
According to Lanyon, Australian exports to Vietnam are lower than to other countries in the region. For this reason, Taste of Australia — a month-long programme of dinners, wine shows and culinary competitions — makes its second annual appearance on the calendar.
Organisers say it will also help businesses from both countries promote their goods and services to a wider audience, with the involvement of Austrade, the Australian government’s trade commission for export/import.
The event kicks off with a two-day wine show in Ho Chi Minh City (Mar. 31 and Apr. 1), with the first day being an industry day, promoting Australian wines available in-country to F&B and hospitality leaders, and the second day a public event. On the same day, there is a four to five-course ticketed public dinner for approximately 70 guests at Grain cooking studio.
Leading Australian chefs each prepare a signature Australian dish live in front of diners, educating them on the fresh and high-quality nature of Australian produce as well as the innovative nature of Australian cuisine. The dishes are paired to matching Australian wines.
On Apr. 3, the wine show moves up north to Hanoi.
The following week sees gala dinners in both Hanoi (Apr. 11) and Ho Chi Minh City (Apr. 13) for several hundred of Australia’s key government, F&B and hospitality contacts in Vietnam, showcasing Australian food, beverage, cuisine and fashion.
Danang gets its turn towards the middle of the month (Apr. 18 and Apr. 20) with the heats and finals of a culinary competition and a community BBQ.
The culinary competition will also appear in Hanoi (Apr. 18) and Ho Chi Minh City (Apr. 18). The organisers believe it provides a rare and valuable opportunity for Vietnam’s budding young chefs to learn from culinary experts, including celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. They will learn how to prepare Australian ingredients to the highest standard, and then utilize these ingredients to create their own innovative dishes, competing to win an all-expenses paid trip to Australia and a chance to further their culinary education with renowned Australian culinary institutions.
The competition follows a Masterchef/Iron Chef/Chopped model; teams of two students from Vietnamese culinary institutions around the country will compete in heats held simultaneously in four cities. The team that wins each heat will travel to Danang to compete in the final at the Intercontinental Sun Peninsula Resort.
Acclaimed Vietnamese chefs, including Masterchef winners Ngo Thanh Hoa and Minh Nhat, as well as Madame Tuyet, will join Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen and Korean Masterchef winner Sid Choi in mentoring and judging the competitors throughout the heats and final.
Taste of Australia also reflects the broader trading relationship between the countries, according to Lanyon.
“Australia and Vietnam have a very complementary agricultural trading relationship,” she says. “High-quality Australian produce is manufactured into popular Vietnamese products, for example wheat is turned into flour for baked goods and malt is used in beer production. Australian technology and investment is also helping to strengthen and develop the productivity and sophistication of Vietnam’s agricultural production methods.
“But this isn’t just a one-way street, Australia imports Vietnamese seafood, fruit and nuts, along with manufactured products, and Vietnamese cuisine is rapidly becoming one of the most popular in Australia.”