Get ready for an unforgettable meal cooked for you by Alanna Sapwell, Monique Fiso and Analiese Gregory.

The crème de la crème of the cooking world is uniting to form what can only be described as a magical meeting of chefs and food. We’re talking about The Curated Plate (TCP), a new food festival held on the Sunshine Coast from August 8 – 11. It’s shaping up to be a party with the who’s who in food. So who’s coming? The best of the best, both internationally and locally. The debut program will see international chefs Raymond Blanc OBE, Zaiyu Hasegawa, Monique Fiso and Analiese Gregory, as well as Australian talent such as Peter Gilmore, Clayton Wells, Matt Stone, Chase Kojima, Darren Robertson, Alanna Sapwell, Nelly Robinson and Troy Rhoades-Brown grace us with their presence, to name a few.  

One key event which begs your attention is the Urban List presents The Elements Long Lunch at the Restaurant on Mooloolaba Beach on August 11. This four-course lunch will be prepared for you by leading ladies in the kitchen; Monique Fiso, Alanna Sapwell and Analiese Gregory. These women are true bosses of their field and a collaboration between them has never happened before (though Analiese and Alanna have been known to go diving for abalone together on the odd occasion).

So, who exactly are these brilliant chefs?

Alanna Sapwell, ARC Dining (Brisbane)

Let’s start with Alanna. After career-defining stints in Japan and Italy, Sapwell returned home and worked as head chef at Josh and Julie Niland’s hatted fin-to-tail seafood diner Saint Peter in Sydney. At the end of 2018 Sapwell left Saint Peter to head up the kitchen at ARC Dining and Wine Bar at the brand new Howard Smith Wharves precinct in Brisbane. Here local, ethical produce is championed in the form of fun, inventive dishes. “In the current environmental climate, veggie and vegan diets are rightly on the rise. But we need farming and food production to move backwards, to stop factory farming and eating food out of season and return to our roots of farmers producing quality, not quantity,” Alanna says. “Small producers with good intentions. I want the diner to know they can eat their meal without guilt.” Getting involved with The Curated Plate’s Elements Long Lunch was therefore a no-brainer for Sapwell. “We have great produce available locally all year round and our producers are recognising the value in more traditional farming methods. There’s a great sense of community here and the restaurant scene in Brisbane and Queensland as a whole is developing rapidly. It’s an exciting place to be.”

Monique Fiso, Hiakai (Wellington)

Monique Fiso has also paved an incredible path. Her work is exemplary. She spent seven years in top Michelin-starred restaurants in New York such as The Musket Room, PUBLIC Restaurant and Avoce before returning home to open establish Hiakai. Fiso is currently head chef of Hiakai, Wellington, where her menu is inspired by the land, sea and people of New Zealand. Native Māori and Polynesian ingredients such as tītī bird (muttonbird), mamaku and red matipo among others are her primary focus and are showcased via dry ageing, pickling, powdering and more. So why get involved with The Curated Plate and Elements Long Lunch? “I really enjoy these types of things,” Monique says. “I’m really stoked to be doing this with Analiese. I haven’t met Alanna before so it’ll be interesting to see her in action and also because she’s the local. Also, doing these events with a lot of Australian chefs who I have a lot of respect for was a massive drawcard, being able to collaborate with people who are doing really exciting things. If I meet Raymond Blanc I’m probably going to fan girl pretty hard.”

The produce, as well, is something Monique is looking forward to working with. “I’m really keen to look at what is indigenous to that area, and incorporating that into the menu. I’m really excited about the seafood as well. I did a really, really short stint in Burleigh Heads years ago and I remember all the fish. It was just really exciting, there was such a wide variety so I’m quite excited to go back and play around again.”

Analiese Gregory, Franklin (Hobart)

Analiese Gregory, head chef at Hobart’s Franklin, has an equally extensive CV. She worked alongside Peter Gilmore at Quay and was part of the team that opened Bar Brosé in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Gregory’s style of cooking is laid-back, turning to beautiful ingredients prepared using interesting methods to elevate and heighten their flavour. Vegetables and traditional fermentation techniques are her bread and butter, due, in part, to living in the micro-seasonal Tasmanian climate. One look at her Instagram page will tell you she’s a big fan of experimentation, too. Black garlic, black onions, miso made from leftover Franklin bread, a muttonbird garum and experiments with shark and wallaby are a few of the items on her radar at the moment. While Tasmania’s produce was a strong pull when it came to her sea change, the produce available up north is something that excited her about The Curated Plate Elements Long Lunch. “I’m super excited about visiting, especially seeing we only use fresh produce from Tasmania here at Franklin. I miss mangoes, prawns, coconut, coral trout, the list goes on! I can’t wait to eat and cook with those ingredients again,” Gregory says. And what about the dream-team combo of her, Alanna and Monique? “I think it could be something really quite special and it’s rare that we are in the same place at the same time. I have the utmost respect for both of them. They’re really at the top of our field with their own styles, just quietly doing their own thing.”

The common thread between these women is clear. Not only do they have numerous successes under their belts, they’re each pioneers in their field, advocates for the use of local produce and are steering the ship to where modern dining should be heading. They’re resourceful, and each look to history, traditional techniques, methods and ingredients in an effort to move the way we eat forward. While the specific dishes the ladies will be cooking on the day are being rightly kept under wraps, you can expect a little snack by each of them, then a course from each chef. “Even though one name will be next to the course, as Analiese says, we’re trying to make it “homogenous”, you don’t want a random dish by each of us,” Monique says. Rest assured, this is going to be unforgettable.  –By Molly Urquhart

The Curated Plate takes place in various locations on the Sunshine Coast from August 8–11.

To reserve your spot to the Urban List presents Elements Long Lunch, book here.