Sips in the Sticks and Sips in the City

CHEERS: The working crew at Sip in the City.
CHEERS: The working crew at Sip in the City.

‘Sips in the Sticks’ was a success at the end of June, and last weekend’s ‘Sips in the City’ was just as spectacular.

Sips in the Sticks was held at Bellwether Wines. This year they had Brisbane’s top chef Ben Williamson return to cook with a younger chef from his kitchen, Josie.

The theme was ‘mentoring and empowerment’ – the speakers were Kate Laurie from Deviation Road (Adelaide Hills), Toby Bekkers from Bekkers (McLaren Vale), Gwynn Olsen from Peppertree and Briar Ridge (Hunter Valley), John Weeks from the Sacrificial Pig (Barossa Valley), Glenn Goodall from Xanadu (Margaret River), Heather Laycock (a Wrattonbully Shiraz grower) and Steve Brown, a winemaker at Bellwether.

Sue Bell invited the local Afghan community to attend and be involved with the food as Ben’s food is modern middle eastern inspired. Local chef and educator Ian Perry helped in the kitchen with Fatima, a young woman from Naracoorte, and one of Ian’s students working the weekend with Ben and Josie.

Fatima gained experience with them preparing a feast with Limestone coast produce, and the visiting speakers all brought a plate of Afghan dessert for the Afghan women to judge with the guests and chefs. The stories, food and warmth were so much more than just another wine and food event.

To thank Ben the last two years, Sue Bell reciprocated by attending Sips in the City in Brisbane, at the critically acclaimed Gerard’s Bistro.

Sue suggested to Ben that he and Josie were now mentors to Fatima, so she took Fatima with her to gain work experience with them. They rose to this offer and ran with it, by creating a traditional Afghan menu and allowing Fatima to work with them.

Fatima and Josie created a new dessert dish based on firni, Heather Laycock’s winning dessert at the Coonawarra event. Fatima spoke at the event in Brisbane about how she had enjoyed the experience, her life history, and future aspirations.

The guests were treated again to a day of amazing food and wines, and so much more.