Spanish chef Pablo Tordesillas features at the Food and Wine Festival this weekend.
Spanish chef Pablo Tordesillas features at the Food and Wine Festival this weekend. John Mccutcheonn

Where has the family meal gone?

ARMANDO Percuoco whips off his glasses, eyeballs his audience and says: “A healthy family is a healthy nation.”

The famed Sydney chef and restaurateur is talking passionately about teaching our children how to cook, eat and enjoy communicating as a family at the home dining table.

One of more than 50 presenters, including MasterChef celebrity Matt Preston, at the Audi Noosa Food and Wine Festival in Noosa this weekend, Mr Percuoco despairs of today’s fast food mentality and the effect it has on our nation.

“Where has the family table gone?” he said.

“It takes less than half an hour to cook a dish of pasta with fresh tomato and basil sauce and make a salad.

“Forget the television and the Nintendo games.

“Get the children to cook with you, sit at the table and talk to you.”

As an Italian from Naples arriving in Australia in the 70s, Mr Percuoco found our barren culinary landscape a terrible shock.

Now he rejoices our in our seasonal approach to food and at his Buon Ricordo restaurant in Sydney, he still cooks the nostalgic dishes he grew up with in Naples.

Yesterday, he presented some of his signature dishes, including a pear risotto and prune semi-freddo, at one of three lifestyle lunches running simultaneously under the Grand Marquee in the Noosa Lions Park.

Co-hosted with food writer and author David Dale, the Italian lunch was a suitable start to the three-day weekend food extravaganza.

Today, Noosa Lions Park will become the culinary hub of the Sunshine Coast with produce exhibitions, food and wine tastings, food critics’ cooking competition, cooking demonstrations and musical entertainment.

The festival continues tomorrow with premium wine tastings, a Queensland cheese exhibition, celebrity chef demonstrations and lifestyle discussions.

The weekend culminates in a Sunday concert with Rebecca O’Connor paying tribute to Tina Turner.

The festival, now in its seventh year and founded by Jim Berardo, has been a year in the planning.


Landmark Australia Pinot Noir Masterclass: Limited tickets left.


Celebrity cooking demonstrations between 9.15am and 1.45pm in The Grand Marquee. Plenty of seating available.

Today and tomorrow is a Celebration of Australian Food and Wine: Tickets at the gate ($50 per day) includes two tickets for food and wine and concerts.

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