Perfect blend for foodie festival

Posted: 9am 03 Aug 2022

Expect plenty of laughs and to learn how to make the perfect paella with Moreton Bay bugs, when Spanish-Australian celebrity chef Miguel Maestre takes to the stage at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival this month.

He’ll join a stellar line-up of chefs cooking up a storm at event, which is on from August 19-21 at Apex Park, Woody Point.

The event kicks off the Tastes of Moreton Bay Feastival, a six-week celebration of the region’s producers and foodie culture. There are more than 40 events from August 19 to September 25.

Miguel says the diverse line-up of celebrity chefs and cooks including Manu Fieldel, Adriano Zumbo, Georgia Barnes, Alastair McLeod, Pearly Sprinkles, Alex Glenn and Luke Camilleri – will showcase a variety of cuisine that can be created using ingredients from across the Moreton Bay Region.

Miguel will make his signature paella, using Moreton Bay bugs, when he appears on Friday, August 19.

“I love paellas so much. I love the idea of everyone sitting at the big dish with all these bubbles and smells … Moreton Bay Bugs whoah, it’s got everything, it’s got shell, it’s got sweetness inside, it’s a beautiful jewel of the ocean,” he says.

“I’ve been cooking with Moreton Bay bugs since the early days of my cooking career, so I’m really lucky I can do it in front of people.

“I love people. That’s when I thrive when people are watching me and having a laugh. When you work in TV, you see all these reality shows and all these things … they’re not really that real. With cooking demonstrations, people are right there. I love it … being face-to-face with people and being able to interact.”

Live and loving it

The audience can see and smell what Miguel is cooking on stage and react.

“There’s no hiding, no hiding behind cameras, lights and action. This is just right there, in the moment, and I love that. That is one of my favourite things in life,” he says.

He’s hoping his demonstrations will give home cooks useful tips and inspiration to make a paella themselves with ingredients available in the region.

“I’ve been cooking paellas all my life and the process, I polish things to a point always thinking people at home can replicate what I do,” Miguel says.

“Just a little bit of learning, and just to encourage people to be brave enough to cook a paella. At the end of the day, that’s what it is to be an ambassador of cuisine, Spanish and Australian cuisine – they go so well together.”

He says the main tip to remember is to ensure you have crowd to share your paella with.

“You can’t have a paella for one. If you have friends or family, invite somebody to share it with,” Miguel says.

Paella pan obsession

Miguel says he used to have paella pans of every size you can imagine in his Sydney garage and had to move them to a warehouse because his wife ‘had enough’.

There’s one so big, it doesn’t fit in the garage. Imagine the crowd you could seat around that with forks in hand!

Family connection to cooking

For Miguel, the principals of Spanish cooking are the reason he decided to become a chef.

“My mum comes from a family of 20 children. My grandfather was a really successful farmer … it was a self-sustainable farm, a long time ago, and all the kids used to work in the farm. That’s why they had so many, the free labour,” he says laughing.

“Going to the Sunday family days, with my family, there were always 60 or 70 cousins and we didn’t go to restaurants, we just cooked. My uncles would do the pigs, we do everything from nose to tail … my grandmother would do the big paella to feed the whole family. It’s what I learned.

“I think that’s where my passion for cooking comes from. My style of cooking is really loud and really out there because that’s what I learned, that’s what I am.

“That was my direction. I worked in fine dining … but my cuisine in my heart and what runs through my blood is that traditional Spanish cooking. That’s why my meals are generous, fun … there’s no funny sauces, there’s no craziness it’s just humble ingredients combined to a point that people can enjoy.

“I cook the same food pretty much on The Living Room as I do at home. It’s made with a lot of love and flavour.”

Be inspired

See Miguel in action at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival, where he will be presenting two cooking demonstrations on Friday, August 19, showcasing local produce.

To find out more about Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival and to buy tickets, head to the website

Tastes of Moreton Bay Feastival is delivered by Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism, with the support of key strategic partner, Moreton Bay Regional Council.

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