THE call is out for sponsors, volunteers and food stall operators to register their interest for next year’s Local Wild Food Challenge.

Returning to Mahy Reserve in Ohope on February 8, the Local Wild Food Challenge presents foodies with the opportunity to hunt, forage and gather ingredients and morph them into delectable dishes.

There is a range of categories for all ages to enter and a judging panel, usually including at least one celebrity chef, which has the difficult task of selecting winners.
Whakatane District Council manager of tourism and events Nicola Burgess is thrilled that the festival, now in its fifth year, has gained momentum and become a major fixture on the summer event calendar.

“Ohope perfectly captures the essence of celebrating our district’s precious natural resources and wild kai,” she says. “Those who don’t fancy themselves as cooks can join us for a day of entertainment, live demonstrations with tastings, delicious food from a variety of vendors, a craft beer garden and much more.”

Similar events are held worldwide in locations such as Italy, Ireland and the United States.

Event founder and chef Bill Manson says he never failed to be impressed by the passion and imagination Eastern Bay foodies brought to the challenge.

“I’ve been involved with so many Local Wild Food Challenge events across the world since its inception in 2008, and the Ohope festival really ticks all the boxes,” he says.

“The local area has an abundance of wild food from the land and ocean and it’s always inspiring to see what dishes people create and learn the stories behind them.”

This year is extra special, with the launch of a dedicated Ohope Local Wild Food Challenge website packed full of information about the festival, online entries for the challenge, registration for food vendors and a portal to buy tickets.

For those who would rather hunt a bargain than meat, early bird tickets are now available online via www.ohopewildfood.nz.

The family-friendly nature of the event remains the same, with free entry for children under 16 and plenty of kids’ activities.

Event organisers need sponsors, volunteers and food stall operators to register their interest now. Visit the website or email Julie.Allerby@whakatane.govt.nz for your opportunity to be involved with this unique, fun and vibrant festival.