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Chancery Lane becomes an outdoor plaza for Hamilton’s Food Festival

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Making Hamilton a more exciting place outside of work hours is the challenge now facing Danilee Trott and her team.

The City of Hamilton’s inaugural Food Festival, that kicked off this week, is an example of their creativity.

Ms Trott, City co-ordinator Thomas Lightbourne and interns Kevin Smith and Tamara Bradshaw worked with relevant stakeholders to launch the event with a complimentary continental breakfast on Monday.

Today, Chancery Lane will be turned into an outdoor plaza featuring dishes by three restaurants Common Ground, Fresco’s and Maria’s.

Bermudiana Road will close to vehicular traffic tomorrow evening to prepare for Saturday’s event where 15 restaurants will prepare and serve dishes on the sidewalk from noon until 10pm.

The festival is intended to breathe life into Hamilton after businesses shut.

“The planning goes beyond just what people see, it’s a lot more detailed,” said Ms Trott. “It’s not just our City events, we also facilitate the public’s events in the city, so all the parades and road races go through this department.

“We have obtained a liquor licence for the entire street and will be able to serve alcoholic beverages. Wine tasting will take place as well as food sampling.

“It is going to be a wide variety of foods; we have House of India, we have Fish & Tings, L’Oriental, Cafe Four, Portofino and Barracuda Grill. It’ll be a wide variety and something there that everyone can enjoy.”

Admission is free but tickets must be purchased to sample plates from participating restaurants.

Individual tickets are $10 while a booklet of five tickets, which allows a family or group of friends to sample dishes from five different restaurants, cost $40.

“When you buy a booklet you also get the benefit of getting entry into a raffle draw and there will be some great prizes given out,” said Ms Trott. “You can come for lunch, leave and come back for dinner and the tickets don’t expire.”

Chef Joe Gibbons and Bruce Barritt are the hosts and music will be played throughout the day to create a lively atmosphere.

“Everybody is really excited about it, they were happy that the city was doing this for them,” Ms Trott said. “Everybody who could participate did.

“A couple of restaurants had some logistical challenges with staff and couldn’t participate but the majority are able to and are really excited about the opportunity to showcase their food alongside the other restaurants in the city.

“Your chefs get recognised and it’s a nice opportunity to shine.”

When she joined the City of Hamilton four years ago, Ms Trott took on the task of coming up with ideas to create activity in the city.

“I run the Events Department and every year we do a brainstorming session about three-quarters of the way through the year to decide what we are going to do for the following year, if we are going to come up with new activities and ideas.

“We started the City Festival series and this is our third year now. We’ve done the Art Festival, the Fashion Festival and Family Festival and we’ve been wanting to do the Food Festival for the last two years but we haven’t been able to continue with the event because the partners that we were working with ended up cancelling.

“This year we decided that instead of relying on other entities to run the event that we would go ahead and host it ourselves.”

She continued: “We began by putting together a draft of what we thought might work and then doing a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce Restaurant Division to find out if the restaurants would be agreeable to doing something like this, something that they would support and be involved in, because obviously if we don’t have their support there is no point in doing it.

“The reason behind doing the event was twofold: to engage the restaurants in the city to showcase what they have to offer and the diversity and quantity and quality that you can get for good prices.

“And also just to provide a good community event where people can come out and have something fun and exciting to do in the city. All the festivals focus on different target markets and also focus on different businesses in the city. This one, obviously, is focusing on restaurants.

“The complimentary continental breakfast went quite well. We had different supermarts and eateries that donated foods for us to provide that service for the community.

“Everyone seemed to appreciate having a nice free breakfast when they got off the bus and the ferry and it also opened them up to see what the different options are for breakfast in the city.”

Today’s culinary walk in Chancery Lane is from 5 to 8pm.

“The restaurants that are participating are located in the lane and there will be chairs and tables set up where you can sit in the lane and eat or go into the restaurant,” said Ms Trott. “It may be something that we can continue through the summer months, maybe once a month have this culinary evening on Chancery Lane because it is a nice part of town and I think it is a little underutilised.”

Events team: (left to right) Kevin Smith, Danilee Trott, Tamara Bradshaw, Thomas Lightbourne (Photo by Mark Tatem)
City of Hamilton?s Event Project Manager Danilee Trott with a Food Festival flyer.

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Published March 22, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 22, 2012 at 8:57 am)

Chancery Lane becomes an outdoor plaza for Hamilton’s Food Festival

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