Not long after I first arrived in Hawke's Bay in March this year, the Hawke's Bay Tourism people came to me with their plans for the year.
One of the festivals they were planning was something called the Food and Wine Classic (FAWC), to run from November 2-11.
It seemed like a great idea, but it also seemed a lot of work. It was reliant on buy-in from local restaurants and wineries and I remember wondering if they would get it together in time.
I am pleased to say that not only is this food and wine festival going ahead (starting on Friday), but it looks like it will be very successful. Hopefully in 10 years' time we will look back at the early days of FAWC and realise how big it has become.
Hawke's Bay Today is one of many companies and organisations that have got behind FAWC, but we believe it is newsworthy anyway. The concept is quite simple - FAWC is a series of "out of the box" food and wine experiences set in the wonderful locations in Hawke's Bay.
The event is expected to appeal to locals who love food and wine, but is also aimed at drawing people from elsewhere, including overseas, to the Bay. As our story in today's paper shows, interest from foreign media has been good. It will be great for our economy if we can get FAWC on the map as one of the essential events on the New Zealand - and world - culinary calendar.
As always with these events, the key to success is to have some big names and good, local talent.
Masterchef judge Ray McVinnie is certainly a big name and is the official FAWC ambassador. Wine guru John Hawkesby is another well-known personality who will be down for the events. Other celebrity chefs attending include three Masterchef winners, Brett McGregor, Nadia Lim and Chelsea Winter. Among the local talent on display will be James Beck of Taste Cornucopia and Jeremy Rameka of Pacifica restaurant.
There will be something for everyone and the two weeks kick off with the launch party at Craggy Range Winery on Friday night. Basically this takes the form of a very upmarket car boot picnic with wine from Craggy Range, Trinity Hill, Elephant Hill, Mission Estate and Church Road. Canapes will come from the local estate's Terroir Restaurant. Other highlights include a wine tasting with John Hawkesby at Elephant Hill on Saturday, a Masterchef dinner at Black Barn Riverside Lodges, the One Big Tasty Night at Taste Cornucopia on Saturday and the Wheely Glassy Hawke's Bay trails wineries ride launch on Sunday. There is plenty more on, but one of the highlights of the following weekend will be the much-anticipated Kai in the Bay festival at the Ahuriri waterfront.
Quite an amazing list of events and something that can only be of benefit to our economy and our reputation as a food and wine destination.