A few months back, I became involved through mega-big advertising agency Ogilvy, in a Bank of Melbourne promotion/competition tie-in with Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, for which for the bank is the main sponsor.
Some of the harder heads in the Melbourne food blogger community advised all those thinking of responding to the invitation from Ogilvy to think again, the main gist of their opposition being that it was just another example of big-bucks outfits treating bloggers with contempt and their content as worthless.
I forged ahead anyhow, and after a few ups and downs the whole thing is operating pretty smoothly.
You can see the Consider The Sauce “food tips” up there with those of a handful of other bloggers, all being utilised as teasers to get customers to submit tips of their own.
True, no money changed hands.
But I’ve enjoyed the experience, even when things got a little hairy in the preparation stages.
It’s a networking thing, getting the Consider The Sauce name out and about. I’ve made a nice contact and had a lovely lunch with her.
The number of visitors the promotion has driven to Consider The Sauce has been mostly on the pitiful side, but I had no great expectations in that regard. Positively, some of those who found us through the promotion were previously unaware of Consider The Sauce and yet have become regular visitors.
That’ll do me!
As part of the promotion, I was provided with two complementary tickets to the World’s Longest Lunch.
Now, my original intention was to play fast and loose with the unwritten arrangements of my whole relationship with Ogilvy, the bank and the festival by using these tickets for myself and Bennie.
But, as luck would have it, I was down to work that day and Bennie was in school.
So, through no great generosity of spirit or ethical righteousness, I did the “right thing” and gave them away to a Consider The Sauce friend.
You can read Daniel May’s post about the event here.
One thing is for sure, though, there’s no way – No Way, NO WAY – I would ever have attended that lunch had I been required to fund the tickets myself.
Judging by Daniel’s photos, this looks like it was a matter of a quite nice three-course meal and wines to match.
But $135 per person?
Daniel, too, being a paid-up Westie these days, was happy to concede he would never have attended had he not scored a couple of freebies.
I have no doubt the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is not setting out to gouge people, nor charging as much as they think the market will bear.
I’m sure they have good reasons for doing what they do.
When concerns are raised about their pricing structure – and I’m pretty certain I’m not the first to do so – I’m sure they can and do point to festival events that are free or low cost.
Nevertheless, as it stands I am simply unable to engage with festival in any meaningful way, mainly for one simple reason – I can’t afford to do so.
I’m a passionate Melburnite and passionate about the city and its food.
Consequently, it feels damn strange to feel so estranged – financially, socially, culturally – from an event that seems like it should be such a perfect fit for me, my son and our blog.
And if that’s the case for myself – with all the positive motivation I have – for how many more Melbourne folks is it even more true?
It may be unfair, but there’s an abiding impression that the festival merely packages – at premium prices – goodies that are available all year round.
And in Footscray, that means every day of the week, including Mondays and Christmas Day.
I’ve also heard some grumbles about pricing at the Geelong leg of this year’s festival
It could be, mind you, that myself and other like-minded folks are simply out of the loop with the festival in a more fundamental way.
The big names seem to be a key part of the festival’s marketing and appeal.
Yet the celebrity chefs and the like seem far less heroic or notable to me than the ordinary chefs, food folk and business people I talk to and meet on a weekly basis.
There’ll be plenty of food you can pay for at this bash from an impressive and long list of exhibitors and stallholders.
I’m particularly interested in Smokin’ Barry’s Barbeque.
It’s been a long-time lament of mine that ‘Merican style barbecue goodies such Really Great Ribs and so on are such a rarity in Australia and Melbourne.
But based on the slide show at their site, it looks like a good bet these folks have it nailed.
And they have a killer slogan: “You don’t need teeth to eat our meat!”
But a colleague who is something of a veteran of this festival tells me there’ll also be no shortage of exhibitors offering samples of their wares.
If I don’t contract “festival fatigue” the previous day at the Brimbank/Sunshine celebrations, I’ll be there.
Admission to the Lara Food and Wine Festival is by gold coin donation.