Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia
Imagine traveling in a gourmet adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia. It wasn’t an imagination as I travelled with Chef Wan last November with twenty of his fans to one of the best places in Australia, Western Australia.
How do I describe Chef Wan?
He is the most popular and talented chef in Malaysia. Thus, he is also the food ambassador of Malaysia. He made his first appearance on national TV in Malaysia in 1980s. He made his name with his easy and comedic cooking show and captured the hearts of the millions. Then, he moved on to Asian Food Channel a couple years ago and now he is in National Geographic. He is one of the funniest celebrity chefs around the world and outspoken too.
Before this trip, I met Chef Wan in a few food events and I was invited to dine in his house too by Asian Food Channel a few years ago. He is one of the celebrities who are down to earth and very approachable too.
The Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan is initiated by Tourism Western Australia with PNL Travel and Holiday Tours from Malaysia. This is the first gourmet tour with Chef Wan to Australia and it was a hit. There were more than twenty fans participated in this 6D 4N Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan.
Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia Day One
Day one is basically flying from Kuala Lumpur to Perth Australia. I met the entourage in KLIA and there are also fans from Singapore. We will meet together in Perth.
We took MH 125 from Kuala Lumpur to Perth and reached there in the evening. The flight was around 5 hour and 30 min and the weather was cooling in Perth. It was a pleasant flight with Malaysia Airlines, no complains.
Everyone took an early rest as Day Two everyone will start the adventure with Chef Wan. We stayed at Pan Pacific Hotel Perth.
Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia Day Two
This is the first day everyone met up with Chef Wan. Since Chef Wan is very active on Instagram and updates live from time to time, his fans from Perth got the news and waited for him at the lobby of the hotel. Their patience paid off as Chef Wan talked and took picture with them. This is the first few of many Chef Wan fans in Western Australia.
Everyone was excited to see Chef Wan in the lobby and took a group picture. Like his cooking show, Chef Wan is friendly, easy going and talkative.
Do not be surprise to see Chef Wan travelled alone with the group. There was no assistant or a manager. He travelled with everyone on his own with a luggage, his bag and his beloved Samsung Note 3.
Chef Wan being Chef Wan doing his best by sharing his stories the moment we boarded on the tour bus. The moment he speaks, it took almost an hour and without long we reached our destination, Dunsborough.
Goanna Gallery Café at Dunsborough
We made a short stop at Dunsborough as we had lunch at Goanna Gallery Café. The café is located inside the Australian bush land (Australia’s version of jungle). I liked the concept and the design of the café and how it blends in with the bush land. Thus, I loved the idea of using recycle materials to create sculptures for decorations.
The lunch in Goanna Gallery Café is amazing and unforgettable. We had the choices of Local fish and smoked salmon croquette on wilted spinach, roast tomato, dressed leaves and sauce gribiche or Sri Lankan coconut curry with prawn and baby squid, jasmine rice, chilli, bean shoot and herb salad. For dessert we had Aussie Pavlova with Seasonal fruits and cream.
Ngilgi Cave at Yallingup
After lunch, we went to Yallingup. There is one popular cave called Ngilgi Cave and it is a semi guided tour.
The interesting thing about this cave is its association with a rich Aboriginal legend describing the battle between a good spirit (Ngilgi) and an evil spirit (Wolgine) gives Ngilgi Cave its name.
The uniqueness of this cave is it is underground and not inside a hill or a mountain. Thus, we walked downwards in to the cave.
We took quite some time exploring the cave and experience stunning stalactite, stalagmite, helicitite and shawl formations. Most of them are well lit with colourful lights.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
The last destination of the day was Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and it is a guided tour. A little background on this lighthouse, it is a 20 metres high cylindrical tower built of limestone that still uses its original first order Fresnel lens made by Chance Brothers.
We got to go into the lighthouse and it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Cape Naturaliste, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and the beautiful Geographe Bay coastline reward visitors to the top balcony of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.
Easier than most lighthouses to climb, the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is one of the most popular attractions in the Geographe Bay and Margaret River Wine region. This is one of the must visit attractions in Western Australia.
Lastly, for dinner we went to Voyager Estate. This is a Gourmet Escape 2014 dinner called “East meets West”. I went there with Chef Wan and a few journalists from ASEAN.
The Voyager Estate is an absolute beauty by itself and the dinner was memorable.
Read more: Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2014 East Meets West Dinner
After dinner, we called it a day before moving to Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia Day Three.
Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia Day Three.
It was a good sleep and many thanks to the fantastic wine at “East meets West” dinner. After breakfast, the entourage moves on to Busselton Jetty.
Why are we visiting a jetty? Do you know that Busselton Jetty is the longest timer jetty/pier in the Southern Hemisphere? The heritage listed Busselton Jetty extending almost 2km over the protected waters of Geographe Bay.
You can’t see the ending of the jetty from the starting point. With the clear blue sky, Busselton Jetty is ideal for family outings and photography too.
Margaret River Farmer’s Market
After Busselton Jetty, we moved on to Margaret River to visit the Margaret River Farmer’s Market. This is the most popular Farmers Market in Margaret River.
Fresh, bargain with heaps of locally produces food and other goodies are up for grab at the market. Stalls are manned by the growers and producers themselves providing you with a diverse range of prime south west produce.
You can find many fresh food here and also some of the best local produce. This is Margaret River’s version of “pasar tani” of Malaysia.
Chef Wan met his fans here as they waited for him. His fans most of them are migrated from Malaysia and Singapore cooked some food for him and also gave him some gifts for his grandchildren. Even some of the local sellers recognized Chef Wan as he looked around the market.
Chef Wan also bumped more of his fans at Margaret River shopping arcade as he was wandering around.
Lunch at Watershed Restaurant & Café
We headed to the Watershed Winery to dine at Watershed Restaurant and Café. The vineyard is absolutely stunning with its breathtaking view of the vineyard and also the dam.
We had the tasting plate of tomato tartar, salmon and scallops followed by the choices of mains of Barramundi fish and Tagliatelle. The restaurant offers unique Australian style menu best complemented with Watershed Premium Wines.
Margaret River Gourmet Escape at Leeuwin Estate
Next we moved to the most important itinerary of the trip, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape at Leeuwin Estate.
We explored explore Margaret River Gourmet Escape at Leeuwin Estate. This year event brought to you by Siemens showcase an unparalleled line up of over 25 international and local food & wine celebrities in over 15 stunning bespoke locations and premium focus on “the world’s best”.
For a first timer like me, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape looks like a big scale food festival. Leeuwin Estate is huge but the place is still packed. It is unbelievable to see so many foodies around for this event.
Most of the best restaurants, wineries and food stalls are here and the queue is long! Everyone was sitting down almost everywhere as if it is a large picnic gathering.
As usual, Chef Wan was recognized by many of his fans and he was stopped in many occasions for pictures.
I went to VIP area with Chef Wan as we had the access to the Audi Platinum Lounge. There, Chef Wan met most of his friends such as Chef Rick Stein and Chef Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck.
The Margaret River Gourmet Escape at Leeuwin Estate is an eye opener. Chef Wan did mention that we should do similar things like this in Malaysia to promote food in our country. Our food trail didn’t stop there as we travelled to Castle Bay Beach for more food!
Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ at Castle Bay Beach
Audi Gourmet Escape BBQ is one of the highlights of 2014 Margaret River Gourmet Escape. It is one of the sold out events for Gourmet Escape 2015. I was there with the press and Chef Wan for a Gastronomic feast.
There I met Australian celebrity Anna Gare and celebrity Chef Dan Hong. It was a night of unlimited booze and palatable BBQ food fest party.
Read more: Audi Gourmet Escape BBQ Margaret River
Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia Day Four
The start of day four is to travel back to Perth but first we visited Fremantle. Fremantle is a major Australian port city in Western Australia. Fremantle is also known as Freo. The view at Freo is breathtaking, if you are into photography, you will busy snapping pictures here.
Fish & Chip Lunch at Cicerello’s Fremantle at Fishing Boat Harbour
Cicerello’s might not be a familiar name but it is the best Fish and Chip in Perth. For more than 100 years the name has meant the best fish and chips in a great location in the heart of Australia’s largest fishing boat harbour.
Cicerello’s was packed and luckily we made reservation or else we have no place to sit. The fish and chips definitely live up to its reputation. The fish and chip is deep fried to perfection and it is addictive as ever.
Don’t forget to order their deep fried calamari rings, they are equally addictive.
Chef Wan bumped to his fans again at Cicerello’s. He almost didn’t even have the chance to have his lunch as many of his fans spotted him. His fans took turn to take picture with him.
After lunch, we went shopping at Fremantle Markets. It is the moment everyone was waiting for as this is the only free time for everyone to go shopping.
Shopping at Fremantle Markets (open Fri – Sun only)
The Fremantle Markets housed in the Victorian-era building, which was listed by the National Trust of Australia and the state’s Heritage Council in 1980. In my opinion, this is the Perth’s version of Melbourne’s Victoria Market.
If you are a bargain hunter, you should not miss Fremantle Markets. You can find exquisite products of all kinds including handicrafts, specialty foods, dining halls, fish, vegetables and fruits markets.
Thus, you can find souvenirs here and this is probably the place for you to get them at a bargain price. Otherwise, you can enjoy some real good food here.
We spent quite some time here and we skipped a few sightseeing stops. Majority wants shopping so we spent a few hours here.
Outside of the Fremantle Markets are shopping arcades and shops. You can find many boutique shops, cafes and restaurants around here. After shopping, we went to the Kings Park
Kings Park is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner city parks. Kings Park is home to the spectacular Western Australian Botanic Garden, which displays over 3000 species of the State’s unique flora. Two thirds of the 400 hectare park is protected as bushland and provides a haven for native biological diversity.
The beauty of Kings Park is you can have the complete views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges to the east. Get your camera ready for some real good photographs or selfie here.
You easily spend at least half an hour exploring the park. After Kings Park, we went for dinner and called it a day.
Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia Day Five
This was the last day with Chef Wan and the most memorable day too. Why? This is the day Chef Wan will cook for everyone. Yes, he will cook for everyone live up close and personal! Before that, we departed to Swan Valley.
Swan Valley is just minutes away from Perth and popular with vineyards and over 150 places for to wine and dine but there are more to that.
First stop in Swan Valley, we went to Yahava Koffeeworks. Yahava Koffeeworks is the creation of a team of caffeine-fuelled adventurers, led by founder, ‘The Koffee Baron’ since 2001. They motive is to find the best coffee in the world and brings back to Yahava.
At Yahava, we were given a coffee tasting & roasting demonstration. For some of us, this was a great experience but to the rest, they still enjoy the cuppa of coffee. This is the definitely the place for coffee addicts.
Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery
Next, Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery. I strongly believe at most of us are not familiar with the term aboriginal or in Malaysian term is “orang asli”.
At this gallery, we can see and experience the work and some information of the aboriginals or “abo”.
There was a bushtucker presentation and also tasting experience. We got to taste of the abo’s food and also some of the exotic food such as kangaroo meat. Thus, Chef Wan was interested in the edible plants and herbs. This was educational.
We didn’t stop eating at Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery as we went to Edgecombe Bros. The beauty of Edgecombe Bros is they are more than the usual vineyard. They dedicated a small plot of their land planting asparagus. Yes, you read it right, it is asparagus.
Never in my life, I visited a asparagus farm and little did I know that they grows from the ground like a stick.
I was following Chef Wan who started to pick his own asparagus. If you want the best, you have to follow the best.
After visiting the farm, we went for the asparagus masterclass. They prepared the best asparagus from their farm and they cooked for us.
It was a simple task, stir fried and topped with sliced cheese. I never had asparagus with cheese and it was fantastic. Something you can try at home, asparagus with cheese. It is simple to cook and healthy too.
The highlight of the day is this. Chef Wan will do a cooking demonstration and he will cook for everyone and the venue is beautiful Mandoon Estate.
There was missing ingredients as prepared by the venue but it didn’t stop Chef Wan for creating three awesome dishes for everyone.
Like on TV, Chef Wan cooked while kept everyone laughing but this time we got to taste his food. He cooked two dishes, Plum Tea Cake and Chicken Couscous. Both are amazingly delicious and mouth watering.
On top of Chef Wan’s cooking demo, we got to taste Swan Valley’s local produce specially arranged by Tourism Swan Valley. Some of the local produce includes chocolates, fruit juices and jams, cheese and nuts.
Caversham Wildlife Park
Caversham Wildlife Park is operated by a family and it was a reasonably large wildlife park. Wildlife Park is different than zoo as the animals are not caged like zoo.
The wildlife park is a great place for family and friends. You can go up close and personal with the cute animals such as kangaroos, koalas and many more.
There were a few Tasmanian Devils roaming in the park too!
That marks the end of the Gourmet Adventure with Chef Wan in Western Australia. Thus, thank you Tourism Swan Valley for arranging the itinerary for the last day with Chef Wan.
It was a very memorable experience to travel with Chef Wan and the rest. Chef Wan is such a humble and funny guy. We might read so much about him but traveling with him for four days, we got to know him more. Hence, I made quite a few friends from this trip and hope to revisit Western Australia in the near future.
Lastly, I also need to thank Suzanne from Tourism Western Australia for inviting me to this trip.