Sunday, February 5, 2023

A Food Influencer’s Guide to the Capital – Wellingnom’s Picks for Wellington on a Plate

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Now in its 13th year, Wellington on a Plate always delivers for the foodies with events such as Burger Wellington, Dine Wellington and Cocktail Wellington, and it’s a great excuse to head to the Capital for a true epicurian weekend away!

This year’s theme is one for the improvisers, the fresh thinkers, the misfits, the rebellious, those who dance to their own tune and go against the grain. It’s surprising, challenging, different, new, adventurous, exotic, momentous, delicious and curious – Out of Place.

We’ll be heading down to check it out, but before we go out and buy pants one size up in preparation, we spoke to Wellington’s leading food influencer Wellingnoms (Kalliana Kong) to get the low-down on what’s good, what you simply can’t miss, and what life’s like as a food influencer!

Tell me a little about Wellingnoms – how you started in the food influencer world and what it is about food reviewing (and eating, I suppose!) that you love so much

I started Wellingnoms in 2015 with one of my best friends (and then work colleague) Hannah, we started it to spend time together and try new places around town. The beginning of Wellingnoms also coincided with the Wellington on a Plate festival, so we weren’t short of places to eat. Hannah moved to Brisbane almost two years ago and I’ve carried on the page solo.

I love all aspects of food. I enjoy cooking it, eating it, reading about it and talking about it. Food is also how my parents showed me love, that’s carried on with me, food is also my love language. So, being able to share that with people, is awesome. I’m still genuinely surprised when people ask me for my recommendations either via DM or in person – especially if it is for a special occasion. The best thing about Wellingnoms is the friends that I have made along the way – I’ve been lucky to meet several people, other food influencers and small business owners that I have worked with through the platform, who have become good friends. 

If someone was to eat just one meal in Wellington, where would you tell them to go and what would you tell them to eat? 

This is such a hard question! I feel like it depends on the occasion, but my go-to will always be the Mee Goreng from Little Penang. I love it with chicken, but I have it on good authority that the vege version is just as delicious. 

Master Kong

Visa Wellington on a Plate has to be highlight in the foodie calendar? What can first-timers expect? 

Visa Wellington on a Plate is Christmas, Birthdays and Anniversaries all rolled into one for me – it is my favourite time of the year. First-timers can expect to see a plethora of choices, especially when it comes to the Burger Wellington part of the festival. If you are the type of person who has trouble choosing between multiple options, you might struggle – so, my advice is to do your research, create a wish list and plan your time well. 

Wellingnom’s top picks for Visa Wellington on a Plate 2021:

Girls’ weekend away: 

Sex and Food – nothing says girls’ night out like dinner and a show, darling! There’s bound to be treats galore and with Hugo Grrl, one of the best cabaret producers in the country, behind the production of the burlesque show – it will be an entertaining night to remember.

Welly Boutique Wine Festival – what better way to experience all the great wine in the region than at a boutique wine festival on the waterfront. Add tapas and live music, sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon with friends.

Cinderella and Her Lovely Sisters – very cool to see three iconic Auckland bars popping up at Cinderella, any of the sessions are bound to be a great time.

Romantic date:

In Time and Place – This multi-sensory event will have you embracing your inner sweet tooth. No romantic date night is complete without dessert and this event has four courses of romance! 

Current Food, Current Mood – This event sounds like date night on another level, five courses designed to represent different emotions with a complete sensory experience.

Three Martini Lunch – A long lunch with two of Wellington’s most iconic spots – Hawthorne and Ortega FIsh Shack – absolute perfection, my ideal daytime date. 

Lulu Bar

Lad’s trip:

Up Inn Smoke – Good things take time and low and slow BBQ is one of them. Matt is an extremely talented pitmaster so this is the perfect event for BBQ enthusiasts.

Beervana – the quintessential event for all those who are fond of the craft that is beer and an equally extremely fun atmosphere for those who are just getting into it.

Enter The Dragon – probably one of the most iconic events in the VWOAP line-up, a night of yum cha and beers with a side of 90’s and early 2000’s bangers. What’s not to love? 

A family affair:

It’ll Be Sweet – my nephew’s birthday is in August and I always get him a ticket for an event where he can get his hands stuck in and learn a skill. This year I picked this event for him because what kid doesn’t want to learn how to make ice cream?!

Chocolatier for the Day – A real Willy Wonka moment at an actual chocolate factory hidden down a Wellington laneway, a magical way to spend an afternoon with the family.

Snap, Crackle and Pop Up! – Novelty breakfast cereals seem to have our hearts so let’s give them our stomachs too. Plus, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, even if it’s loaded with sugar. 

Refinery Bar & Eatery

What the true foodies shouldn’t miss:

Gochu 2 U – I’ve been to Gochu in Auckland and I loved every single bite that I was served so am excited to see what they bring to their pop up at Shepherd.

Bar Salonika – Field and Green has a knack for transforming their menu during the festival period to tell a story and explore the diaspora of Jewish cuisine. Their pop ups are always educational and delicious

Chaat Street – Indian food is often underrated so I was excited to see several pop ups and events focusing on this cuisine. I’ve never been let down by an event at LTD so have high hopes for this pop up.

The best slice of Wellington:

Taste of Homies – Taste of Home consistently serves up some of the best noodles in the city from their tiny premises so I am keen to see what they can do in a bigger kitchen like the one at Shepherd. I feel like this event will be an immediate sell-out, you’ll need fast fingers to get tickets.

Tokyo Nights – The super exclusive Townhouse Ramen popping up for a whole month is a treat for anyone who has lusted after their bowls of noodle perfection. They’re teaming up with Grace Patisserie as well, so dessert is sure to be on point too.

Flavours of Syria – Hidden away in Vogeltown is a family run middle-eastern restaurant, Damascus, which comes with very high praises from foodies all over Wellington. Middle-eastern food is having a very deserved moment and I love the sound of this all-you-can-eat Syrian feast, it reminds me of family meals at my own home. 

Pre-sale tickets are on sale now, with general sales from 21 June – click here for more information

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