When it comes to bringing Australia’s culture, cuisine, music and lifestyle to Vietnam, the Australian Embassy and Consulate like to do it big. With this year marking the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, April’s extravaganza is going to be bigger and better than ever.
We spoke to the Australian ambassador to Vietnam, HE Mr Craig Chittick, to get his thoughts.
What are your personal hopes for this year’s Taste of Australia?
Last year’s Taste of Australia was very successful, comprising 24 official events and 44 partner events throughout Vietnam. This year our programme keeps growing. It’s bigger and better than ever, expanding to more cities in Vietnam and reaching out to a wider audience to give everyone a unique opportunity to taste and experience Australian’s cuisine, culture, music and lifestyle. It will also give Australian and Vietnamese producers, retailers, distributors and restaurants a greater chance to work with each other and to showcase the best of Australia in Vietnam.
Who are you hoping to come to the various events? Who are the events aimed at?
Our national programme comprises of a variety of events for all types of audiences. Our public events include a Wine and Food Journey, Nosh Supperclub Dinners and Aussie BBQs, as well as all our partners’ fantastic restaurant events and promotions. This year we’re also expanding the concept of ‘Taste’ to include Australian music, and we are proud to have Australian-Vietnamese pianist Van-Anh Nguyen performing at a Music and Wine Pairing on Apr. 3 and at the Taste of Australia Epic Aussie Brunch on Apr. 8 in Ho Chi Minh City.
Aussie singer-songwriter Nick Barker will be performing at the Taste of Australia Danang Community BBQ on Apr. 22, and watch out for a big-name Aussie star at the Hue Festival this year.
The signature Taste of Australia Culinary Competition will be held again this year, attracting culinary students from across Vietnam to compete for a huge prize — a full scholarship to study in Australia. We also host industry-focused events, exposing food and beverage industry leaders across the country to new, premium Australian products in the market that they can add to their menus or highlight in their restaurants.
Why is it so important to promote the various offerings Australia has to the public in Vietnam?
Something that I think Australians and Vietnamese have in common is our love of great food. I’ve been delighted to see how popular Australian produce is here, from fruits such as our juicy grapes and cherries to our world-class beef and dairy. Australian products have become essential ingredients in many Vietnamese foods — 70 percent of all wheat in Vietnamese banh mi and almost 100 percent of wheat in mi noodles is Australian.
Australian companies also have a strong record for innovation and are keen to develop new business opportunities in technology-related fields in Vietnam, including in agribusiness. Australia is already well-known in Vietnam for our top-quality educational institutions — over 23,000 Vietnamese students study in Australia each year — and we are working with Vietnam to meet its vocational training aspirations, particularly in hospitality and the culinary arts.
Which events are you looking forward to the most? Why?
The Taste of Australia Culinary Competition final is always my favourite. Bringing together aspiring young chefs from across Vietnam and really seeing them grow throughout the competition is inspiring. And they have the opportunity to cook in some of the best hotels in Vietnam.
In 2017 two former street kids from Koto Hanoi won the competition and received a trip to Australia to experience the best of Australian culinary education and cuisine. This year the stakes are even higher as students will be competing for two full, two-year scholarships to study at the William Blue College of Hospitality Management and Blue Mountains International Hotel School in Sydney.
What will make this year’s Taste of Australia special?
2018 is a special year for Taste of Australia as coincides with the 45th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam. The 45th anniversary year will be celebrated throughout 2018, showcasing the strength and diversity of the Australia-Vietnam relationship through a range of cultural, tourism, economic and innovation-themed events. This year we are also opening Australia’s largest aid project in mainland Southeast Asia, the Cao Lanh Bridge in Dong Thap province.