Interview With Matt Wilkinson, Peninsula Picnic Chef

The rather brilliant looking food, wine and music gathering that is the Peninsula Picnic is happening this Sunday. Those who attend will be given the opportunity to discover the hidden gems from the region’s leading producers, growers, orchardists and gourmet store-owners set to the sounds of some great live Australian music. You can read our preview here.

We took some time out with Matt Wilkinson of Pope Joan, one of the chefs who will be cooking up a storm at the festival, to chat about some of the questions we’d had about the event and the man himself.

matt wilkinson peninsula picnic

The Peninsula Picnic is unique in that the food is just as much of a focus as the music. What have you got planned for the event?

We are bringing a beautiful autumnal fattoush salad, two sandwiches (one with beef and hot rod sauce and the other a toasted cheese with ploughmans pickle). And luckily it’s looking like it’ll be warm because we have our infamous smoked yoghurt soft serve ice cream with raspberries and pistachios. All dishes will be offered with a suggested wine/beer match too.

How does preparing for a festival differ from what you usually do?

It’s loco but so much fun. We have done a few now and the prep is basically looking at the food and saying ‘there is no way we will sell all of this’ then you wonder where it all went by the end of the huge day! We love doing festivals as they’re always busy and fun.

How has the Mornington Peninsula’s produce influenced your menu for the Peninsula Picnic?

At Pope Joan we are all about local as in getting as much as we can from small-scale producers. A little bit of everything is from the area or just close by so local ingredients – in this case Mornington Peninsula produce – are central to everything we do, always.

Which bands are you most looking forward to checking out?

I’m hoping to listen to the Pope Joans, we give out a hell of a tune and are thinking about jumping on stage if we are allowed or the security doesn’t stop us…

The City Lane is based in Brunswick so we’re pretty excited about your new venture at the Tip Top complex. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Basically Jack Horner will look like a new-age milk bar with a deli and take-away food canteen. I’m super pumped about it.

peninsula picnic mornington

Tickets to the Peninsula Picnic are available from Ticketec and full details on the event can be found on the official website.

Oh and if you weren’t yet decided about whether or not you should go to the event, we’ve managed to get our hands on the menu and it looks amazing. Here’s just a few examples of the dishes that will be on offer on Sunday beyond what Matt’s cooking up. Consider yourself informed.


Tiramisu With Main Ridge Dairy Cashmere Goats Curd, Mascarpone & Montenegro
Suggested Wine: Bass and Flinders Distillery Limoncello

Max’s At Red Hill Estate

Pulled Lamb Shoulder, Pickled Apple & Crisp Organic Kale Salad, Cashmere Dressing On House Made Roll
Suggested Wine: Elgee Park, 2010 Family Reserve Cabernet Merlot

Terminus At Flinders Hotel

Soft Shell Crab Slider With Harissa Mayonnaise
Suggested Wine: Circe, 2011 Hillcrest Chardonnay

Ian Curley (Executive Chef at the European)

Char Siu Pork Belly Buns, Pickles & Hoisin
Suggested Wine: Crittenden Estate, 2013 Peninsula Chardonnay

Peninsula Picnic

When: Sunday 29 March 2015

Entry: Adults, $74; Children 5-17 years, $12; Children under 5, free, MRC members, $54

Where: Mornington Racecourse, Mornington



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