Northern NSW’s premier food event, Sample Food Festival returns to the Bangalow Showgrounds on Saturday 2nd September 2023 offering attendees a taste of some of the best restaurants in the region and a range of imaginative and immersive experiences.

Many of the Sample Food Festival workshops will have a focus on sustainability this year. Participants will be able to learn how to use natural and sustainable fibres to craft their very own wall art or wearable art with Bundjalung cultural weaver Tania Marlowe in the Weaving a Wall Piece Workshops. The festival is also offering a workshop led by Byron Bay jewellery brand Edie and Bill. In this workshop attendees will learn how to transform recycled coffee pods and magazines into stunning, one-of-a-kind earrings.

Explore Byron Bay will be putting on two special Sample Food Festival Bush Tucker Tours as part of the workshop program this year. Participants will be able to join Arakwal woman Delta Kay for a special bush tucker tour along the stunning Byron Creek located at Bangalow Parklands. Not only can they enjoy tasting a range of traditional foods, as well as a selection of local native food products but they will also get to see some of their foraged ingredients used back at the festival by Guest Chefs on the Sample Food Festival cooking stage.

Festival partners The Cellar will be holding two small Rosé blending classes at the festival. Bookings for these classes are limited and can be made at The Cellar stall on the day.

In what is set to be one of the festival highlights this year, some of the region’s most celebrated chefs will be going head to head in a series of live cook-offs on the Sample Food Festival cooking stage.

Jason Saxby, Executive Chef of Raes on Wategos will be matched up against Joachim Borenius. During Jason’s tenure, Raes Dining Room have earned numerous accolades including “Hottest Regional Restaurant” in The Australian Hottest 50 in 2019 and a coveted Chef’s Hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2023. ‘The Viking chef’ Joachim Borenius recently made the seachange to Byron Bay in 2022 where he successfully launched Light Years Asian Diner in Jonson Lane, before heading over to the Light Years group’s latest, The Smoking Camel who are on the festival’s restaurant line-up this year.

Chef Alastair “Ally” Waddell, who leads the kitchen at Frida’s Field will be versing Jordan Staniford, Executive Chef at Forest, Crystalbrook Byron. Both Chefs have strong connections with local producers with Ally’s menus showcasing his classical training and deft skills in creating delicious, produce-driven cuisine and Jordan’s menus featuring seasonal produce with a twist, highlighting the abundance of the Northern Rivers’ region.

Pixie Byron Bay’s Head Chef Diana Desensi will be showcasing her love of Australian and Italian flavours in a match up against Matthew Kemp, Beach Hotel Byron Bay. After enriching experiences at the likes of Cargo, Grossi Florentino, Pt Leo Estate and Montalto, Diana made the move to Byron Bay in 2022 to join the team at Pixie Food & Wine. Matthew hails from the UK where he received Michelin-star training before taking the helm of Sydney establishment Banc and opening his own venue, Restaurant Balzac. Matt’s move to the Northern Rivers has included a role as Executive Chef at the Byron at Byron (now Crystalbrook) and Tweed Coast’s PLB Group (Taverna, Osteria, Baked at Ancora and Bombay Cricketers Club)

Ben Pollard, Group Head Chef for Trader House has been announced as a special Guest Chef and will be judging the restaurant tasting plates at the festival for the Annual Golden Fork Awards. Ben began his career in the Northern Rivers, working under Tippy Heng and alongside Ben and Belinda Kirkwood at Dish Restaurant in Byron Bay before cutting his teeth as an apprentice at Rockpool Sydney in the early 2000s, honing his skills as both chef and manager under Neil Perry. He is currently settled in Melbourne where he oversees the operations of the various Trader House establishments including Supernormal in Brisbane which it set to open in 2024.

There will also be a number of cocktail making demonstrations on the day featuring local distilleries including Winding Road Distilling Co., Brookies and Lord Byron Distillery.

This year’s restaurant line-up includes A Chef’s Pocket, Bruno’s Bellingen, The Smoking Camel, Harvest Newrybar, No Bones, Federal Doma Café, Kelp Restaurant, Hey Lady Diner, Livemore Deli, Natural Ice-Cream Australia, Quattro, North Byron Hotel, Mr Maurice, Yulli’s Byron Bay, Bombay to Byron, Dinner is Served, Nimbin Valley Dairy, Taco Love Bros, Yummify, Authentic South Indian Food, Berlin Bangers, Matcha Man, Shoza Gyoza, OMG! Donuts Byron Bay and Thai Marquee.

Sample Food Festival will also be showcasing the region’s award-winning distilleries including Winding Road Distilling Co., Cape Byron Distillery and Lord Byron Distillery as well as beverages on offer from Stone and Wood Brewery, Little Dragon Ginger Beer, The Cellar, Frank’s Cider and Aurum Mead Byron Bay who will be launching their range this month.

Tickets for the workshops and festival are now on sale including a Picnic Rug Hire Package for groups of up to six and include festival entry and a reserved picnic spot in the main restaurant precinct on a Wandering Folk picnic rug. This year the Sample Food Festival is also offering a kid’s creative pass for entry into a dedicated area suitable for ages 3 -12. This will feature take home arts and crafts, sensory play and interactive games.
The Sample Food Festival market stalls will also be returning and will feature a selection of passionate and innovative local artisans and producers.

Attendees will able to take a short stroll down the hill to The Bowlo Bangalow who are holding the official Sample Food Festival After Party from 4pm.

Sample Food Festival 2023

Date: Saturday 2 September, 2023
Time: 8am – 4pm
Location: Bangalow Showground, 1 Market Street, Bangalow 2479

Festival Tickets:

Pre-sale tickets are $5 per Adult + BF (child – 16 years and under free)
Picnic Package $80 + BF includes entry for up to six people, a reserved picnic spot in the main food precinct and Wandering Folk picnic rug hire. Morning and afternoon sessions
Ultimate Kids Creative Pass Early Bird Price $10 + BF Great for ages 3 – 12 includes take home arts and crafts, sensory play and interactive games.


Weaving a Wall Piece Workshop 10am & 1:30pm Saturday 2nd September 2023 at the Sample Food Festival Bangalow. This workshop is recommended for 16+ years and workshop attendees must have an entry ticket to Sample Food Festival as well.

Sustainable Earring Workshop 9am & 1pm Saturday 2nd September 2023 at the Sample Food Festival Bangalow. This workshop is recommended for 14+ years and workshop attendees must have an entry ticket to Sample Food Festival as well.

Sample Food Festival Bush Tucker Tours 9am & 10:30am Saturday 2nd September at Bangalow Weir Parklands – Deacon Street, Bangalow. Tickets via Explore Byron Bay and includes entry into Sample Food Festival. Bookings are essential and spaces are limited.

The Cellar Rosé Blending Class 11am & 12:15pm at The Cellar Marquee. $20 per head and places are limited. You can book your spot at their stall on the day.

For information on how to purchase festival and workshop tickets, further announcements and updates visit and @samplefoodevents