IT WAS hard to wipe the smile from Jim Berardo's face as the 10th Noosa International Food and Wine Festival came to a close yesterday afternoon.
The Noosa restaurateur and festival director was delighted this year's event had exceeded his expectations.
Brilliant weather and the presence of some of the nation's top chefs ensured record crowds turned out for the festival and Mr Berardo said he was most thrilled to see so many young people getting excited about food.
"We have three generations of people now, thank God, young people are now back into food, which is great, so we have three generations of people to cater for," he said.
"I think so far what I'm feeling and hearing is that we've hit that mark pretty well."
One of the biggest crowd pleasers was the community spirit, he said.
"The great thing about this festival, compared to others in the country, and in fact the world, is we don't put chefs on pedestals here, or on big stages," he said.
"You walk around and you can rub elbows and talk with chefs; they're all approachable."
While the presence of TV chefs such as Matt Moran, Adriano Zumbo, Tetsuya Wakuda and Matt Preston were major drawcards for festivalgoers, Mr Berardo said he began the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival 10 years ago to celebrate food producers rather than chefs.
"The reality is the producers do all of the hard work and the chefs in the restaurants get all the glory, and so for us this is a way to give them some glory and say thank you," he said.
"We've stuck with that mantra the whole way through, now we're not just local producers but the delicious produce winners and finalists are all in the main marquee here, about 50 of them from all over the country.
"So it's a salute to all the people who make great food happen; the producers."
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