Heston Blumenthal.

The State Government will today announce the appointment of a British-based event manager to stage a big, new annual international food and wine festival for Margaret River in November.

The event will attract some of the world's best chefs including Heston Blumenthal and the world's No. 1 restaurateur, Rene Redzepi, from Noma restaurant in Denmark.

Arguably the most recognised chef in the world, Blumenthal says he cannot wait to return to WA. "Margaret River is one of the jewels of Australia," he said. "It has amazing wines and amazing produce."

Other chefs understood to be in discussions with the organisers are Alex Atala, from D.O.M. restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Perth's Matt Stone, Leeuwin Estate's Dany Angove, Melbourne chef Justin North of Becasse restaurant and MasterChef judge and restaurateur George Calombaris.

Up to 30 chefs are expected to be signed to the event in the next few weeks. "Talks are under way with many more of the world's and Australia's top chefs and a number of culinary and wine celebrities," Tourism Minister Kim Hames said.

Final contracts were exchanged between the event manager, Brand Events, and Eventscorp yesterday.

To be called the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, it will be partly funded by Royalties for Regions cash and administered by Eventscorp. Critics, led by Consuming Passions TV chef Ian Parmenter, have expressed concerns that the London-based Brand Events may not have the local knowledge or industry contacts to stage such an ambitious event.

Late yesterday _The Weekend West _briefed Consuming Passions director and event manager David Evans on the scope of the event, after which he was keen to lend it his "considered support". "WA needs something big and important like this. If these guys can deliver what they say, then fantastic," he said.

The public centrepiece of the Gourmet Escape weekend will be the Gourmet Village on the lawns at Leeuwin Estate. All the chef superstars will be making appearances at the village during the event.

"We're expecting 10,000 people to attend the village over the two days of the festival, where they can see the chefs cooking and a series of talks and presentations by winemakers, cheesemakers and food and wine identities," Brand's managing director Australia, Michael Hodgson, said.

Other events include a beach barbecue cooked by the top chefs, a long-table lunch among the vines, chef tours of wineries and restaurants and concerts and live music performances. <div class="endnote">

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The West Australian

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