Celeb chefs wow Pilbara island crowd

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
Celebrity chef Pete Manifis cooking up a paella on the Mackerel Islands.
Camera IconCelebrity chef Pete Manifis cooking up a paella on the Mackerel Islands. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

With no shoes in sight and plenty of turtles frolicking in the shallows, the Mackerel Islands proved the perfect place to unwind after a busy weekend in Onslow.

The Shire of Ashburton and Chevron-backed Passion of the Pilbara biennale headed out to the Mackerel Islands for the first time last weekend, turning the island getaway into an intimate setting for about 80 guests to soak up the mild sun, relaxed tunes and gourmet food on offer.

Fitzroy Xpress took to the stage on Saturday night.
Camera IconFitzroy Xpress took to the stage on Saturday night. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Thevenard Island’s main beach provided the stage for a barefoot Mikey Smith to put on a passionate morning set, capped off when a mother humpback whale and calf cruised on by 200m off the coast.

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Celebrity chefs Pete Manifis, Jesse Blake and Ben Bullock cooked up the mother of all barbecue feasts, with paella, mackerel, zucchini, gourmet snags and salads plated up for the guests.

Mackerel Islands island manager Steph Toy said the “island vibes” brought a unique element to the festival.

Kids entertainers at Passion of the Pilbara.
Camera IconKids entertainers at Passion of the Pilbara. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

“To be spoilt by the place, by the celebrity chefs and by the live music has been a real buzz for everyone here,” she said.

“This is definitely the perfect location to hold a casual, family friendly festival.”

Passion of the Pilbara festival ran over three days this year, starting with an opening ceremony and performance from “Fingers” Mitchell Cullen at the sports club on Friday night.

The sweet popcorn dancers.
Camera IconThe sweet popcorn dancers. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

The action picked up at Thalanyji Oval and the BHP Fishbowl on Saturday.

Performers such as the Merindas, Fitzroy Xpress, KC Smalltown and Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey serenaded festivalgoers as they indulged in rides, food vans, stalls and kids’ activities throughout the day.

Shire president Kerry White said the festival was a celebration of a vibrant community.

Celebrity chef Ben Bullock.
Camera IconCelebrity chef Ben Bullock. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

“In addition to celebrating our strong community spirit, Passion of the Pilbara also shines a spotlight on the unique lifestyle experiences our town provides to both residents and visitors,” she said.

Chevron Wheatstone asset manager Rob Dobrik said the event encouraged involvement in the Onslow community.

Mikey Smith playing at the Mackerel Islands.
Camera IconMikey Smith playing at the Mackerel Islands. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

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