Skip to content
24 Jan 2018

You say tomato, we say Tomato Festival Sydney!

Sydney’s favourite harbourside festival, the Tomato Festival Sydney, returns to the Royal Botanic Garden for its fifth year on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 February 2018, set on the spectacular foreshore lawns in the Garden.

Botanically a fruit, but classified as a berry, the tomato is an indispensable part of our lives and enjoyed the world over. From salads to sauces, pizza to pastas, the tomato has become a versatile staple in the diet of many. 

The Tomato Festival Sydney is all about local and seasonal produce, heirloom varieties, bush tucker, as well as growing and preserving the season’s bounty in an imaginative and accessible way.

This in turn, can change behaviour and drive a passion for food, where it comes from and an understanding of the important role plants play in our lives – which is essentially our mission as a botanic garden! 

What can you expect in 2018?

In 2018 there will be new features to entice you back as well as Festival favourites. As usual we are celebrating all things tomato but this year we are also bringing you tomato-inspired brunches and lunches, a new film screening, new gardening talks and cooking demonstrations, free guided tours, children’s activities, produce stalls, tastings and SO much more – all with a new theme of edible gardens!

This year’s key speakers at the Cooking and Learning Hub are the amazing Indira Naidoo on edible Gardens in small spaces, Chef Luca Ciano, Alex Elliott-Howery, Cornersmith, and Jody Orcher on native bush tucker. Find out more about the Cooking and Learning Hub below.


Brunch, Lunch and Blood Mary's

As this festival is all about the tomato-inspired food, there are plenty of food options. Two events not to be missed are the Tomato Degustation Brunch at Botanic Gardens Restaurant, and the Longest Tomato Lunch both taking place on the Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 February.

Start the day with a Bloody Mary and let Head Chef, Matt Fletcher's delicious tomato-filled menu tantalise your taste-buds before heading off to enjoy the Festival. For lunch join us at our 70-metre-long table and be part of the ever-popular Longest Tomato Lunch from 12.30 – 2.30 pm. 

Enjoy a three-course tomato inspired Italian lunch designed by the 2 Michelin Stars and multi-award-winning chef, Luca Ciano. The menu includes share plates and individual items, replicating a traditional Italian family feast. Relax, sit back and enjoy a long lunch with great company, live music while looking out over the most spectacular botanic garden and harbour in the world. 

Stroll around the festival

We also have the Relish ‘pop-up’ cafe & bar featuring innovative tomato inspired dishes. The Dessertmakers are back with mouth- watering desserts that are 100% natural with no preservatives.

Naturally, there are plenty of opportunities for you to taste tomatoes at the Tomato Festival! Put your palate to the test and take part in the free Diggers Heirloom Tomato Taste Test (11.30 am - 1.00 pm daily). 

Get your cook on at the Festival!

Consider yourself a Masterchef? We are looking for the nation’s best tomatoes, home-made tomato sauces, relishes and chutneys.  Put your talent to the test and submit your creation to be judged this year by Ashley Hughes, Executive Chef, The Trippas White Group, Alex Elliott-Howery, owner Cornersmith and Luca Ciano, 2 Michelin Star and award winning chef . We have three competitions to enter:

  • Tomato Relish/Chutney Challenge

  • Tomato Passata Sauce Challenge

  • Best in Show Home-grown Tomatoes

Support your locals artisans!

Stroll through the produce market for an incredible range of local producers and artisans with lots to taste and buy including regional olive oils and condiments from the Hunter Valley, smoked garlic and sea salt, local cultured butter, pickles and preserves, luscious cheeses, nougat, sourdough bread, chilli and pasta sauces.

Meet the Makers:

  • Pukara Estate: from the Upper Hunter Valley produce a wonderful range of distinctive regional olive oils, vinegar and condiments.

  • The Original Smoke & Spice Company:  sell a range of delicious smoked condiments including garlic and fermented Black garlic, smoked solar sea salt and lemon smoked solar sea salt.

  • Donna Does: specialising in exciting all-natural, homemade chutneys, jams, pickles and relishes.

  • The Chilli Effect: working with local chilli growers to bring a gourmet sauce range that combines the fresh flavours of hot fresh chillies with great spices and herbs.

  • Cornersmith: food is about following the seasons, not the latest fad. It’s about opening your eyes to the bounty available in your own neighbourhood and showing you best how to use it. Pickles and preserves available for sale as well as a tomato preserving demonstration in the Cooking & Learning Hub.

  • Pepe Saya Butter Co.: specialises in cultured butter made using the best local milk. The ‘culture’ in Pepe’s butter is the good bacteria (lactobacillus) which is added to the cream, fermented for 24 hours and left to ripen over 3 weeks. The cultures eat the sugar (Lactose) in the cream and turns it into lactic acid (souring the cream), which adds flavour to the butter. Fermented, Perfected then Churned.

  • Nougat Royale: before embarking on Nougat Royale, Ben honed his craft working with some of Sydney’s finest chefs, including Phillip Searle (Bentley Bar, Monopole and Yellow House) at Vulcans and Matt Moran at Moran’s and Aria.

  • Luca Ciano: passion, talent and great sense of humour are just a few words to describe the 2 Michelin Stars and multi award winning, Chef Luca Ciano. A range of his specialty pasta sauces will be available to taste and buy. “My wish, my mission is to have my finished product just like I would make and cook at home, for you to experience, enjoy, and share with your friends and family.” - Luca Ciano –​

  • Sonoma: artisan sourdough bakers. In a loaf of Sonoma sourdough there's freshly-milled flour, filtered water, sourdough starter and sea salt. In the people who bake it there's passion and integrity. Together, it’s a simple recipe for enduring quality.

  • Visit the Growing Friends stall for a wide range of potted plants including widely-popular Heartbreaker tomatoes and herbs as well as plants propagated from the Garden’s living collection.

New in 2018
  • Vannella Cheese Australia: Vito, the founder of Vannella Cheese Australia, began stretching and moulding formaggio in the Puglian town of Conversano in the 1970s, when he was just a teenager. After being taught by the master craftsmen in Lazio, Vito returned with the cheese handcrafting traditions that won him European awards. Today he brought his family’s tradition of handcrafted cheese to Australia and to the Tomato Festival Sydney. They will have a range of their specialty cheeses as well as their Mozzarella bar serving two dishes: Scamorza Chips and Caprese Salad.

  • Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing: born after Matt and Lara returned from Maui, having been inspired by the vibrant energy of the Hawaiian Islands and the way they felt after drinking the local kombucha. Kombucha is an ancient beverage produced by the aerobic fermentation of tea with raw sugar. It has been referred to as the ‘Tea of Immortality’. Matt and Lara will be creating some special tomato inspired brews for the Festival.

  • Prosciutto di Parma: since Roman times, this geographically protected food became world renowned for its delicate and sweet flavour. Prosciutto di Parma producers are only located around Parma, within the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, where the mountain air is sweet, dry and aromatic.

  • Harris Farm Markets:  a range of delicious heirloom and other tomato varieties will be available. 

  • Beeswax Wraps Australia: the amazing eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap. Washable reusable and more manageable than plastic.

  • Healthy Buddha Gardens: handcrafted Buddha Boxes waterproofed and ready-to-plant are made from recycling old fence palings and posts, bringing old hardwoods back to life. They are full of rustic charm and come in a blend of different coloured hardwoods and textures. Perfect for creating your edible garden.

Find more information about The Tomato Festival Sydney here

If you are a journalist and have a media enquiry about this story, please click here for contact details and more information.