Time Out Melbourne

The Big Day Out have borrowed the concept of Chow Town from sister festival Lollapalooza, creating a travelling sideshow of insanely good food

Given their formidable reputation in the Sydney foody scene, we’ve always felt that Bodega and Porteño’s Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate should have a cool superhero duo name like the “Culinary Outlaws of Chow Town”. And today, our food-groupie prayers were answered. Precisely, in fact.

It’s just been announced that Ben and Elvis will be the ambassadors of the 2013 Big Day Out’s expanded food offering, Chow Town, a concept borrowed from sister festival Lollapalooza in Chicago. The idea is this: a sideshow-style hub of great food, created by local 'name' chefs, where festival-goers can go and get something other than a Pluto Pup to scarf down as they watch the Chili Peppers and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

In Chicago, Chow Town has a mayor – a chef who curates the offering, enlisting other chefs to hawk their take on festival food at the event alongside them. But for Australia, ‘outlaws’ felt the more appropriate title when the Big Day Out landed tatted-up barbecuers Ben and Elvis for the gig.

Milgate is playing coy when it comes to exactly what he and Abrahanowicz will be serving on the day, but he promises to be “knocking out all sorts of American-style barbecue things.” And who will be joining them in Chow Town? “We’re talking with about five or six other guys, pretty well-known chefs, who were just frothing as soon as we told them – they were stoked and want to be involved. We’ll be announcing one chef every week in November.” The boys will also curate the offering at Big Day Outs in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide in Brisbane and will be bringing on board local chefs for each Chow Town.

Don’t expect fancified offerings, mind. No duck-egg this and truffle-drizzled that. “Festival food’s gotta be hand-held,” says Milgate, who’s looking forward to seeing the Chili Peppers and Vampire Weekend at the festival. “And well-priced. Healthy as well – there are plenty of other vendors out there who are offloading Dagwood dogs and hot chips. Which is cool, I love Dagwood dogs, I’ll probably polish one off on the day as well. But just simple, tasty, healthy food, made with real ingredients, not processed.”

And fast. “Of course, we’ve got 50,000 people there!”

We couldn’t let Milgate go without asking what his favourite snack is from his festival-going days.

“I remember what I was eating," he says. "And it wasn’t food.”

Stay tuned for more updates on who’ll be rolling into Chow Town.

Ben Milgate’s dream festival line-up:

Elvis Presley
Eddie Cochran
The Black Keys
Louis and the Wildfires
The Hives
Ritchie Valens
Johnny Cash
Justin Townes Earle
Kraftwerk (for co-outlaw Elvis)

Who won the bar awards?

First published on . Updated on .

By Myffy Rigby   |  

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