The Merbein Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph is a celebration of iconic Aussie baking recipes – with a distinctly modern twist.
Held on the outskirts of Mildura, Victoria, the event attracts huge numbers ever year. Last year’s event brought in around 12,000 people from as far as South Australia and New South Wales. With Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio owner and pastry extraordinaire Darren Purchase lined up as this year’s event ambassador, crowds are expected to break all records.
It’s no longer just about vanilla slices. The event now incorporates the National Dried Vine Fruit Bake-Off for home bakers through to professionals – a boost for the region’s dried fruit sector.
Former chief judge, EOI area bakery manager Jason Riley, said there was a consistently high standard across all categories, with entries in the innovative section particularly impressive.
“Bakers are only limited by their imagination when it comes to presentation as well as colours and flavours,” he said at the 2014 event, noting a chocolate chilli-filled vanilla slice as one of the most unorthodox.
“This annual competition not only keeps a bakery staple alive, but keeps customers engaged and excited by suburban artisan and independent bakeries.”
This is the fifth year the festival is being held in Merbein after being moved from its original home in Ouyen, where it had a long a proud history. The event was born out of complimentary remark by then Victorian premier Jeff Kennett who, who tasted a vanilla slice at the Ouyen Bakery and famously declared it an exceptional product. Since then, the event has grown in stature, and its now celebrated by national media and celebrity pastry chefs, including Adriano Zumbo.