The menu for the 2024 Shore Leave festival is being spiced up, with new special guest chefs and new events mixed with familiar favourites. Renowned chef and restaurateur Matt Stone, a champion of culinary sustainability, will be headlining the Midwest Paddock to Plate event, replacing last year’s VIP chef Matt Moran. His passion and focus on sustainability will add a fresh and exciting edge to the event at Yanget Farm, 25km east of Geraldton. Stone says be prepared for a fun, innovative menu starring seasonal produce. “My role as a chef is to serve delicious food,” Stone said. “The less food has travelled, the better it is, and the better it is for the environment. It also means less packaging is needed. I love coming back to WA and am always inspired to work with local regional and native produce.” Stone and Yanget Farm could be a match made in heaven, with property owners Rod and Bridie O’Bree championing and practising regenerative farming methods and revitalising its waterways for the past 15 years. For the first three Shore Leave festivals, chef Brendan Pratt curated the menu for the marquee event, the Abrolhos Long Table Lunch. However, in 2024, executive chef Scott Bridger, from North Fremantle’s Bib & Tucker, is taking the reins, and like Stone, plans to have sustainability and local produce take centrestage. “I am extremely excited to be hosting the Abrolhos Long Table Lunch next year, it’s an iconic event in an outstanding location. There isn’t another event like it in Western Australia. The menu will look to celebrate the local seafood in the region and highlight its delicate unique flavours,” Bridger said. Now in its fourth year, Shore Leave will continue to extend its tentacles into the broader Mid West region. Next year, a new event in an extended line-up will be Dongara Distilled, a cocktail dining soiree hosted by acclaimed WA chef Melissa Palinkas. It celebrates local award-winning Illegal Tender Rum Co. and Stableviews distillery. “We’re excited to showcase our award-winning rum to visitors coming to Shore Leave Festival,” Hayley Palmer from Illegal Tender Rum Co. said. “Melissa has created a menu that complements its unique flavour and celebrates its Mid West origins.” More than 30 events are planned for the 2024 festival over five packed days in April, ranging from fine-dining experiences, tours, markets, cooking demonstrations, back-of-boat sales, live music and kids’ workshops. Once again, The Helm will be the event’s headquarters, offering daily food and entertainment options. Shore Leave has received three years of State Government funding from 2022 to 2024, through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program. Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti urged people to hit the Coral Coast for a road trip to remember, and include Shore Leave on their itinerary. “I’m really excited to see Shore Leave return for its fourth year — this event is a fantastic showcase of the world-class culinary offerings in WA’s beautiful Mid West region, which is known for its delicious seafood,” she said. “Geraldton sits on WA’s Coral Coast Highway, one of Australia’s great scenic drives, and I encourage travellers to hit the road next April, as part of an iconic WA road trip holiday.” Regional Development Minister Don Punch said Shore Leave helped “amplify the Mid West region’s profile, providing an important boost for local tourism, hospitality and accommodation businesses”. “Festival attendees will be treated to a bounty of premium local seafood over the weekend, all of which is caught locally and sustainably in our Mid West fisheries, which contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually to WA’s economy,” he said. Tourism Geraldton Midwest chairman Josh Johnson declared Shore Leave 2024 was set to be “the biggest festival yet”. “The support locally for the festival is high and it’s great to see so many local tour operators, businesses and locals getting behind the festival and supporting its continued growth,” he said. Shore Leave festival will take place between April 24 to 28 next year. Tickets go on sale from Friday, November 17. Go to shoreleave.com.au.