MasterChefs at strawberry festival
Downtown Auckland will be painted red with sweet treats on November 28 as Mercy Hospice Auckland holds its annual Strawberry Festival.
Sweet-toothed passers-by will be able to pick up punnets of fresh strawberries and icecream and chat to celebrity foodies in a bid to raise the funds needed for this year's operational costs.
Queen Elizabeth II Square is set to transform into a vibrant market village with detectable strawberry treats, strawberry angel Christmas ornaments and other strawberry-related fare for sale.
MasterChef winners Brett McGregor and Nadia Lim and this year's finalist Ana Schwartz are among the celebrity chefs rolling up their sleeves for the event.
The festival is the perfect excuse to take a break and celebrate the beginning of summer, Ms Lim says. She will be chipping in on the day serving up strawberries and icecream.
As a nutritionist, Ms Lim could be forgiven for turning her nose up at the sweet combination but she says treats are good in moderation.
''Strawberries are great - they're full of antioxidants - and there's nothing wrong with a bit of ice cream.
''Ice cream is a strawberry's best friend.''
Ms Lim is an avid supporter of Hospice and says she does whatever she can to help.
''The staff are such a pleasure to work with and I am in awe of the great work they do. It must be a tough job that requires a very caring heart.''
She recently volunteered her culinary skills to help Mercy Hospice provide a terminally ill patient and 11 of her friends and family with a dinner to remember.
''Food is an integral and wonderful way of bringing people together'', she says.
Fellow MasterChef winner Chelsea Winter is also looking forward to flying the Hospice flag high at the festival.
''What better way to do it than with beautiful fresh strawberries?,'' she says.
''I just love the idea of people being treated to something outside of their normal lunchtime fare. It's a great lively atmosphere down there and I think people will really enjoy it.''
The one-day festival runs from 8am-4pm in Queen Elizabeth II Square, downtown Auckland.