The Night Market and Sydney Table hit Carriageworks for Vivid

Porteno restaurant will be one of the stallholders at The Night Market at Carriageworks.
Porteno restaurant will be one of the stallholders at The Night Market at Carriageworks. Photo: Andrew Quilty

Sydney lights up this week, with the Vivid festival starting on Friday - and Carriageworks is giving you good reasons to devote your appetite to what's happening at the Eveleigh venue, thanks to its Sydney Table and The Night Market events.

Carriageworks' Sydney Table dinner series begins on opening night, with ACME's Mitch Orr teaming up with choreographer Amrita Hepi for an event that definitely won't be staid or unmemorable.

So if you've ever wanted to bust a move at ACME - where the hip hop soundtrack is as unapologetic and unmissable as the pasta menu - then Sydney Table's kick-off event might be designed for you.  

"We're going to try and put a couple of performances together and make it interactive as well for everyone there, so it's a fun event," says head chef Mitch Orr, who is "really inspired" by collaborator Amrita Hepi, known for her Beyonce and Justin Bieber dance classes and her choregraphy at events like Next Wave. "We're not serious and uptight, we don't want the event to be. We want it to be really interactive and fun, just like her dance classes are and just like having dinner at ACME." 

Orr's mixed a little dance with his cooking events before. Last year, he prepared the Supper dinner for Underbelly Arts festival, which saw his menu sharing headline credits with dancers that vogued their way between diners' tables. 

Was that the most unusual cooking scenario you've had? 

"It's up there. Three or four drag queens walking in the kitchen in massive high heels to push our trolleys of food – it's pretty funny." 

So will there be a dance-off at the end of the Sydney Table he'll stage this week with Hepi?

Carriageworks has been the dramatic backdrop for previous events such as The Elston Room Chance Dinner.
Carriageworks has been the dramatic backdrop for previous events such as The Elston Room Chance Dinner. Photo: Zan Wimberley

"Who's to say? Depends on how pissed everyone gets, I suppose."

The Sydney Table program also sees Ester's Mat Lindsay present a dinner with ceramicist Ion Fukazawa and Bar H's Hamish Ingham collaborate with designer Vince Frost. It reunites Marque's Mark Best with photographer Petrina Tinslay (who were co-conspirators on his cookbook, Best Kitchen Basics) and Bloodwood's Claire van Vuuren and Mitchell Grady will re-team with floral artist Anna McMahon, after The Floral Gift dinner they staged at March's Art Month (an earlier incarnation of the event saw a participant's scarf catch fire from the abundance of table candles - hopefully the Vivid version will not require any fire extinguishers to be deployed).  

"We try and blur the line between art and food and bring them both together, and that's where we thought of doing Sydney Table – where we can have a great chef who is inspired by a creative and for them to do something together," says Carriageworks Farmers Market creative director Mike McEnearney. 

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McEnearney says the Mitch Orr collaboration with Amrita Hepi will be one of the highlights of Sydney Table. He also singles out the Alex Herbert event with artist Thomas Jackson as another highlight. 

"I don't think Alex has done anything before with this cool dude who is going to do this painting on the back of Anna Schwartz's gallery. I think that's amazing," he says. "Watch it all in reverse while you're eating dinner, that's pretty cool."

He adds that "few places in the world get incredible art and incredible food together" and that's something he hopes to change in Sydney with this venue. "We wanted to build that synergy between Carriageworks and Carriageworks farmers market and turn it into an art/food precinct – that's the grand plan. 

Sydney Table reunites Bloodwood chefs with floral artist Anna McMahon.
Sydney Table reunites Bloodwood chefs with floral artist Anna McMahon. Photo: Supplied

The Night Market for Vivid is only going to cement that concept, with the free event taking place over two nights in June. Over 50 stallholders - including Porteno, Thievery, Efendy, Billy Kwong, Cornersmith and more - will be inspired by the 'Cooking With Fire' theme, and the pyrotechnic show of food being prepared over live flames is definitely going to be a cold-weather-compatible drawcard for hungry visitors. 

Sydney Table is on from May 27 to June 18 and The Night Market is on June 4 and June 18, Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, carriageworks.com.au