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Be part of the world’s first crowdfunding dining experience this March – which contestant’s dish will you rate?

Last week (13th-16th March) Taste of Sydney hosted the world's first IconPark - a crowdfunding dining experience where YOU get to decide whose restaurant concept becomes a reality by pledging for it (i.e. purchasing experiences and rewards). And yes, finder.com.au was there to support and taste (okay, really just taste) a signature dish from each of the six finalists.

Images courtesy of Melissa Chan.

To get them to this point, Australia's industry heavyweights had to cull hundreds of dining concepts down to these select few - so we already knew that top notch fodder was on our lunch plates when we arrived on Sunday. Sadly, the weather wasn't top notch, but we buckled down and ran for the IconPark tent, hungry to put some warm food into our bellies. The contestants didn't disappoint, delivering us a smorgasbord of inventive and well-cooked dishes.

With internationally renowned chef Matt Stone in the kitchen, Stanley Street Merchants came up with a whiting cooked in paper bark, bush tomato butter, fine herb salad meal that was rife with flavour, light on the stomach and as we both agreed, would be ideal on a hot summer's day. Ruby's BBQ headed straight in the other direction with a meaty 'Boss Hog' Berkshire pulled pork, half rack of ribs, potato salad, appleslaw and sauerkraut that warmed us nicely on this chill Sunday day. Hours spent on the grill and it flaked immaculately. It's true: this chef knows his pork.

Sedgwick Ave and its Americana diner pulled out a great crowdpleaser, with its Brooklyn's finest de-boned wings watermelon. That's double-cooked, de-boned chicken wings slathered in blue cheese sauce and sided with a wedges of grilled watermelon. It works. Believe us, it works. Korean outfit Min Joo Social blended tacos with fried chicken. It was made brilliantly, though was a little hard to handle, while Blackcats took on the traditional gumbo. The real surprise contender today though was British India Trading Company's cardamon and ginger spiced short rib, whatever salty goodness they sprinkled onto that baby it was awesome. And the side of okra was inspired.

So yeah, this reviewer was quite disappointed to hear that, in the spirit of competitions, the British India Trading Company was kicked out a day later. People of Australia, you should be ashamed of yourselves for letting such a thing happen, but sadly, this is how things go. Now there are only four left in the competition and days to go for the winner to be announced.

If you visited the IconPark tent at Taste this year, you can support your favourite (it's free) to get a $10 voucher that you can use to pledge for your favourite outfit. If you didn't, you can still support your favourite by pledging through IconPark’s website up until 9pm on the 24th of March with the winning concept announced on the 25th.

If they win, then you win your experience. If they don't, then you don't have to shell out a dollar - fair right?

However, if your chosen restaurant does win the grand prize of a fully-funded 12-week residency in IconPark’s outfit in East Sydney’s Stanley St precinct, well, then you could be doing anything from giving the boys behind the bar a high-five to supping on its delicious delights and gloating that YOU helped make this dining dream come true.

Here are the remaining four contestants, now start pledging! The winner’s outfit will open on Monday, the 22nd of April. Watch this space.

Stanley Street Merchants

Stanley Street Merchants

Locally foraged produce and a sustainable kitchen is the name of the game at SSM. Behind the helm is internationally renowned chef Matt Stone, coffee aficionado Sal Malatesta, drinksmith Bobby Carey and Jez Spencer.

Stand-out dish: Whiting cooked in paperbark, bush tomato butter, fine herb salad.

What you could win/earn:

A high-five, name on a bar stool, gin masterclass

Pledge here

Ruby’s BBQ

Ruby’s BBQ

Husband and wife Eli (Fat Rupert’s Bondi, ex-Porteno in Surry Hills) and Ruby Challenger are bringing the taste of the American South to the Australian plate. Expect one damn fine BBQ ya’ll. Plus, how can you hate on an outfit that’s named after your wife?

Stand-out dish: 16-hour slow smoked BBQ beef with coleslaw and Ruby’s homemade BBQ sauce.

What you could win/earn: Homemade condiments, your name on a swing seat (New Orleans-style), opening night invite.

Pledge here

Sedgwick Avenue

Sedgwick Avenue

New York hip-hop, food and booze is coming to Stanley Street thanks to Sedgwick Avenue’s artistically styled outfit. The Sedgewick ‘crew’ are all in for Katz’ deli style street eats, visual street art orgies and a bit of them beat-boxing in the background.

Stand-out dish: Brooklyn’s finest de-boned wings and watermelon

What you could win/earn: A personalised hip-hop street name, mixology class, stencil portrait.

Pledge here

Min Joo Social

Min Joo Social

K-pop and Gangnam Style fans unite: this is the one you’ve been craving for since the dawn of time. Quality Korean is heading our way and it’s bringing with it a karaoke bar because, yeah, that’s what Koreans do. Start singing Min Joo Social’s praises now.

Stand-out dish: Korean fried chicken tortilla

What you could win/earn: Morning hit breakfast, wine tasting + canapes, 5-course degustation and good times.

Pledge here

Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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