City skyline, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is where we’re headed – we’re in transit in Saigon en route to Australia’s culinary capital and we are already salivating. And that’s not just because my airport foraging turned up some Marou chocolate that I’m saving for dessert on the flight tonight.

That’s how good the eating is in Melbourne is – it’s food worth flying for! Are you going to join us?

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2017 – 25th Birthday Celebrations

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, which showcases food and wine from across the state of Victoria, turns 25 this year and they have reason to celebrate. The inaugural festival featured just 12 events. This year the 10-day eating and drinking extravaganza hosts a whopping 200, including master classes, talks, feasts, wine tastings, cider sipping, food walks, bar crawls, and parties – and we’re going to be experiencing a generous serve of them.

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2017 also coincides with the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards on the 5th April. Hundreds of chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and food media are jetting in from all over the world, and the Festival has taken advantage of having all that culinary talent in town.

On the weekend there’ll be a series of master classes with some of the world’s greatest chefs while throughout the festival chefs will also be involved in special events. There will also be a series of talks with some of the biggest names in the business.

From 31 March until 9 April we’ll be sharing posts from both the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants events on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and we’ll also be posting stories on Grantourismo. Do come and share the experience with us on our social media channels if you’re not already following and check in on Grantourismo from tomorrow onwards.

Here are some of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival events we’ll be getting to:

Friday 31 March

River Graze

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is kicking off their party with River Graze on Friday at 4pm and continuing their celebration throughout the weekend, from noon until 9pm each day. We’re staying in a gorgeous apartment at the Oaks Southbank property for the first two nights so we’re at the heart of the action and can graze the 1km stretch of the river promenade where chefs, producers, and winemakers will be setting up shop to keep you all sated.

The Festival promises a culinary playground for big and little foodies alike, with the world’s largest floating inflatable fruit bowl. We’ve got our eye on a few spots in particular, including City Cellar, where we’ll be able to get a taste of the Victorian wine scene right now; Southgate Cider Orchard, where we’ll be able to find the country’s top cideries in one place; and the Food Truck Stop, where we’ll find a carefully curated collection of the Melbourne’s top meals on wheels.

A stretch of the Yarra Promenade will also be dedicated to educating and amusing Little Foodies. They’ll get a chance to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from by picking, smelling and tasting fresh produce straight from the soil as they dig into the Victorian strawberry patch and enjoy a range of other cool interactive hands-on activities.

The House of Food and Wine

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival has set up home in the House of Food and Wine, secreted down one of Melbourne’s beloved laneways. They’ll be hosting a series of sit-down dinners, wine tastings and block parties from their home and there’s a gallery and a bar that’s open from midday daily. Apparently, it’s just like a real home, with a living area and dining room. We’ll be dropping by on Friday evening when we’ll get to sample the wine and food by chef Morgan McGlone of Belle’s Hot Chicken fame.
361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne City

Saturday 1 April

Masterclasses with Some of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants Chefs

We’ll be dropping into a handful of Masterclasses with some of the world’s best chefs on the weekend, beginning on Saturday with Carlo Cracco of Ristorante Cracco in Milan, Wylie Dufresne of wd-50 fame, and Zaiyu Hasegawa of Den in Japan. We’re particularly excited about the class with Carlo Cracco as we ate at his restaurant many years ago when we wrote the Best of Milan guide for Lonely Planet.

There are still some Watch and Learn tickets (US$35) available for most Masterclasses so come join us and learn to cook like the chefs of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List.

Feast and Making Like a Viking: Twilight Feast and Buttermilk Cheese Workshop

Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening Feasting and Making like a Viking? We’ll be sampling traditional Nordic cooking techniques using Victorian native bush ingredients and produce, and getting lessons in making buttermilk cheese. I’m really looking forward to this one, being held at the Henry & The Fox. But unfortunately tickets are sold out.

Sunday 2 April

We’ll be getting along to even more Masterclasses and beginning with lessons in modern Mexican cuisine from Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil and ending with a class by Gaston Acurio of Peru. Mexico was the first country we ever travelled to and we fell in love with authentic Mexican cuisine way back then and on our last trip to Mexico in 2010 reignited our love for the food at some of Mexico City’s contemporary Mexican restaurants, including Pujol, Ixote and Dulce Patria.

Lunch: Mehmet Gurs and the Young Turks at Lezzet Restaurant

I can’t tell you how excited we are by this event! Istanbul’s Mehmet Gürs, a Turkish-Scandi chef (his mum was Swedish, Mehmet was born in Finland and his dad is Turkish) will be exploring Turkey’s old culinary traditions with three Australian Turkish chefs Somer Sivrioglu, Coskun Uysal and Kemal Barut, and sommelier Tan Sumer. They’ve promised a culinary journey of Anatolian history and a “beautiful tribute to Turkish tradition through Australian produce”.

We first met Mehmet over a decade ago when we dined at his restaurant, Mikla (#56 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list) and interviewed him for a story for a Gulf in-flight magazine. We’ve dined at Mikla three times over the years and have seen the cuisine develop and Mikla become one of the region’s finest restaurants. Mehmet now employs a full-time anthropologist at Mikla! This will be no ordinary Sunday lunch.

Dinner: FIRE 2.0

This is going to be special. FIRE 2.0 is a fiery feast cooked over pits, coals, barbecues, and flames that’s a celebration of the oldest and most primal way of cooking with legendary Australian chef Neil Perry of Rockpool Bar and Grill (and the rest), Lennox Hastie of Firedoor (previously head chef of Asador Extebarri); Paul Carmichael of Momofuko Seibo in Sydney; Danielle Alvarez (head chef of Fred’s in Sydney, formerly of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkley); Dave Verheul (a New Zealander chef who was at Fat Duck and is now head chef at Carlton’s Town Mouse); and Jake Nicolson (we love this talented guy who started out at Daylsford’s Lake House, did stints at El Bulli and The Ledbury, and was Young Chef of the Year at Circa, The Prince, which where we met him and fell in love with his food).

Monday 3 April

We’re attending some fabulous talks during the day hosted by Electrolux Appetite for Excellence. Luke Mangan is talking to Brett Graham and Peter Gilmore, and Daniel Humm and Massimo Bottura. In the evening, the World’s 50 Best Talks feature Daniel Humm, Will Guidara, Gaggan, Jordi Roca, and Grant Achatz.

However, we’ll be getting along to the Treasures of Kampuchea, an interactive cooking class with Chef Woody Chet of Amok, a Cambodian restaurant at Windsor. Chef Woody will be teaching participants to make kroeung and fish amok with Australian ingredients, before serving a a Cambodian feast. There are still spots left for this one, so come and eat some Cambodian food with us.

Wednesday 5 April

This is the big day and we have a full schedule! We’re going to a ‘Meet the Chefs’ session with Dan Barber, Elena Arzak, and Virgilio Martinez; a lunch with the Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca hosted by Costa Brava Tourism and then in the evening is the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. We’ll be tweeting and instagramming from the event but the awards are also going to be broadcast on Federation Square.

Thursday 6 April

Mid-morning we’re doing a Waterside Wander, a guided culinary and cultural tour of Victoria Harbour with Aussie wine guru Max Allen, which is part of the Festival’s classic Crawl n Bite series.

The Crawl n Bite series is aimed at exploring a neighbourhood that you might not normally get to and there are still tickets available for the walk we’re doing and some of the other tantalising strolls so come and join us.

Friday 7 April

In the evening we’ll be trying early Victorian Gold Rush-era cuisine for the first time at Ned Kelly’s Last Meal: Flavours of Old Victoria at the Longhorn Saloon, Carlton.

Saturday 8 April

We’re going to trundle down to Geelong in the train to try Aaron Turner’s restaurant Igni for lunch, however, we’ll be back in the evening for our final Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event at 6pm called ‘Kabaru Enechewet’ (Let’s play the drums!), an Ethiopian dinner at Konjo cafe, which kicks off with live drumming and includes a traditional Ethiopian coffee tasting (named Melbourne’s most essential coffee experience by Epicure).

More Delicious Events We Suggest You Try

There are so many other events we’d love to try to get to but we’re not sure how much eating two people can do in ten days… these are some of the other things we would have loved to have done:

Celebrate “pollination to plate” at Conscious Deliciousness (Sunday 2 April, 6.30-9.30pm), a collaboration at Grub Greenhouse between Melbourne’s best sustainability focused chefs and produce suppliers, including chefs Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso), Daniel Giraldo (Maha), Jesse Gerner (Bomba), Scott Blomfield (Grub), pastry chef Pierre Roelofs, Thiago Miranda, finalist on Electrolux Appetite for Excellence, and former head chef at Church Street Enoteca, and Paolo Tancredi, chef/creator of Speak As You Eat. They’ll be serving up a sustainability inspired menu created from a cross pollination of ideas, including the provenance of produce and honouring the plants and animals they use so that very little is wasted. The menu will showcase Victoria’s great agricultural regions and the growers who harvest the finest produce.

Indulge in free-flowing drinks, Italian fare, then dance the night away at Italo Dining & Disco Club.

Discover more cool neighbourhoods on the Crawl n Bite walks or let Australia’s first families of hospitality cook us dinner.

Try something new with 10 Chinese Dishes You’ve Never Tried Before.

Witness Mister Bianco transform into a Sicilian seaside paradise with the beach brought indoors.

Enjoy a sulphite-free zone with Rootstock Sydney x MFWF.

Jump on tram route 72 and enjoy a Journey to the Alps featuring some of Melbourne’s best wine bars.

Wrap up the Festival with a big, greasy burger or five, with some of Australia’s top burger joints at our last hurrah – The Burger Block Party.

Click through to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival site to browse the full programme, check out the highlights, and buy tickets online.

We’ll post again from Melbourne!

A big thanks to Astrid and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival team for making our participation at the many MFWF events possible and for Oaks for providing our apartments.



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