Pat Nourse has spent the past few months making big decisions. In November last year, the restaurant critic and editor packed up his desk at Gourmet Traveller in Sydney after almost 15 years. Today, it was announced he’s taken on the role of creative director at Melbourne Food and Wine, most well-known for bringing us the annual showcase of Victorian and international food talent that is the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. And today, he’s choosing between Brunswick East, Northcote, Thornbury and Coburg for his new home.

It sounds like Northcote is the frontrunner, in part due to the baked goods at All Are Welcome. “Even though it’s kind of an ‘it’ suburb, it has at least two Cash Converters on the main street,” he says, laughing.

Big decisions are nothing new for Nourse. In addition to calling the shots as chief restaurant critic and managing editor at Gourmet Traveller, he’s been a restaurant critic for almost 20 years, writing for publications including Lonely Planet, Saveur, Lucky Peach, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Herald Sun, Sunday Life and Harper’s Bazaar. He’s chair of the Oceania voting panel for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, and has spent time on Tourism Australia’s Food and Wine Tourism advisory panel. He’s also worked on and off with Melbourne Food and Wine Festival for the past decade as a presenter and a moderator, and hosting dinners.

“I’ve just had a lot of really great experiences, like being [at the festival] when Andrew McConnell brought David Chang to Cumulus Inc.. I think that's the first time we’d seen a David Chang-style pork bun. Like Rene Redzepi cooking with Raymond Capaldi. These things were really cool on the day … but they also had effects that rippled out into the food scene in Australia.”

In the new role, Nourse will work alongside Food and Wine Victoria CEO Anthea Loucas Bosha (also a former Gourmet Traveller editor, and current Broadsheet Kitchen mentor) and newly appointed chairman Radek Sali to oversee the creative output of the festival, finding new ways to celebrate food in Victoria – not just as part of the festival, but all year round.

“Food and drink is really woven into people's lifestyle in Melbourne and Victoria in a way that you don't really see in any other English-speaking country. It's not just an elite thing,” says Nourse. He says he’s seen the festival evolve over the years into something that’s considered in international industry circles to be one of the great food festivals of the world.

“They're always talking about how Melbourne really looks out for them … I remember Massimo Bottura a few years ago wanted to make this gigantic green and gold tribute to Australia risotto, and he needed – because he's pretty insistent, the maestro – he needed five-year-old parmagiano. And no one batted a hair. They just rang up Enoteca Sileno, and they're like, ‘Yep, course no worries. Ten kilograms. We'll have it down there in 20 minutes.”

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from March 8 to 24, 2019.

melbournefoodandwine.com.au