“We do lots with the newest and latest and hottest, but we’re also very much committed to celebrating the people who put in the hard yards over a lot of years,” says Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF) creative director Pat Nourse.
This commitment – and the hospitality personalities who live and breathe it – are what’s kept MFWF’s esteemed Legends program running since 1993.
Inductees to the Legends Hall of Fame are leaders, groundbreakers and visionaries of Victoria’s hospitality industry. And the 2022 cohort was unveiled at a rousing ceremony last night.
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The awards were judged by Nourse alongside food writers Richard Cornish and Jill Dupleix, MFWF industry lead Daisy Slade, and Herald Sun food editor and critic Kara Monssen.
Among the inductees is Kirsten Tibballs. She’s a pastry chef and chocolatier, the host of SBS’s The Chocolate Queen and the educator behind Savour School. And she’s amassed nearly 800,000 Instagram followers for her exquisite pastry work and technical prowess.
Hospitality veteran and industry advocate Caterina Borsato – of Caterina’s Cucina e Bar – has also been inducted. The lunch-only Caterina’s, which Borsato has run for more than 25 years, is a testament to her unyielding contribution to Melbourne CBD’s dining scene.
Meanwhile, the Food Producer, Advocate, Retailer award went to chef favourite, Gippsland fisherman Bruce Collis – for his enduring commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. And winemaker Bruce Chalmers won in the Drink Retailer, Producer, Advocate category as a pioneer of Australian viticulture and sustainable winemaking for more than four decades.
The Sustainability Champion went to fifth-generation Tahbilk winemaker Hayley Purbrick, who has spearheaded the winery’s transition to carbon neutral and paved the way for other producers looking to do the same. And chef, restaurateur and Central Victorian food advocate Sonia Anthony was named this year’s Local Hero for helping put Bendigo on the culinary map as a UNESCO-listed City of Gastronomy.
The Trailblazer award recognises someone under 40 years old who’s made significant strides in the Victorian hospitality industry. And this year’s went to none other than Shannon Martinez – for her peerless acceleration of Melbourne’s vegan dining scene via three restaurants (Smith & Daughters, Smith & Deli and Lona Misa), three cookbooks, and a flavour-above-all approach to plant-based fare that’s truly revolutionary.
Arguably the most anticipated award of the night was the $10,000 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship, which was awarded to Sarah Cremona. After embarking on a corporate career, she realised she was unfulfilled and left her role to pursue hospitality. She’s now a chef de partie at Pt Leo Estate and an advocate for hospitality as a life-long career trajectory.
“The messaging that it’s not too late to start and that [hospitality] can lead to an amazing career is something that the judges and I really love to hear,” says Slade.
Finally, as an early curator of MFWF, in 1992 – alongside founder Peter Clemenger – the late, great Pamela Bakes was named an Honorary MFWF Legend for her work in laying the foundations for a festival that’s gone on to have a triumphant 30-year run (and counting).