It’s a food-lover’s idea of heaven: high-end food trucks creating one-off bespoke snacks and cocktails; world-famous chefs converging to debate sustainability and gender in hospitality and creativity in cooking; titans of fine dining teaching masterclasses by day; and gastronomic quizzes and themed candlelit dinners at night. And it’s all in one place.
From March 8 to March 11, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will take over the Malthouse Theatre with a bustling schedule of panels, tastings, masterclasses and rare food events. Called the House of Food and Wine, the program will impress even the most seasoned festival-goers.
“It’s our gastronomy weekend, hosting the best in international talent as well as the hottest Australian food talent,” says Food and Wine Victoria CEO Anthea Loucas Bosha.
This year marks the third time the House of Food and Wine has appeared at the festival. In 2017 it was held in a bespoke two-storey space off Little Lonsdale Street and decorated with specially commissioned art. Last year, it took over Hotel Lindrum on Flinders Street, where everything from breakfast to room service was custom-created for the event.
The Malthouse this year will host the biggest and broadest incarnation of the event yet; the program includes dinners, workshops, masterclasses, a quiz night and the talks program, Theatre of Ideas supported by The New York Times.
“The Malthouse has really become a hub, there are so many things happening at any one time,” says Loucas Bosha. “There will be all these theatres employed, it has that fabulous courtyard that will have a real festival vibe, and it’s a great central location with a wonderful tradition of being a hub of creativity. We’re thrilled that it’s our new House.”
There will be two special dinners at The Malthouse over the weekend: All the Chickens supported by Hennessy on Friday March 8, and Kings of Quebec supported by Destination Canada on Saturday March 9. Star Hong Kong-based chef and yakitori chicken expert Matt Abergel will host the former event, bringing together some of his esteemed chef colleagues who will each prepare a different chicken dish, accompanied by bespoke Hennessy cocktails.
The Kings of Quebec will showcase the “more-is-more cooking of Montreal”, Canada’s foodie capital. It’s in Quebec that poutine, a belt-loosening dish of hot chips loaded with gravy and cheese curds, was born.
“Kings of Quebec is presented by the hottest restaurant in Montreal [Joe Beef], the favourite of the chefs, the dinner will be all about excess and hedonism and it should be really exciting,” says Loucas Bosha.
She’s most excited about the Theatre of Ideas. It runs all weekend and features some of the brightest food stars locally and from around the world – like Jowett Yu, Dan Hong, Maria Kabal and Dan Hunter – sharing their opinions. “It’s a really fantastic forum to start a conversation, it’s always really unique and a little bit controversial,” she says.
Meanwhile, cooking demonstrations over the weekend will be presented by the likes of pro chocolatier Kirsten Tibballs; beloved TV presenter, author and chef Adam Liaw; and Paul Carmichael, head chef at Momofuku Seiōbo in Sydney.
The House is the flagship event of the 16-day festival program, which can proudly claim being the country’s premier food and drink event. “At risk of stating the obvious, food and wine is so central to the experience of Melbourne and Victoria,” says Loucas Bosha.
“It’s who we are, it’s part of our everyday life, I think in a much deeper and more inclusive way than any other city in Australia.”
The House of Food and Wine runs from Friday 8 to Monday 11 March with a variety of ticket options. Visit melbournefoodandwine.com.au for the full program.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.