Melbourne Food and Wine Festival turns 25 this year, and there’s a lot to celebrate. It’s grown since 1993 when the inaugural festival featured just 12 events; the now two-week-long celebration includes more than 200 different feasts, parties, talks and masterclasses.
Between March 31 and April 9, top chefs from around the world will join with some of Australia’s best culinary talent for events covering everything from hobby beekeeping and sauerkraut-making, to the secret history of champagne and some of the world’s longest lunches. The festival also coincides with one of the food world’s biggest events – the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. So there is a lot of special talent in town.
It’s only two weeks until MFWF begins, and several big events are already sold out. But there’s still plenty left to eat, drink, learn and do at this year’s festival.
Here’s the best of what’s left at MFWF 2017.
The Breakfast Club
You may have been to Richmond’s Top Paddock for breakfast, but what about MoVida? Bloody Marys are a usual suspect at Sunday brunch, but what about a Martini? The Breakfast Club involves a banquet made by the city’s favourite kitchens. MoVida, Magic Mountain Saloon, Tokyo Tina, Mario's Cafe, Top Paddock, Higher Ground and dessert bar Om Nom will challenge your idea of what’s acceptable before noon. Meanwhile bar Romeo Lane is putting together a list of breakfast cocktails, and the sherry and wine list has been curated by MoVida. There will, of course, be coffee.
Sunday April 2 from 10am–2pm at The House of Food & Wine (361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne). Tickets $55 and include three breakfast “snacks” and coffee. Additional beverages will be available to buy. Book here.
Monday Family Dinners
In Sydney, there’s one dinner event every chef and foodie wants an invite to: Monday night at Angie Hong’s house. For MFWF 2017, Angie Hong’s famous Monday-night spread is coming to Melbourne, and she’s joined by other first families of Australian hospitality. The Ayubi family (Parwana, Adelaide); Amy and Palisa Chanta (Chat Thai and Boon Café, Sydney); Kate and Cameron Reid (Lune Croissanterie, Melbourne); Matt Stone and Jo Barrett (Oakridge); and mother-and-son chefs Alistair and Sally Wise will join the Hong family to put on the best home-cooked meal in town.
Monday April 3 from 6.30pm–10.30pm at The House of Food & Wine (361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne). Tickets $125 and include six dishes and six drinks. Book here.
Italo Dining & Disco Club
The Italian street parties thrown by Maurice Terzini (Icebergs, Da Orazio) and Giovanni Paradiso (Fratelli Paradiso, 10 William St) are famous in Sydney. These events always follow a strict order: first, fill your stomach with polenta, cannelloni, pizza and tiramisu, then dance.
Friday March 31 from 7pm–11pm at The House of Food & Wine (361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne). Tickets $150 and include food and wine. Book here.
Burger Block Party
To send the festival off, some of Australia’s best burger makers will cater a good-old-fashioned block party. Melbourne’s Raph Rashid (Beatbox Kitchen) and Casey Wall (Rockwell & Sons) will be joined by Sydney burger royalty Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (Mary’s Burgers); Perth’s Simon Kony (Short Order Burger Co.); and Hobart’s Christian Ryan and Sam Chang (The Standard).
Sunday April 9 from 5.30pm–10pm at The House of Food & Wine (361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne). Tickets $25 and include one welcome drink. Book here.
Savoury Sweet, Sweet Savoury Champagne Party
Om Nom pastry and savoury chefs Jo Ward and Darren Jones will cross pollenate the sweet and savoury sides of their kitchen for some cheeky, creative bites to accompany copious amounts of champagne a.k.a. the best beverage ever. Fancy, bubbly, fun-times for all.
Tuesday 4th April, 7.30pm–10.00pm at The Adelphi Hotel. Tickets $125 including canapes and champagne. Book here.
Rootstock Sydney x MFWF
Rootstock Sydney – the city’s sustainable food and wine festival – is collaborating with MFWF to celebrate all things native, biodynamic and sustainably produced. Rootstock founders Mike Bennie, Georgio di Maria and James Hird will be joined by producers such as oyster farmers, winemakers and wild-fermented-beer brewers. The event will embrace the Sydney festival’s ethos, but with Melbourne talent and produce.
Friday April 7 from 7pm–11pm at The House of Food & Wine (361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne). Tickets $125 and include five dishes and six drinks. More information and bookings.
For Champagne Revolution, wine merchant, vineyard owner and author Robert Walters will be joined by a panel of specialists in a tasting that focuses on bubbles. Ten champagnes will be offered and the panel will take you through the different terroirs, personalities and practices jnvolved in making the drink.
Thursday April 6 from 6pm–8pm at the Builders Arms Hotel (211 Gertrude St, Fitzroy). Tickets $118 and include wine tasting and a copy of Robert Walters Book, Bursting Bubbles (RRP $39.90). Book here.
The West is Best: Food, Beer & Wine Festival
Footscray’s Up In Smoke is using MFWF as an excuse to throw a special backyard barbeque. It’s welcoming local breweries (Hop Nation and West City), regional wineries (Mt Macedon and Witchmount) and food spots (Andrew’s Choice and 8bit) to its beer garden for a relaxed afternoon out west.
Sunday April 9 from 12pm–3pm at Up In Smoke (28 Hopkins Street, Footscray). All-inclusive tickets $78. Book here.
MasterClass: Jorge Vallejo
The MasterClass series at MFWF 2017 features eight chefs from around the world with one thing in common: their restaurants have all been ranked, at one time or another, in the world’s top 50. Jorge Vallejo is the man behind Mexico City’s Quintonil, currently ranked number 12. His obsession with sustainability means he sources most produce from within 30 metres of his kitchen. Tasting tickets have sold out, so book quickly to secure a rare opportunity to watch and learn from Vallejo.
Sunday April 2 from 10am–11am at Deakin Edge, Federation Square. Watch & Learn tickets $35, available here.
MasterClass: Zaiyu Hasegawa
Zaiyu Hasegawa is one of Tokyo’s rising culinary stars. His signature style – kaiseki, meaning a multi-course dinner with many small, intricate dishes – is defined by creativity and humour (he’s known for carving smiley faces into carrots). Having earned a cult following at his restaurant Den (currently ranked 37 in the world), Hasegawa’s guest dinner at Cutler & Co. has sold out, but the MasterClass is still open to see the irreverent chef in action.
Saturday April 1 from 4pm–5pm at Deakin Edge, Federation Square. Watch & Learn tickets $35 (Taste & Learn now sold out) are available here.
MasterClass: White Rabbit
Vladimir Mukhin’s Moscow restaurant, White Rabbit, is currently ranked 18 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. For this event the new-wave Russian chef will be joined by Alla Wolf-Tasker, the chef and co-owner of Daylesford’s Lake House Restaurant. Over one-and-a-half hours the two chefs will explore their Russian lineage, with Wolf-Tasker doubling as a translator for Mukhin. Make a day of it.
Sunday April 9 from 11am–12.30pm at Lake House (King Street, Daylesford). Tickets $195 and include demonstration, discussion, recipes, wine and tasting. Book here.
Regional World’s Longest Lunches
On Friday March 31 the Victorian countryside will be transformed into a series of synchronised banquets. More than 20 long lunch tables across the state will be set. These events will celebrate local wine, brews and produce from each region. From seafood and lawn games in Bellarine, to lunch and glamping at the Mount Zero Olive Grove in the Grampians, this is the perfect excuse for an escape to the country.
Friday March 31 from approximately 12pm–4pm in 20 locations across Victoria. Ticket prices vary. More information and bookings here.
To Hive or Not: Hobby Beekeeping
Interested in beekeeping but don’t know where to start? Or do you already have a hobby hive and want to take it to the next level? Over seven hours on Saturday April 1, the keepers at Beechworth Honey will host you at their farm for an all-encompassing masterclass on bees and looking after them. This in-depth, hands-on course will cover everything from lighting up the smoker to bottling your own honey.
Saturday April 1 from 9.30am–4.30pm at the Beechworth Honey Experience (31 Ford Street, Beechworth). Tickets $250 and include a light lunch, transportation and detailed notes. Book here.
Celebrate Fermentation: Wheat, Bread, Sourdough & Sauerkraut
In this one-day masterclass, participants will learn from a wide range of fermenters and researchers about the benefits of fermentation. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn how to make a variety of fermented foods, including your own sourdough starter. The ticket price includes a vineyard lunch based around local and fermented foods.
Sunday April 2 from 10am to 4pm at Bress, Wine, Cider & Produce (3894 Calder Highway, Harcourt). Tickets $133 and include talks, demonstrations, lunch and wine. Book here.