The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF) is the latest public event to announce it would not go ahead as planned due to coronavirus concerns.
“It’s with the deepest regret that Melbourne Food & Wine Festival announces the postponement of its March 2020 program,” Anthea Loucas Bosha, CEO of Food and Wine Victoria, said in a statement. “Everyone in our organisation is heartbroken by this turn of events.”
“The March festival has been the work of hundreds of people around Victoria and around the world to produce, but the rapid escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic has created an exceptional set of circumstances for our event. Today’s recommendations from the federal government restricting 'non-essential gatherings' have forced the decision to postpone.
“The investment in the festival from the hospitality industry, from partners, sponsors, suppliers, volunteers and staff has been tremendous, and this decision has been made with great reluctance and the utmost seriousness. If another responsible course of action was available to us we’d have pursued it, but under the circumstances we cannot proceed.”
Loucas Bosha said it's “the firm intention of MFWF to run the Melbourne program at a later date in 2020”.
The 2020 line-up was a damn good one, with big-name internationals including Alison Roman, Philippe Mouchel and Ignacio Mattos joining a slate of top local chefs including Ben Shewry, Stephanie Alexander and Josh Niland.
Roman, who's based in New York, had announced on Instagram earlier in the day she would no longer be travelling to Australia.
Queen Victoria Market was to be the festival's new hub, hosting feature events including The Big Spaghetti pasta party and Maximum Chips (for fans of shoestrings, French fries, crinkle-cuts and all manner of fried potato). Chef Ben Shewry was to host “Attica Presents”, a full afternoon of talks, performances and music around the theme of hope and community.
MFWF says it will sort out ticketing arrangements, including refunds, over the coming weeks.
For a live list of events cancelled or postponed due to concerns around coronavirus, see Broadsheet's regularly updated wrap.