Thirty was Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s lucky number in 2022.

To celebrate its 30-year milestone, it hosted a monumental gala dinner with 30 dishes by 30 of Victoria’s most exciting chefs under 30, and an accompanying series of smaller dinners with that same crop of chefs.

As part of it, each chef has shared their favourite thing to eat in the state right now. Behold, then start ticking them off.

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Anneliese Brancatisano, Hector’s Deli
“The celeriac-filled tortellini in brodo at Bar Romantica. [But] I may be slightly biased, as Jack is my very good friend and old housemate. His food – from a morning omelette for the housemates to the food he and the team are dishing up – is simple, beautiful and that little bit fancy. Everything he is cooking right now gets me excited to switch out a night on the couch for the red-hot seats at Romantica.”

Anthony Nguyen, Aru
“The smoked mussels with toum and hash brown at Nomad, which in my opinion is a great example of something that is clever, fun and delicious.”

Anthony Tran, Freyja
“Sandwiches from places like Hector’s Deli, Frankie’s Tortas and Tacos, and Saul’s Sandwiches, which are simple and tasty. Comfort-food-wise, I always tend to lean towards Vietnamese food now that I’m unable to enjoy my mother’s cooking as much anymore, with her in Sydney. Footscray and Springvale will always provide a fix when I’m in need.”

Audrey Allard, Holy Sugar
“Basque cheesecakes and custard tarts, when they’re still a little warm. They’re perfect in this cooler weather.”

Bianca Johnston, formerly Igni
“Matt Podbury’s boudin noir at La Cachette in Geelong. La Cachette is my favourite place for a Monday lunch.”

Cam Tay-Yap, Amaru
“At the moment, what I really enjoy eating is Hector’s Deli’s tuna melt. Dom [Wilton] is also someone I worked with right at the beginning of my time at Attica – and [his] sangas are just so delicious. Simple as that. Nothing too complicated, just delicious sandwiches. With their new location in South Melbourne, it’s the perfect market snack.”

Carina La Delfa, Tommy Collins
“All types of viennoiserie. I really love the standard Melbourne has hit and, also, we keep pushing the boundaries. Monforte, Bread Club and Wild Life are great examples.”

Charlie Carrington, Atlas
“The souvlaki at that epic joint Orexi in Oakleigh – next level.”

Elijah Chen, Matilda
“Wine-bar food. No-stress dining experience, just a couple of glasses of wine, snacks, and easy, tasty food that makes me happy and full. I love to cook fancy food, but just to enjoy myself I’ll pick a wine bar.”

Ellie Bouhadana, Hope St Radio
“Grilled prawns with garlic oil and toasted bread from Claypots in St Kilda.”

Giorgia McAllister Forte, Monforte
“Birdsnake and Chotto Motto’s new collaboration: crispy chilli chocolate. Warming spices and crisp rice puffs, all wrapped in 60 per cent Ecuadorian deliciousness. Can’t get enough.”

Hannah Cox, Anchovy
“Persimmons. They’re growing everywhere. They are the most floral of fruits – refreshing and heart-warming.”

Hannah Holleran, Gimlet
“The albacore tuna and kalamata olive toast at Embla. Sitting at the kitchen bar in the cosy, dimly lit dining room with a glass of natural wine and a few of these toasts, for me, is a perfect place to be.”

Hannah Watt, Bellota
Nana Mookata: Thai food that’s not made to cater to an Australian palate. And Etta really is a standout for interesting flavours, a good wine list and attentive service.”

Harvey Noy, Embla
“All the nigiri served at Minamishima are a highlight.”

Hugh Allen, Vue de Monde
“Victorian truffles. Some of the best truffles in the world come from Victoria.”

HyoJu Park, Madeleine de Proust
“The dessert from Sucre du Jour. They always try to make new flavour combinations with a fine touch: delicious! In terms of savoury food, I quite like the sushi place called Uminono; they maintain top-quality fish and sushi even though they sell out every day.”

James Grant, Cumulus Inc
“The King George whiting pasta dish at Osteria Ilaria. It’s a dish with such simplicity at face value, but [it] has an amazing depth of flavour and warmth to it that I find really comforting. (They also don’t judge you when you order an additional main-sized portion.)”

Javier Ortiz, State of Grace
“I don’t have any special place yet, but I like the diversity and quality.”

Joane Yeoh, formerly Coda
“XO pipis with Chinese doughnuts at Ling Nan or Supper Inn. It always tastes extra delicious after a long service at work.”

Kimberly Tang, formerly Society
“Woodfired flatbread from Nomad for its pure, simple deliciousness, and the Nyonya kuih (and everything else on the menu) at CC Wok. It’s really humbling to see a small business bloom and still give back to the community and the less fortunate; a good family-style business that stays true to its roots.”

Mitch Haag, Hazel
“I’m quite new to living in Melbourne, so I haven’t eaten out as much as I’d like, but I have been known to get a cheeky blood sausage and devilled egg burger from Butcher’s Diner after a long day at work.”

Nagesh Seethiah, Manze
“Breakfast at Udom House. It’s delicious, nourishing and a truly great start to the day.”

Niko Pasieka, Maha Bar
“Deli-style meats, fresh bread and a selection of cheeses. It tastes good all year round and never disappoints.”

Pieter Buijsse, Pt Leo Estate
“A fresh baguette from Florian. I always make a pit stop there when I’m in Melbourne; they always have the best selection of locally sourced ingredients.”

Rosheen Kaul, Etta
“The Cubano sandwich from Nico’s Deli because, well, it’s magnificent. Crisp and soft, an ideal bread-to-filling ratio, layers of smoked pork belly, ham, koji chimichurri and melty Emmenthal cheese with the perfect amount of salty pickles, mustard and shredded lettuce to balance. So many salty, porky and fresh textures in one crisp bite. I don’t even particularly like sandwiches, but this one really is something else. Sandwich sorcery.”

Vick Tesson, Provenance
“Banh mi from Ca Com in Richmond. Anything they make is delightful, but I also think it’s an excellent example of what was first a pop-up project in response to Covid lockdowns that has become a permanent and well-loved institution.”

Vyvyan Huynh, formerly Stokehouse
“Hands up for the wine bars out there. For me, being able to watch a tiny team knock out honest food while I spend the night getting educated about wine is always great. Such good fun – go support your local wine bar!”

Zackary Furst, Bar Liberty
“Anything from Mono-XO. Sam Stafford is a great cook with a kind and hospitable attitude. Strongly recommend the lamb-brains snack.”