Kicking off in late February and running across 17 big days, next year’s Melbourne Food & Wine Festival will once again host your favourite local heroes alongside big international names and offer countless ways to get well fed, well boozed and skilled-up with the masters.

Global superstars Eric Werner of Mexico’s off-the-grid Hartwoodrestaurant, the legendary Ruth Rogers of London’s River Café and old-school South Carolina pit master Rodney Scott are likely to be some of the festival’s hottest items and worth snaffling tickets for super early.

We know how tough it can be to whittle down such a huge field of culinary contenders so to make life easier, we’ve put together a list of our top picks.

Eric Werner at Newmarket Hotel

Sourcing all of his produce locally and using only wood fire for his cooking, New York expat Werner is a champion of low-impact, “modern-primitive” cookery. Set in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico, his restaurant Hartwood has garnered considerable international press for its innovation and commitment to sustainability. He’s set to bring his delicious, “back to basics” food style to the Newmarket Hotel for a dinner with chef Stephen Burke.
Sunday March 1, $120

Ruth Rogers

Early boss and mentor to Jamie Oliver, owner of London landmark The River Café and author of numerous best-selling cookbooks, multi-award winning chef Ruth Rogers has long been considered the UK’s unofficial queen of rustic, seasonal Italian cooking. During her MFWF visit she’ll be preparing a multi-course seasonal Italian dinner alongside Neil Perry at his opulent Southbank restaurant, Rosetta, as well as hosting chef masterclasses at the Langham.
March 10, $200

Rodney Scott at Rockwell and Sons

In what is set to be one hell of a delicious battle between North and South (Carolina, that is), South Carolina’s old-school pit master, Rodney Scott (Scott’s Bar-B-Que), returns to MFWF to go head to head with North Carolina expat, Casey Wall (Rockwell and Sons) in a battle of all things slow-cooked, deep-fried and Deep Southern.
March 1, free

Jamie Bissonnette at Bomba

Boston-based Jamie Bissonnette is considered one of the US’s foremost authorities on nose-to-tail cooking and the art of charcuterie. He’s the chef-owner at Boston restaurant Coppa, as well as bodega-inspired Toro in NYC. Author of the book The New Charcuterie: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home, Bisonette will be hosting a charcuterie master class (March 7 and 8) as well as a dinner with chef Jesse Gerner at Bomba (March 4).
March 4, $125.

Justin Gellatly at Festival Artisan Bakery & Bar

British baker Justin Gellatly, co-founder of London’s acclaimed Bread Ahead bakery, former pastry chef at St John Restaurant and the man who baked the bread for Will and Kate’s royal wedding and who has earned a cult following in the UK for his doughnuts is bringing his expert baking skills to Melbourne for the first time. He’ll be hosting masterclasses and appearing with French icon and fourth-generation Parisian baker Éric Kayser (Maison Kayser) and a range of celebrated local guest bakers at the Festival Artisan Bakery & Bar in Southbank – a haven for lovers of all things sweet and carby.
February 27 to March 15

The Highway 1 Street Party at Abbotsford Convent

An evening with four of Australia’s top chefs, some of Victoria’s greatest winemakers and one of Melbourne’s most iconic outdoor settings – sounds like our kind of street party. Wine producers from Bindi, Crawford River, Mac Forbes and The Wanderer will be on hand to fill your glass, while chefs Dave Moyle (Franklin, Hobart), Dave Pynt (Burnt Endz, Singapore), Aaron Turner (Husk, Nashville) and Josh Murphy (Builders Arms and Moon Under Water) will provide the evening’s culinary offerings.
March 7, $120

Tomato Sugo Day at Pop-Up Patch

If you’ve ever wanted to learn traditional Italian preserving (or just wished you’d been born into an Italian family), then here’s your big chance. Sugo day is the highlight of every Italian family’s calendar, when the summer’s ripest tomatoes are made into sauce and bottled up for the year ahead. Here you’ll make your own sugo to take home, as well as enjoying a shared, nonna-style pasta feast and a couple of well-earned vinos.
March 8, $130-150

Gin Garden Party at Como House

What better way to see off the end of summer than with an afternoon garden party in one of Melbourne’s most historic gardens (and a whole lotta gin)? A hand-picked A-team of Melbourne’s top bartenders will get busy with gins from Victoria’s Bass & Flinders Distillery, while chefs at The Stables of Como will provide a range of delicious afternoon high-tea treats in the historic Como House gardens.
February 28, $75

The 2015 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne runs from February 27 to March 15. Tickets are available now.

melbournefoodandwine.com.au