In a nod to the worldwide trend towards seasonal and regional produce, the theme for the 2013 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is ‘Earth’. The festival returns to the source with an inspiring program of chefs from Melbourne and abroad, whose ethos is guided by the connection between the land and the produce on our plates. The festival may still be a good five months away but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning. Here are a few events we’re excited about. Get in quick as these events usually sell out well in advance.

Earth Masterclass
Showcasing the theme of the festival is the Earth Masterclass, a roaming outdoor event that features interactive workshops with Ben Shewry (Attica), Massimo Spigaroli (Antica Corte Pallavicina, Parma, Italy), Matt Wilkinson (Pope Joan and Bishop of Ostia), Ed Kenney (TOWN restaurant, Honolulu) and Michael Stadtländer (Eigensinn Farm, Ontario, Canada). Expect to learn how to bake in clay, lay a hangi and harvest and produce a meal from the veggie patch.

Friday March 8, 2013

Sean Brock Masterclass
The Langham Melbourne MasterClasses bring together some of the world’s most interesting chefs, who will all explore their connection with earth through food. Southern chef Sean Brock is reviving the lost art of Southern American cooking. The tattooed chef, who hails from Virginia, only serves food that is indigenous to the South in his restaurant Husk.

Saturday March 9 and Sunday March 10, 2013

Enrique Olvera Masterclass
Enrique Olvera from Pujol in Mexico can count Rene Redzepi as one his fans and is famous for combining modern Mexican cooking technique with age-old traditions. Given our city’s recent obsession with Mexican food, this masterclass is bound to sell out quickly.

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Sunday March 10, 2013 (Saturday March 9 sold out)

Magnus Nilsson Masterclass
Hunter-gatherer Magnus Nilsson visits from his remote 12-seat restaurant Fäviken Magasinet in Jämtland, Sweden. The locavore will be demonstrating traditional Scandinavian techniques including pickling, fermenting and curing.

Saturday March 9, 2013

Virgilio Martinez Masterclass
Former pro-skateboarder Virgilio Martinez from Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru, is known for championing rare ingredients from the Andes and the Amazon, but is just as comfortable working with produce from his local farmers’ market. He is also the owner of a vast collection of salt – 120 different types, to be exact.

Saturday March 9 and Sunday March 10, 2013

Australian chefs, including Andrew McConnell (Cutler & Co., Cumulus Inc., Golden Fields and The Builders Arms), Karen Martini (Mr wolf), Martin Boetz (Longrain) and Aaron Turner (Loam, Bellarine Peninsula) will present alongside the festival’s international guests.

Perfect Match
Don’t miss Perfect Match, which examines the enduring partnership of food and wine through the relationship between chef and winemaker. Benjamin Cooper of Chin Chin discusses how to tame the chilli beast with winemaker Neil Prentice from Moondarra Wines, Gippsland, while Alla Wolf-Tasker from the Lake House in Daylesford and Michael Dhillon from Bindi Wines in the Macedon Ranges discuss their commitment to sustainable food and wine.

Saturday March 9 and Sunday March 10, 2013

Theatre of Ideas
This festival’s Theatre of Ideas explores the realities of living off the land with chefs Magnus Nilsson, Michael Stadtländer and DIY farmer and ex-food critic Matthew Evans. All three speakers will draw from their own experiences of living off their own farms to discuss the importance of the relationship between chefs and farmers, and to muse over the question of how we will feed ourselves in the future.

Sunday March 10, 2013

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from March 1 to 17, 2013.