“Welcome to Australia,” said Neil Perry to a room of guests at his Melbourne temple of regional Chinese cooking, Spice Temple on Sunday night. “We’re thrilled to have you here. Please enjoy our hospitality.”
While short, the pony-tailed chef’s introduction was undoubtedly sweet and captured the spirit in the city this weekend. Since June’s announcement that Melbourne would be hosting the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, the country has been busily preparing for the arrival of what Perry (among others) have dubbed “the culinary Olympics.” Now that the awards are here, it’s time for Australia’s hospitality industry to walk the proverbial walk (which, for Perry, means catering Wednesday night’s award ceremony and feeding a room full of food royalty: no small task).
On its own, the onset of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards – the controversial but deeply influential list that uses an international panel of voters to rank the world’s restaurants – is news enough. That it dovetailed with the 25th Melbourne Food and Wine Festival has laid the foundations for a food party the likes of which Australia may never see again.
Like any office of mildly obsessed restaurant stalkers, team Broadsheet has been impatiently counting down the weeks to the awards. We’ve been chalking up pre-emptive gym time in anticipation of these festivities and will be sharing news with you each day, from updates on what all the talented locals are doing this week, to behind-the-scenes images from guest chef dinners. In addition to daily stories, we’ll be collating a lot of snippets here in Broadcasting Ringside, your daily digest of World’s 50 Best Restaurants news. Thanks for being part of the party. Like Perry said, we’re thrilled to have you here.
Home, Sweet Home
The kitchen teams at Melbourne’s QT Hotel are, understandably, feeling nervous this week. For the next few days, they – and the rest of the hotel’s staff – are hosting some of the biggest names in international and Australian dining. Normally, the opulent Gallic design flourishes at QT’s Pascale Bar & Grill are the main talking points over breakfast: this week, it’s all about covert games of name-that-chef. (And before you grab your autograph book and make a bee-line straight for the hotel’s website, QT is already fully booked during the awards period).
Where’s Everyone Eating and Drinking?
Keen-eyed Instagram stalkers may have noticed plenty of out-of-towners (and world’s top chefs) transmitting from Attica, not surprising considering Ben Shewry’s Ripponlea stronghold is Australia’s current top-ranked restaurant. The Ripponlea fine diner has reportedly opened for lunch sittings this week to cope with demand.
The new-look Cutler & Co – in particular, its mighty bar menu – has also proven popular, as has Igni, Aaron Turner’s all-fire, all-singing and sometimes-dancing wood-cooking Geelong restaurant. Last night’s opening service of That’s Amore, a five-night-only pop-up wine bar from Rootstock co-founder Giorgio De Maria and former Marque head chef and Cafe Paci founder, Pasi Petänen, also attracted plenty of interstate and international guests. Melbourne favourites Tipo 00 and Higher Ground have also been on chefs’ hit lists.
Where’s Everyone Eating and Drinking Later?
You know (and love) Embla, the CBD wine bar for all. Now meet (and love) Embla, the unofficial late-night World’s 50 Best cantina. MFWF and local food heavy-hitter Tony Tan has put together Friendly Fire, a late-night supper club featuring cameos from guest chefs – Tina Li from Dainty Sichuan, for instance – and guest journalists including Pat Nourse, the Australian World’s 50 Best chair who’ll be rattling the pans tonight. From tonight till Thursday, Embla is extending its trading hours till 3am to cater to the awards crowd.
Who’s Got Rules About Cooking Demonstrations
“I’m not getting my hands dirty,” cries David Thompson, the famous Thai food chef, during his Saturday morning Melbourne Food and Wine masterclass after palming off the squishing of rice balls to another on-stage chef. “When doing your demonstrations, always get someone else to do the dirty work.” In other advice on getting ahead in the world of cooking: “Pilfering. It’s the unspoken kitchen law.”