Starting this week, 40 of the world's most influential and respected food and wine VIPs will arrive in Victoria as part of a country-wide gastronomic tour designed to whet the appetite of international travellers. And when they do, they'll experience firsthand what many locals already know – that Victoria is fast becoming one of the world's 'go to' food and wine destinations.
|Left - Nino Pangrazio (of pellegrinis) Middle: Bruno Gambacorta Right: Sisto Malaspina (of pellegrinis)|
And when they do, they'll experience firsthand what many locals already know – that Victoria is fast becoming one of the world's 'go to' food and wine destinations.
The culinary who's who will include food and wine writers, broadcasters, authors, critics, reviewers and bloggers as well as celebrity chefs, TV personalities and columnists from across the globe – all here as part of Tourism Australia's Restaurant Australia initiative.
The guests list also includes five judges for the esteemed San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants – all of whom specifically requested to visit Victoria as part of their Australia trip.
Andrea Petrini, Chairman of the judging panel of The World's 50 Best Restaurantsis returning to Melbourne having visited as recently as October 2014 when he took part in Chef Ben Shewry's WAW gathering. WAW (What a Wonderful World) is an 'anti-festival' curated by the Attica team and attended by a group of local and international food 'dreamers and doers, instigators and investigators.'
Of Melbourne, Petrini said it is one of his 'must visit' destinations while in Australia.
'For a European, coming to Melbourne is going to the other side of the world but still finding some roots: it's different but not unfamiliar. Food is in the air like love is in the air. It's a very warm and friendly city that can manage to transmit the taste of things,' Petrini said.
Melbourne's culinary credentials are already well known to local diners and chefs – including Ben Shewry, Head Chef at Attica, which, at number 32, is the only Australian entry in the 50 Best Restaurants list. 'It's our isolation from the rest of the world that gives Melbourne an original identity,' Shewry said. 'That, coupled with a genuine love of food and a closeness to our growers makes Melbourne one of the most diverse and interesting places to eat on the planet.'
Another admirer is global culinary icon Heston Blumenthal, whose Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant sits at number 5 on the The World's 50 Best Restaurants list and who received the Chefs Choice Award in 2007 and 2010. Blumenthal has chosen Melbourne for a six-month relocation of his famous UK Fat Duck restaurant which will be open to diners from February 2015, subsequently; it will become the only international location of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
'If you want diversity, great food, comfortable, relaxed and buzzing environment I would say Melbourne,' Blumenthal said of his choice of location.
'Melbourne reminds me why I do what I do, why I enjoy all this food-related stuff,' he told Gourmet Traveller recently.
Victoria has long been a favourite destination for visiting international chefs and food writers who are amazed by the culinary diversity of restaurants, the hidden foodie gems and the professional hospitality received wherever they go. Here's what some of them had to say:
- 'I would rather eat in Melbourne, than Paris' … 'We like the chefs. We like how they cook. We consider them friends.' Anthony Bourdain, USA
- 'Melbourne is experiencing a culinary moment'…. AFAR, USA
- 'Great food scene here, great ingredients and really exciting place to be actually.' Brett Graham, The Ledbury, UK
- 'It's wonderful coming back to Victoria. I went to Luxembourg, one of Andrew McConnell's restaurants, and it was just delicious. It was unpretentious, easy, just fantastic, and that's what Victorian restaurants are about. It was worth coming to Melbourne just for that.' David Thompson, Nahm, Bangkok
- 'Melbourne doesn't only excel in the invigorating beverage - the city has arguably the best restaurant scene on the continent, encompassing every ethnic cuisine you can think of, using fantastically fresh, mostly home-grown ingredients.' Daily Mail, UK
- 'Melbourne is an ultimate destination for the so-called gastro-tourists. With a robust wine region within an hour's drive and some of the world's top restaurants within the city limits, it's worth that very long plane ride.' Food Republic, USA
Tourism Minister Louise Asher said as part of the Restaurant Australia campaign, each guest would be given a personalised itinerary allowing them to experience the people, places and produce that give Victoria its extraordinary culinary reputation.
Some of the experiences they will enjoy include an experimental dinner prepared by George Calombaris in the Press Club Projects kitchen, cooking classes at Queen Victoria Market using the fresh produce, bespoke explorations of Melbourne's multi-cultural food markets and precincts, coffee tasting with the city's best baristas, a guided tour of Attica's kitchen garden with Ben Shewry, insight into Shannon Bennett's vision for Burnham Beeches, flying fishing in the High Country and meeting with chefs, artisan producers and wine makers in regions such as Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Daylesford.
'I'm delighted that so many of the world's top food and wine VIPs chose to visit Victoria as part of the Restaurant Australia campaign.
'During their time here they'll get to experience, first-hand, the culinary offerings that make Victoria a world class gastronomic destination.'
'More importantly though, they'll share these incredible stories through their followings, helping to inspire visitors from all over the world to follow in their footsteps,' Ms Asher said.
Visit www.piecesofvictoria.com/eatdrinkvictoria for more information about Victoria's food and wine.