Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Memoir 1 MasterClasses
March 31 – April 2, 2017
As Tastemakers for the World’s 50 Best Restaurant brand, we were invited to Melbourne to attend the 2017 Awards Ceremony (tickets are by invite only, never sold, to retain exclusivity). This was reason enough for us to begin planning our excursion down under. Additionally, the Melbourne Food and Wine Organization invited us to enjoy all 8 of the Master Classes plus Fire 2.0 compliments of them during their annual food and wine festival. The Australian Tourism Board was seeking to gain global attention and this was the perfect event to make that happen. We couldn’t justify going all the way to Australia just to eat and drink, however, so we built in some time on an island off the Bass Straight of the Indian Ocean in the remote wilderness where we experienced kangaroo in the wild along with penguins and koala – we will cover this portion in Memoir 3.
Australia has so much more to offer than what we were able to experience in our short time there that we desire to go back to see Sydney as well as the furtherest southern tip of Tasmania. The weather was turning brisk at night but warm and sunny during the day as the season turned to fall, it was quite the perfect time to visit! We’ll begin with details from Master Classes & cover The World’s 50 Best Events separately in Memoir 2.
Arrival to Melbourne
The direct overnight flight from LAX to MEL allowed us to hit the ground running after flying for 15.5 hours straight, it was 8 in the morning when we landed, so we had our entire day ahead of us to eat and explore. The hottest brunch spot in town is HigherGround, so we headed straight there to enjoy a massive brunch. We are expert travelers, so we secured our one roller bag each in lockers at the train station while we waited for check-in at the Air BnB later that afternoon. After brunch we took a 4 mile stroll through the city to see the Botanical Gardens, Memorials & Yarra River – staying on the move helps immensely with jet lag considering it is a 15 hour time difference between Central USA and Melbourne, AU.
Courtesy of Melbourne Food and Wine, all day Saturday April 1 and Sunday April 2, we attended Master Classes thanks to the roving VIP lanyards they provided. All of the World’s 50 Best Tastemakers attended taking notes and chatting with the chefs after each session. The takeaway for attendees included live instruction on how to cook at least one of each of the chef’s famous signature dishes. Take for example that Mike Bagale and Grant Achatz of The Alinea Group traveled all the way from Chicago and made over 60 green apple balloons live on stage for all of the “watch and learn” ticket holders. It was quite hilarious to watch folks eat balloons out of the air. It’s impossible to be unhappy when you’re devouring a candy flavored ballon mid air – we’ve had the pleasure of doing so on multiple occasions in Chicago! Not that it’s practical to ever make floating food at home, we left with the recipe booklet in hand none the less.
Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa traveled all the way from Tokyo with surprises for all of his guests. Imagine our surprise when we were handed a Monaka filled with foie gras, white miso persimmon and pickled radish that came all the way from Japan hand delivered by chef himself! We devoured ours the following day for breakfast ahead of our degustation at Lune Lab. Delicious little treat from the Master himself.
The following chefs headlined over the two-day event: Ashley Palmer-Watts (pictured) of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal London, Grant Achatz of the Alinea Group Chicago, Gaston Acurio of Astrid Y Gaston Peru, Carlo Cracco of Cracco Ristorante Italy, David Thompson of Nahm Bangkok, Wylie Dufresne as a free agent chef NYC, Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil Mexico City & Zaiyu Hasegawa from Den Tokyo.
The event wrapped up with a dinner hosted by Melbourne Food and Wine at the House of Food and Wine on a laneway off Little Lonsdale Street called Fire 2.0 – the oldest and most primal way of cooking, with food prepared by Paul Carmichael, Neil Perry, Lennox Hastie and Dave Verheul. Chefs drew inspiration over coals and barbecue pits showcasing Melbourne’s dining culture over the last 25 years. Standout dish was the beef short rib.
We returned to the USA with eight recipe booklets of which we may attempt one of Ashley Palmer Watts recipes for Green Sauce. The biggest takeaway of the two days was bonding with fellow Tastemakers as well as the personal invitations we received from chefs to visit their restaurants. Now that we have Zaiyu’s personal invitation to Den, we’re making the trip to Tokyo next year. The culinary community is inclusive (one big happy family) and extremely nurturing which is why we put gastronomy and fine dining at the core of our lifestyle. Melbourne Food and Wine did a fantastic job hosting visitors from around the world.
To be continued…
Next up: “Memoir 2 – The World’s 50 Best Events.”
Thanks for reading!
E & B Woodward
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