This year, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival turns 25, and is putting on more than 200 events to celebrate. Not only will MFWF be tipping its hat to those who helped make the festival a must-do since 1992 – but it will also roll out the welcome mat to international talent by hosting the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants awards night in Melbourne for the first time.
Below is our list of highlights – but make sure you check out the full program.
The best of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
It's no secret Melbourne has made an art out of breakfast (or brunch, to be more specific), which is why this year's festival hub – the House of Food and Wine – will be hosting the ultimate boozy brunch event on Sunday April 2. A line-up of sweet and savoury dishes will be presented by MoVida, Magic Mountain Saloon, Tokyo Tina, Mario's Café, Top Paddock, Higher Ground, Longhorn Saloon and Om Nom. If you need a little pep for the day, MoVida will be curating a wine and sherry list, while Romeo Lane will be making cocktails including a special Bloody Mary.
You may be familiar with top-to-toe cooking, but this dinner collaboration between mini-farm Grown and Gathered and barbecue joint Fancy Hank's will see a pig that has been ethically raised specifically for the dinner used in its entirety on Monday April 3. The pig will be cooked in several ways using charcoal and open flame, and will be served with salads and sides from Grown and Gathered's cookbook. Natural wines from the farm will be served with the seasonal feast.
Five minutes with Stephanie Alexander
How has the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival changed since your first event with the festival back in 1992?
MFWF has just become bigger and better over the years. It seems to be well ahead of the trend and the line-up of international guests is always exciting. The mix of local events with those from abroad has been well managed I think.
How do you think the average Australian household has changed when it comes to home cooking, since the release of your well-loved cookbook The Cook’s Companion in 1992?
Sometimes I wonder how much home cooking actually still goes on. Especially in households headed by the under 30s. The proliferation of cafés and food destinations offer seductive alternatives to doing it yourself. However, for most families economics plays a part and not many families can afford to eat out five times a week. I also think The Cook’s Companion is still relevant – modern mums may well have chosen to purchase the digital app of The Cook’s Companion. To have it in your pocket is much easier than taking all 2.5kg of it to the supermarket!
Food trends, as we’re well aware, come and go. But what doesn’t go out of style in the food world?
Fresh fruit and vegetables. We are fortunate in Melbourne in having such a range of fresh food markets, as well as specialist farmers’ markets as well as our strip shopping greengrocers. No one needs to be buying their fruit and vegetables on a tray wrapped in plastic.
Where is your favourite place to do the groceries in Melbourne?
I frequent an IGA for the basics. It is small and personal and has a great selection of specialist lines such as good Australian olive oils, cheeses, fresh pasta and artisan baked goods. I also go to specialist delis such as my favourite Laikon in Bridge Road, Richmond.
What’s your favourite dish in Melbourne at the moment and why?
No answer! Favourite dish is a concept I cannot relate to. It is always the last delicious thing I have tasted. And more often I have cooked it myself.
What are you most excited about for this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival?
The fresh produce market, HarvEAST, which I am curating (together with Richard Cornish) at Eastland to be held on Sunday April 9.
The best restaurants in Melbourne
Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old, and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.