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The Kitchen Garden at the Royal Mail Hotel
Emily WeavingThe Kitchen Garden at the Royal Mail Hotel.

Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2022: Best Innovation

These are the nominees for Best Innovation in the Time Out Melbourne Food & Drink Awards 2022

By Time Out in partnership with Tyro
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There’s never been a better time to introduce an award celebrating restaurant innovation. Coming off the challenges of the past two years, acknowledging the visionaries who question the ways restaurants are run and experienced isn’t just nice – it’s needed. Proving our thesis that the restaurant industry is a bellwether of change in the way we all live, our innovation shortlist features a host of early adapters.

First cab off the rank: the philosophy of better farming, closer to home. Anyone who’s had the privilege of exploring the Royal Mail Hotel’s incredible kitchen gardens on the outskirts of Dunkeld will see what a full-scale commitment to the paddock-to-plate concept looks like: Australia’s largest kitchen garden supplies around 80 per cent of its needs, while beef and lamb comes from the nearby farm.

Back in the big city, Dennis Yong’s Parcs mightn’t have an acreage, but it does have a steely commitment to sustainable dining utilising what other chefs would regard as scraps. A visit to the wilds of Little Collins Street is a masterclass in the way the dark arts of fermentation can turn discards into deliciousness. Or maybe you want to head to Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters, which brings the whole of the state to Federation Square thanks to Alejandro Saravia and his full-throated support of artisan growers, producers and makers.

It’s hard to know how to categorise Jung Chae’s eponymous restaurant Chae, a six-seater showcase of Korean food. Crazy brave springs to mind, with a side order of the ancient wisdom of using food as medicine. Of course, innovation takes many forms. Provoking ideas and discussion is the raison d’être of Di Stasio Città (that and serving some of the city’s finest Italian), so we’ll raise a Negroni to the restaurant walls making like a gallery and championing avant-garde Australian artists such as Reko Rennie and Shaun Gladwell. Because dinner should never be boring.

These are the nominees for Best Fine Dining Restaurant.
These are the nominees for Best Regional Restaurant.
These are the nominees for Best Casual Dining Venue.

Want more? Click here to view all the nominees in the Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2022.

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And the nominees are...

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick

Back in November 2019, chef Jung Chae opened a six-seater Korean restaurant out of her one-bedroom apartment in Brunswick. The concept was simple: create an intimate, quiet space and let the food speak for itself. Fast forward to now, and Chae's restaurant now operates out of Cockatoo in South East Melbourne and combines a natural approach to cooking with traditional fermentation techniques and holistic wellness practices. This beautiful, healing and educational experience allows you to experience Korean food culture in the tranquillity of nature.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

When Melbourne restaurateur Rinaldo 'Ronnie' Di Stasio opened his restaurant Di Stasio Citta in 2019, it was clear from the design that the venue was to be more than just a restaurant – it was part gallery, too. Di Stasio, an avid art collector and patron, designed the restaurant around an intersection of food, art and architecture. Physical pieces adorn the surfaces of the CBD venue, with multimedia installations covering the walls and bathing white tablecloths in technicolour glow as each course is served. The current exhibitions often entwine with the menu – feeding your artistic mind, body and soul all at once.  

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Melbourne

Food waste in the hospitality industry is a recognised problem, and it's estimated that up to 250,000 tonnes of food are thrown away by Melbourne restaurants each year. Chef Dennis Yong is using new wine bar Parcs to address this issue – without sacrificing either quality or flavour. Owned by Adi Halim (Hotel WindsorAruSunda), the snacky small-dish menu consists of dishes composed of 70 per cent food excess from Halim's other venues, along with Melbourne institution Lune and wholesalers Market Boys, Hunted & Gathered and Citrus Prime. This dynamic enterprise addresses the food waste problem with skill and passion, creating one of Melbourne’s most innovative and exciting menus in the process.

  • Restaurants
  • Dunkeld
  • price 3 of 4

There are few things more innovative (or beautiful) in the Victorian food scene right now that the Kitchen Garden at the Royal Mail Hotel. Servicing the hotel's various eateries, chef Robin Wickens often hosts tours of the vast 1.2-hectare garden himself. Visitors learn how each and everything has a purpose – from the proud ducks who are employed to eat the snails and other pests, to the companion planting. Sample the fruits of the team’s labour along the way and receive a packet of seeds to sow at home. It's a thoughtful, intentional way to appreciate the state's incredible produce.

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  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

A dining experience unlike anything Melbourne has experienced before has seemingly materialised at Fed SquareIt’s called Victoria. A name far less kitschy and more literal than you might expect – almost everything you’ll taste, smell, sip (and occasionally even touch) here was made right here. The restaurant takes diners on a seasonal journey across Victoria, with a rotating ‘region in residence’ approach. It showcases the diversity of food and wine grown across the state –  from the paddocks of the Western Plains to the fruits of the Murray; from the waters of the Great Ocean Road to the vineyards of the High Country – unearthing stories along the way. 

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