Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2015 line-up

 Dan Barber, Eric Werner, Ruth Rogers, Simon Rogan and Jamie Bissonnette

Dan Barber, Eric Werner, Ruth Rogers, Simon Rogan and Jamie Bissonnette

It's the highlight of the culinary calendar - 17 days of epic eating, drinking, collaborating and sharing. We're talking about the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, folks, and it's back in February for another round of fun.

As always, the schedule is looking suitably tasty, with the Bank of Melbourne World's Longest Lunch and the Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience returning to the mix. On the newer end of the spectrum, you've got The Essentials workshops, offering demonstrations of such skills as simple salad dressing by Pope Joan's Matt Wilkinson, and achieving pizza perfection by 400 Gradi's Johnny Di Francesco.

The boozier highlights include Return to Terroir - a gathering of more than 40 of the world's leading biodynamic wine producers - and Perfect Match, where food and wine personalities (Moon Park's Ben Sears with his wife, Eun Hee An, and Brad Hickey of McLaren Vale winery Brash Higgins, for example) join forces to present a host of pairings for the more daring palate.

And then, of course, there are the International chef dinners and Langham Melbourne MasterClass sessions, which showcase the knowledge and talent of star chefs from around the globe. The 2015 line-up is solid. Here are our hottest picks.

Dan Barber
Where he cooks Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York, USA
What he's famous for Dan Barber is best-known for his ethical stance on food and agriculture. His cooking, which is best described as earthy, produce-focused and heavily reliant on the seasons, has earned him many accolades - among them, a spot in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People list in 2009. Barber has also written extensively on the topic of sustainable eating, which is the focus of his book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food (Penguin, $34.32, hbk).
Where you can catch him Theatre of Ideas: In Conversation with Dan Barber (6 March).

Ruth Rogers
Where she cooks The River Café, London, UK
What she's famous for Chef and co-founder of London landmark The River Café, Ruth Rogers is a pioneer in seasonal Italian cooking. Her food is renowned for its fresh, rustic, regionally focused qualities. The 10 River Café books she wrote with the late Rose Gray, her partner in business and the kitchen, have sold by the thousands, garnering acclaim the world over.
Where you can catch her Langham Melbourne MasterClass (7 and 8 March).

Jamie Bissonnette
Where he cooks Coppa, Boston, and Toro, Boston and New York, USA
What he's famous for Jamie Bissonnette is your go-to guy for nose-to-tail cooking in Boston. His restaurants, the Italian-accented Coppa and the Spanish-influenced Toro (which also has a branch in New York), have made waves in the US with their richly produce-centric menus. He's pretty handy when it comes to charcuterie, too, so much so that he wrote a book about it - The New Charcuterie: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home (Page Street Publishing, $29.72, hbk).
Where you can catch him Langham Melbourne MasterClass (7 and 8 March) and International Chef Dinner at Bomba (4 March).

Simon Rogan
Where he cooks L'Enclume, Aulis, The French by Simon Rogan, Fera at Claridges, Rogan & Co., Mr Cooper's House & Garden, and The Pig & Whistle, UK
What he's famous for Is Simon Rogan Britain's busiest chef? With seven restaurants under his belt you'd certainly think so. Rogan cut his teeth in the kitchens of Jean-Christophe Novelli and Marco Pierre White before opening L'Enclume, his fine diner in England's Lake District in 2002. Today, his portfolio spans everything from fine dining to pub fare, and he's recognised across the country for his support of organically farmed produce.
Where you can catch him International Chef Dinner at The Royal Mail Hotel (14 March).

Eric Werner
Where he cooks Hartwood, Tulum, Mexico
What he's famous for Eric Werner's cooking, some could argue, is as planet-friendly as it gets. At Hartwood, his remote Caribbean-accented restaurant set in the jungles of Tulum, he cooks only with fire and produce sourced from local farms. The restaurant's waste is broken down into compost and its power is derived solely form solar panels. And Werner still manages to turn out food that's fresh and modern, with a touch of rusticity.
Where you can catch him International Chef Dinner at Newmarket Hotel (1 March).

The 2015 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival runs from 27 February-15 March. 


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