Sydney Italian Wine and Food Festival 2015

"Italians do it better." Before you jump to point to examples of recent military history, economics or governance, let's be fair - Italy really does have the eating and drinking thing down to a pretty fine art.

And what better way to refresh, revive, deepen or merely indulge your love and understanding of the One True Cuisine than with a visit to The Sydney Italian Wine and Food Festival when it makes its triumphant return to the Town Hall on Sunday 30 August?

There are plenty of vinous good times in store, with more than 300 wines from Italian and Australian producers on pour. The mighty masterclasses are making a comeback, too, with Gourmet Traveller's own Max Allen leading conversations alongside fellow wine writer Huon Hooke covering everything from the history of Tuscan winemaking to the "unmasking" of Valpolicella.

And better yet, says festival director Lara Caraturo, "the food is definitely going to be taking a big step up this year."

Ormeggio's Alessandro Pavoni and Giovanni Pilu from Pilu at Freshwater are returning to head a packed schedule of cooking demonstrations and talks, whether it's butter versus olive oil or modern versus traditional Italian cooking, with the help of their peers from the Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia.

New to the mix are olive oil masterclasses from Pendolino's Nino Zoccali, pasta and cheesemaking demonstrations, plus "meet the chef" tours where Pilu and Pavoni share their favourite Italian regions and top local suppliers.

This year's food market, brought to you by Gourmet Traveller, is bigger and better than ever, featuring coffee by Espresso di Manfredi, soft drinks and water by San Pellegrino, butter churned on the spot by Pepe Saya, and honey from The Urban Beehive.

This year the festival is a day-and-night party, too. Stick around after dark to catch some of the city's finest young talent flexing their culinary muscles with demonstrations by Federico Zanellato of Lumi and ACME's Mitch Orr. You can also kick on the following evening at Balla, where chefs Pilu, Pavoni, Gabriele Taddeucci (Balla), Eugenio Maiale (A Tavola), and Francesco Spataro (Aperitivo) are pulling out all the stops for a five-course dinner inspired by different regions of Italy.

"There's going to be lots of opportunities to learn," says Caraturo, "and plenty of opportunities to eat, of course - it's an Italian event, after all."

The Sydney Italian Wine and Food Festival runs from 11am to 9pm on Sunday 30 August at Sydney Town Hall. Tickets start at $25; visit their website for more details.


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