Food & Culture

Just in: The 2019 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Program

The stellar line-up features Montréal's famed Joe Beef, a gin soirée in the Botanical Gardens and an after-dark food and wine sensory challenge.

The Gourmet Salt Lake Sunset Dinner, 2018
The Gourmet Salt Lake Sunset Dinner, 2018 (Vision House Photography)

Earlier this month, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival announced it would kick off on International Women's Day next March with its inaugural World's Longest Lunch event. Headlined by Karen Martini, Nicky Riemer and Lauren Eldridge, the 2019 female-led event of 1600 seats sold out in just 32 minutes.

Now, the festival's full program has been released. Dangling an impressive line-up of international and home-grown talent (Quay's Peter Gilmore will be presenting exclusive dishes), along with an extensive list of food-for-thought conversations on sustainability and chef-led masterclasses, the 2019 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival promises to lure punters from around the country.

The House of Food and Wine will transform Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre into a premium drinking and dining destination on the opening weekend (March 8-11). Throughout the day, the Theatre of Events will hear discussions on the industry's current climate, with no topic off the menu. Sam Sifton, Food Editor at The New York Times, will grill chefs on their edible inspirations, while creatives such as Derek Dammann from Montréal's Maison Publique will host hands-on workshops.

Melbourne's after-hours scene will also receive a welcomed boost come March with a candlelit dinner hosted by Montréal's Joe Beef. The lauded restaurant will serve Melbourne locals with a rare chance to taste Quebec's hedonistic style of gastronomy. Gourmands can put their food and wine IQ to the test with The Hungry Gentlemen's sensory challenge, while those seeking a more international flavour will enjoy All The Chickens. Headlined by Matt Abergel of Hong Kong breakout restaurants Yardbird and Ronin, the event will treat guests to a globetrotting menu of chicken signatures including yakitori, Abergel's Yardbird dish that uses almost every part of the bird.

Matt Abergel's Yardbird in Hong Kong — Yakitori Grill.
Matt Abergel's Yardbird in Hong Kong — Yakitori Grill.

The Melbourne Food & Wine Regional Weekend will take place on March 15-17, with out-of-town culinary stars playing host to three days of long lunches and food tours. The Crawl n Bite is back with the world-class producers of Ballarat, Healesville, Kyneton opening their doors and inviting guests to celebrate their great gastronomic offerings like a local.

Saturday March 16 and Sunday March 17 will also mark the Village Fest Weekend, where the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival will take over a tiny Victorian town and transform it into a culinary pop-up for 48 hours. In 2019, it's Jindivick's turn. Located in Gippsland, just an hour out of Melbourne, Jindivick will merge its local producers, winemakers, distillers and bakers with some of Melbourne city's heroed cafés and restaurants for a country weekender like no other. Grab your tickets January 30.

2018's Regional World's Longest Lunch — Oak and Monkey Puzzle, Daylesford
2018's Regional World's Longest Lunch — Oak and Monkey Puzzle, Daylesford

The festival will play out at restaurants within the city with the festival's Umbrella Program (8-24 March) which showcases Melbourne's most buzzed about dining hot spots. MoVida will throw an all-day city block party with unlimited Spanish eats, Scott Pickett will host a soirée to celebrate native botanicals and gin in the Botanical Gardens, and George Calombaris will present his "Souva-lucky" pop-up.

Other festival highlights will include Restaurant Express (March 8-24), the city Crawl 'n' Bite (18-19 March) and the growing River Graze (22-24 March) which in 2019 will include an Asian Hawker Market.

The 27th Melbourne Food & Wine Festival runs 8-24 March 2019. Information and bookings at melbournefoodandwine.com.au