The position of women in the restaurant industry has been a hot topic over the last 12 months. Striking a celebratory note, the 2019 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival kicks off on International Women's Day next March with a lunch by three of the state's most accomplished women in food.
Karen Martini, Nicky Riemer (Bellota) and Lauren Eldridge (Stokehouse) will headline the 2019 World's Longest Lunch, the festival's opening event and one of its most popular since the festival's beginnings in 1993.
"Karen Martini is an absolute giant of the Melbourne food scene and the perfect candidate to lead our all-female chef line-up," says Food and Wine Victoria CEO Anthea Loucas Bosha. "Add Nicky Riemer and we have two chefs whose Mediterranean-style food will find the perfect setting in Prahran's Victoria Gardens. And who else could we turn to close out the menu than Stokehouse's Lauren Eldrige? Lauren has established herself as one of the country's most exciting pastry talents and rounds out this showcase of exceptional Melbourne food talent."
Martini's career includes stints at legendary Melbourne kitchens including Tansy's and Melbourne Wine Room, while Riemer put Richmond's Union Dining on the map before selling the business in 2017. Eldridge, meanwhile, did several years at Marque in Sydney before travelling the world, including a stint at World's 50 Best winner Osteria Francescana. She's now group pastry chef across Stokehouse and several other restaurants owned by the Van Haandel family.
The trio will cook for an expected 1600 people in Prahran's Victoria Gardens, with Riemer on entrées, Martini handling mains and Eldridge taking the reins for dessert. Tahblik wines will be on pour.
A 500-metre table will be set up in the gated park in Melbourne's inner-south for the occasion, which heralds the start of the 27th year of the festival.
The entire festival program will be announced on 27 November. Tickets for all events go on sale that day.
World's Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, 8 March 2019, noon-3pm, Victoria Gardens, 361 High St, Prahran, Vic. $175 for three courses and wine, melbournefoodandwine.com.au