From a Spanish seafood crusader and a British fishmonger turned award-winning chef, to a trail blazer for indigenous Chilean cuisine, some of the globe’s most inspiring culinary stars will gather in Australia for Melbourne Food and Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne, 28 February – 16 March 2014.

Buoyed by the central theme of water, Festival 2014 will take food and wine lovers on a journey to discover all things sustainable, wild caught and hand dived, while uncovering forward-thinking chefs and exploring regions from the shores of Victoria to Patagonia, the River Po and everywhere in between.

At the hotly anticipated Langham Melbourne MasterClass, 8 – 9 March, learn from and taste the creations from the new wave of young gun chefs alongside global greats of the kitchen as they share their connection with the world’s most precious resource, water. The 2014 line-up includes:

Blaine Wetzel, Lummi Island, USA – With Willows Inn on Rene Redzepi’s dining bucket list, Blaine is a rising star and one to watch. A true locavore, Blaine only draws on a nine-square-mile patch of Lummi Island to catch, pick and forage ingredients.

Angel Leon, Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain – Spain’s Best Chef in the National Gastronomic Awards, Angel’s food is driven by the mantra ‘Tell a story about what happens in the sea’. Ocean produce is the backbone of his menu from sustainable seafood like mackerel and ling, to seaweed and plankton.

Mitch Tonks, Cornwall, UK – ‘A fishmonger for the 21st century’ (The Independent, UK) with three award-winning restaurants, Mitch is a self-taught chef with an infectious enthusiasm for cooking with seafood.

Rodolfo Guzman, Santiago, Chile – drawing from his time at Mugaritz and a passion for reinvigorating Chilean cuisine, Rodolfo’s food at Borago (#8 The World’s 50 Best Restaurants) embraces indigenous cooking techniques and foraged produce from Chile’s diverse regions, from the dry Atacama Desert to the enigmatic Easter Island.

Johnny Iuzzini, Williamsburg, USA – with over 20 years’ experience in the kitchen, Johnny is recognised as one of the most influential pastry chefs in America (Forbes) and cooks with the motto “desserts are last, but don’t let them be least”.

Damian D’Silva, Singapore – an ex-aeronautical engineer, Damian takes inspiration from Singapore’s rich food heritage and lost recipes from his childhood to create his spin on traditional street food.

Luigi Taglienti, Milan, Italy – Luigi combines his passion for pure Italian produce with inspiration from growing up at his mother’s beachside restaurant to earn his place in the new generation of Italian star chefs, with a Michelin star in tow.
Mauro Uliassi, Senigallia, Italy – With two decades in the restaurant industry under his belt, Mauro turns Italian classics on their head at his flagship two Michelin-starred restaurant.

These international guest chefs will join some of Australia’s most celebrated stars including:

Donovan Cooke, Melbourne – With Michelin-star pedigree and faultless skill and technique, Donovan heralds an ‘ocean to plate’ philosophy at The Atlantic.

Shane Delia, Melbourne – Shane’s original and eclectic approach to Middle Eastern cuisine at Maha has earned his status as one of Australia’s most loved chefs.

Dan Hong, Sydney – One of Australia’s fastest rising chefs, Dan is renowned for crafting bold and brilliant flavours at his three restaurants, Ms G’s, El Loco and Mr Wong.

Ryan Squires, Brisbane – A fierce campaigner for sustainable seafood, Ryan trained at elBulli and The French Laundry and now heads up the only three-hat restaurant in Brisbane, Esquire.

Also part of Langham Melbourne MasterClass, Perfect Match uncovers classic and quirky food and wine pairings guided by Victorian chefs, winemakers, sommeliers and producers. Presenter duos include Geoff Lindsay (Dandelion, Elwood) and Mike Aylward (Ocean Eight Winery, Mornington Peninsula) creating matches for fresh Vietnamese flavours, and Rosa Mitchell (Rosa’s Kitchen, Melbourne) and Owen Latta (Eastern Peake Vineyard, Ballarat) sharing pairings inspired by ‘God’s Kitchen’, the island of Sicily.

Now at the core of the Festival’s new dedicated wine weekend, 1 – 2 March, Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience returns with a four-session program guided by Australia’s most influential winemakers, writers and sommeliers including Rick Kinzbrunner (Giaconda, High Country), Guill de Pury (Yeringberg, Yarra Valley) and Banjo Harris-Plane (Attica, Melbourne).

Other highlights over the 17-day Festival:

The Festival’s hub project and centrepiece of the 2014 program will pop up in the city’s Queensbridge Square and explore the cycle of water with a temporary bar, restaurant and raingarden. Following on from the Urban Coffee Farm & Brew Bar in 2013, this ambitious project designed for the second year by HASSELL, anchors three levels to the Yarra’s edge with Melbourne chefs including Florent Gerardin (Silo), Jesse Gerner (Anada & Bomba), Adam Liston (Borrowed Space) and Daniel Wilson (Huxtable & Huxtaburger) bringing their take on dishes inspired by the three states of water – liquid, solid and gas – to the restaurant. By night, the country’s boundary-pushing bartenders will craft one-off cocktails and drinks that celebrate the cycle of water.

Festival favourite Bank of Melbourne World’s Longest Lunch (28 February) celebrates the first day of the Festival along in the banks of the Yarra in Alexandra Park. The three-course menu will be designed by Jacques Reymond, Adam D’Sylva, and Stefano di Pieri as they draw on personal connections to the Amazon, Mekong, and Murray-Darling rivers respectively.

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