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Connie Lambeth Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

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Restaurant Express Photo credit: Daniel Mahon
Restaurant Express
Photo credit: Daniel Mahon


Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Announces 2018 Legends

A coffee pioneer, an irresistible chef and author, a pioneering winemaker, the restaurateur who founded ‘Speed Date a Muslim’, the manager of a Melbourne institution and a transformative dairy farmer have been announced as the 2018 inductees to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Legends hall of fame.

The food and wine industry icons were inducted into the hall of fame at the Legends and Rising Stars Awards, held last night. The event was hosted by Jill Dupleix with the awards conferred by City of Melbourne’s Councillor Beverley Pinder, together with Hostplus Chief Marketing Officer Umberto Mecchi.

Joining Victoria’s most prestigious group of chefs, producers, culinary educators, wine producers and restaurateurs, the 2018 inductees are:

Food Producer/Retailer or Advocate – Giancarlo Giusti
Giancarlo Giusti co-founded Grinders Coffee House on Lygon Street Carlton in 1962, where he roasted, ground and sold his own coffee beans on site.  He kick-started the obsession with great coffee as part of a strong dining culture and educated a generation.

Chef/Restaurateur or Hospitality Professional – Jason Lui (Flower Drum)
The son of MFWF legend and Flower Drum Executive Chef and owner Anthony Lui, Jason has brought the Melbourne institution and its superior levels of service to greater heights, ensuring it a new relevance in a modern era of dining while protecting its legacy.

Communicator and Educator – Tony Tan (Chef/Cookbook Author)
Malaysian-born, Tony is an irresistible force as a great teacher, brilliant chef and a scholarly, thoughtful writer, with the power to bring people together at the table and who inspires the appreciation of Asian food in multicultural Melbourne.

Wine and Beverage Producer/Retailer or Advocate – Kathleen Quealy (Quealy Wines)
Kath was a force for change that struck the Mornington Peninsula with T’Gallant in 1990 and has been pushing the industry and the Peninsula forward with a series of firsts ever since – from the first unwooded Chardonnay, to being the first ‘queen of Pinot Grigio’.

Local Hero – Hana Assafiri (Moroccan Soup Bar)
Hana is determined to break the cycle of disadvantage for marginalised Muslim women in the community through employment and hospitality. Her initiatives ‘Speed Date A Muslim’ and ‘Conversation Salons’ break down barriers and bring people together in celebration and equality.

Hostplus Trailblazer – Simon Schulz (Schulz Organic Dairy)
Picking up the baton from his grandfather, MFWF Legend Hermann Schulz of Timboon Cheese, Simon is the driving force behind this dynamic organic dairy company. He is trailblazing a regenerative path for fellow dairy farmers, value-adding, and revolutionising wasteful packaging and distribution practices.

About the Legends

MFWF Legends are people who demonstrate:

Extended service to the Victorian food and wine industry.

An outstanding contribution to the Victorian food and wine industry through
innovation or education, whether creating artisan cheeses or a world-class restaurant, blazing a wine trail, or shaping the next generation of food professionals;

A proven record in inspiring and informing the public, the media and peers as an advocate for Victoria’s rich food and wine culture.

About the Categories
Food Producer/Retailer/Advocate
For their excellence and integrity in the growing, breeding, harvesting, processing or distribution of great food at any level.
For spreading the word and encouraging the appreciation of great food and wine through new or old media, teaching, writing, broadcasting or otherwise — sharing the joy.
Beverage Producer/Retailer/Advocate
For a great contribution to the growing, making, serving or appreciation of beer, cider, wine, spirits or other beverages.
Chef/Restaurateur/Hospitality Professional
For building our food culture and bringing enjoyment and appreciation of great food and wine to us all by virtue of the skill, talent, passion and integrity they bring to the restaurant industry.
Local Hero
For making a positive contribution to our food culture from a grass-roots level, whether working as an individual or as a community. In recognition of the fact that ‘from little things, big things grow’.

Hostplus Trailblazer AwardMust be 40 years or younger and have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the Victorian food and wine industry. The nominee must be professionally engaged in the Victorian food and wine industry – whether as a chef, sommelier, winemaker, journalist, caterer, producer, restaurateur, educator, retailer or other.


About Food and Wine Victoria

Food and Wine Victoria is the organisation behind the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne and supports the Victorian food and wine industries year-round through collaboration with the many stakeholders who contribute to these multimillion-dollar industries.


About Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) presented by Bank of Melbourne is Australia’s internationally acclaimed celebration of food and wine. Now approaching its 27th year in 2019, MFWF is a state-wide celebration with more than 300 events across Victoria.

For more information, visit our website


Kay-Lene Tan of Tonka and Coda awarded 2018 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship
Kay-Lene Tan, the head pastry chef at Tonka and Coda restaurants in Melbourne has been named the winner of the 2018 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship supported by Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  Following a four-month selection process, Kay-Lene was awarded the Scholarship on Monday 9 July at Food and Wine Victoria’s annual industry awards night.Now in its fifth year, the prestigious Scholarship will provide Kay-Lene with a once-in-a-career opportunity to work across three countries in internationally acclaimed hospitality businesses. Upon her return to Australia, Kay-Lene will continue to expand her industry experience over a year-long mentorship with a local industry leader.After an earlier career as a documentary filmmaker, Kay-lene followed her dreams and trained to become a chef at the relatively late age of 25. Born in Melbourne and then raised with her Peranakan family in Singapore, her dessert creations are inspired by a diverse range of food cultures. Before returning to Melbourne in 2013, Kay-lene worked for some of the world’s best chefs including Joël Robuchon and Andres Lara.Hostplus – the national superannuation fund for the hospitality, tourism, recreation and sport industries – has supported the Scholarship since it launched in 2014. Umberto Mecchi, chief marketing officer at Hostplus, says:
“Hostplus is extremely proud to support the hospitality industry and the Scholarship provides long-term opportunities for the rising stars across Australia.“Throughout the judging process, Kay-lene demonstrated a strong passion to drive and shape the future of the Australian hospitality industry.  Her technical skills as a pastry chef combined with her desire to become one of the industry’s next leaders made her stand out to the panel,” continued Mecchi.Open to employees aged 22 to 35, applications for the 2018 Scholarship represented a diverse and highly skilled cross section of the industry, from sommeliers and coffee professionals, to chefs and food truck vendors.The 2018 runner-up finalists were:
  • Jenni Bryant (VIC), general manager of Market Lane Coffee
  • Shelly McElroy (NSW), training and development advisor at Merivale

Shelly and Jenni will join Kay-Lene for an exclusive development day with Hostplus ambassador Shane Delia, from Maha and Biggie Smalls in Melbourne.

Previous winners of the Scholarship include Mark Bashinsky from Aria Brisbane, Damien Neylon from Brae, Birregurra, and Elika Rowell of Square One Roasters, Melbourne

The 2017 winner, Caitlyn Rees from Sydney’s Fred’s is due to start her Scholarship experience joining the teams at Eric Bordelet Ciderie in Normandy, Relae in Copenhagen, Blue Hill Stone Barns in New York

Food and Wine Victoria will now work with Kay-Lene to facilitate her global travel and work experience and partner her with a local mentor.

Scholarship Judging Panel
The judging panel for the applications featured leaders from across the hospitality industry:

  • Gail Donovan, restaurateur, Donovans, Melbourne;
  • Umberto Mecchi, chief marketing officer at Hostplus;
  • Jo-Ann Moody, gastronomy manager, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival;
  • Rafael Rashid, founder and owner of Beat Box Kitchen, Taco Truck, and All Day Donuts;
  • Matteo Pignatelli, owner and operator of Matteo’s restaurant in Melbourne; and
  • Fleur Studd, owner of Melbourne Coffee Merchants and co-founder of Market Lane Coffee.

Hostplus is the national superannuation fund for those that live and love Australian hospitality, tourism, recreation and sport. The Australian Hotels Association and United Voice jointly established the fund in 1987. Hostplus is one of the largest in the country with over one million members, 168,000 employers and $30 billion in funds under management.

Victoria’s hospitality industry
Victoria’s café, restaurant and catering sector generates more than $5 billion in turnover to the state economy every year and is the single largest employer across the tourism sector.   Furthermore, Victoria’s wine industry employs more than 13,000 people and contributes an estimated $7.6 billion to the state economy.

**Information & Images Courtesy of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival/Little Big Marketing