What Is It?

A dizzying number of gastronomical events make up the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, which launched in 1993 with a simple program of just 12 events. Today, more than 200 tastings and talks fill the city’s labyrinthine network of restaurants, rooftops, markets, and laneways, with many more spilling over into Victoria. The combination of diverse programming and impressive talent has helped the festival snag local and international tourism awards for several years.

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Start each morning at the pop-up artisan bakery in the city centre. Here, international baking superstars like Justin Gellatly (from London’s Bread Ahead bakery) and Eric Kayser (from Paris’s Maison Kayser) prepared baked loaves and delicate goodies, each with a different daily menu in 2015. Bakers both novice and advanced can roll up their sleeves and get messy with flour in various workshops, and anyone with an appetite and an interest can grab a bite to eat.

Other festival highlights included a pop-up artisan bakery in the city centre, a massive table designed to feed 1,500 hungry festivalgoers as part of the World’s Longest Lunch, a low-and-slow barbecue opening party, and a global discussion on the future of food. While a handful of events are free, most tickets will range from $15 to upwards of $150. A portion of ticket proceeds will support Diabetes Australia—Victoria, the official charity partner of the festival.

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Where Is It?

As the name suggests, Melbourne is at the beating heart of this sprawling festival. And everything from art galleries to open-air markets to museums becomes a venue for exploring the many dimensions of food and drink. But those willing to venture beyond the city centre will find even more events worth savoring, like vineyard tours in Avenel, beer and bread workshops in Trentham, sausage demonstrations in Bonegilla, and twilight suppers under the stars in Moonambel.

Who’s Performing?

It's a little early for 2016 details to be released, but in 2015 we saw Dan Barber, world-renowned chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, headline a sold-out talk on the future of sustainable food in his first Australian appearance. Wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. sparked a controversial festival masterclass on whether obscurity is now trumping quality in the wine world. And notable chefs Sam Ward, Jamie Bissonnette, Janice Wong, and Ruth Rogers are among those who presented one-time-only culinary experiences for festivalgoers. Kids with discerning palates needn’t feel left out: lions headlined a lunch at Melbourne Zoo, teddy bears got major billing for a picnic at the Karralyka Gardens, and youth donned aprons during cooking workshops at Rivers Lifestyle Centre.

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Photographed by Ben King