My earliest memory of food is eating smoked oysters from the tin, aged three, as my mother prepared savouries for the dart players every second Tuesday evening in the family hotel.
My earliest food memory is of helping my grandma make marshmallows, while we waited for my grandpa to come home from the abattoirs with whatever cuts of meat he felt we should all eat that day. My love of wine came from my mother. When I was three, the only way she could keep me quiet was to offer me a thimble of it and let me sit with her and her girlfriends as they caught up.
When I was five, my grandfather taught me to eat oysters and snails straight from the shell and would take me on trips to Flinders to pick up fresh local crayfish and mussels. I've loved food ever since - those days showed me that food is more than a necessity.
Quality produce, artful cooking and attentive hospitality have been the cornerstone of many great gatherings with family and friends over the years and around the globe within our home. Six Festivals in and I still take great pride and joy in being part of such a dynamic team that continues to create superlative eating and drinking experiences for all to enjoy.
Before joining the Festival team, I spent 10 awesome years working in some of the world’s greatest restaurants. What I love about this industry is the fast pace of change and constant flow of new ventures. You will often find me (with a delighted smile on my face) checking out the latest openings of restaurants, bars, cafes and food trucks as they spring to life, lighting up our city.
Over the past five years you may have spotted me in North East Victoria, tasting vintages and celebrating the bountiful supply of regional produce in this incredible food and wine destination. More recently, I have been trekking South America delighting in Brazil’s churrascaria, Argentina’s vino and the frutas del mar from Chile and Peru’s South Pacific ocean. I return to Melbourne – the ultimate gourmand’s city – and look forward to my time at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival – celebrating our city’s culture of restaurants, bars, cafes and produce.
I had no choice in the matter. My Ukrainian heritage has made me obsessed with food. Whether it was contesting four brothers in the annual verenyky (stuffed dumplings) eating competition or searching for the perfect wine to match pickled herrings, the kitchen has always been central to my family. Now I fall asleep most nights planning the following day’s menu, which always starts with a double ristretto.
A life-long food lover, above average home cook and dubious baker. Food to me is about culture, history and a life well lived. When I’m not eating, drinking, cooking or planning events and festivals, much loved distractions other include travel, family, music, film, podcasts and tucking into a lazy lunch and glass of pinot with friends.
More than 10 years working in the restaurant industry has left me with a love of fresh food. In summer, ripe heirloom tomatoes and sea salt with lashings of extra virgin olive oil is my go-to dish. In winter, it’s a slow braise or handmade pasta tossed with clams, garlic, white wine and chilli. An Italophile at heart, I believe the secret ingredient to a memorable meal is the company you share it with.
I’ve come a long way since battling my father over the dinner table to finish my greens… The Man Who Ate Everything is now my life’s manual. Apart from the man part.