Out today: Festival preview in The Age, epicure

To celebrate today’s announcement of the chefs and wine experts in our 2013 Gastronomy Program, The Age  epicure is featuring a special eight-page preview on what’s hot in the program including chef and presenter interviews and profiles and an exploration into our 2013 theme: EARTH.

Make sure you pick up your copy today and get ready to circle your favourites before tickets go on sale 24 October.

Here we chat to Sarina Lewis, the food writer behind the Festival preview, about the Gastronomy Program including her top tips for the line-up in 2013.

Which three MasterClass presenters are you most excited to see at the Festival and why?

Virgilio Martinez and his take on native Peruvian cuisine (the way he speaks of having both the Andes and the Amazon as his herb garden is intriguing); Magnus Nilsson and his philosophy on "real food" - there has to be such a powerful sense of belief in his approach in order to sustain a culinary existence at the frozen northern tip of the world; Enrique Olvera and his efforts to shine light on traditional Mexican produce - I love the idea that he let go of a high profile career as a TV chef to focus on an approach to food that he believes will give something back to Mexico.

You spoke to a number of the MasterClass presenters for your articles in the Festival preview; are there any interesting anecdotes that didn’t make it to print?

I love that Michael Stadtländer - who is currently central to a huge protest against creation of a mega quarry near Toronto – and sees the irony in the mining executives who seek the cache of eating in his 12-seat restaurant. It’s a place that is built around an idea that is diametrically opposed to the values that are at the foundations of these companies.

Oh, and loved the notion that Hawaiian chef Ed Kenney took the meat pie back to Honolulu after a trip to New Zealand. He is equally as chuffed to be able to come to Melbourne and share the idea of the Hawaiian imu (similar in cooking style to a New Zealand hangi) with Australians.                       

Why do you think the Festival’s earth theme is so relevant to the food and wine world right now?

There has been a lot of movement in the past few years around knowing your food provenance. About supporting a sustainable and local approach to food. At the same time there has been a parallel concentration on the state of our planet and what this means for our quality of life and for our survival.

The earth theme for the Festival taps in to the current moment, where these two passages of thought are colliding to form a food concern that is at once micro and macro: by this I mean, the realisation that we must all focus on our own small segment of the planet and our consumption in order that we can shift the future direction of humanity.

These seem like very big ideas - grand statements - but certainly the chefs, farmers and advocates in this space are very open about the need to be unashamed in embracing this philosophy in all its fullness.

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