Each month, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival hosts a free virtual forum featuring topics and speakers relevant to the hospitality industry in Victoria.

Beginning in May 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, the forums have so far dealt with the most pressing issues for hospitality businesses right now including renegotiating leases, boosting cashflow and reopening with restrictions. As our industry looks ahead to recovery, we’ll be planning discussions that reflect this.

To hear about future forums, make sure you’ve signed up to our Industry News.

Want to check out some resources for your venue, or for the venue you'd like to open? Take a look at these pieces on venue marketingservice modelsoutdoor diningincreasing spend and finding staff from Mr Yum.

Industry Forum #13 -The Future of Non-Alcoholic drinks

As recently as 10 years ago, if you asked for a non-alcoholic drink in even the best venues in Australia, chances are someone would pour you a Coke or offer to mix you up a nice, fruity mocktail. Today bars and restaurants take pride in crafting their low- and no-alcohol offerings, while bottle-shops now carry a bold new range of spirits, beer, wine and other beverages that brim with complex, adult flavour, without the booze.

Our panellists: 

  • Katie Shiff, general manager, NON Australia, the Victorian leading luxe non-alcoholic drinks producer
  • Anthony Hammond, publican, The Victoria Hotel/Builders Arms Hotel, and the organiser of the Pub With No Booze event at MFWF’s Winter Edition
  • Sarah Tencer, marketing manager, brand & discovery, Dan Murphy's
  • Moderated by Daisy Slade, industry lead (MFWF)
Industry Forum #13 - The Future of Non-Alcoholic drinks

Industry Forum #12 -Solving the Hospitality Staffing Crisis

Can it be solved any time soon? What’s being done to help the situation today? And what changes need to be made to address the problem in the longer term?

We bring together three speakers from different aspects of the hospitality labour equation to share their knowledge and outline what happens next, and lay out what businesses and workers can do right now to get by.

Our panellists: 

  • Maria Jockel, immigration law specialist, legal principal and national leader of BDO Migration Services
  • Dave Mackintosh, restaurateur, Ides, SPQR Pizzeria, Lee Ho Fook and Pope Joan
  • Wes Lambert, CEO, Restaurant and Catering Association
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse, creative director (MFWF)
Industry Forum #11 - Why Design Matters

Industry Forum #11 - Why design matters

We explore 'Why Design Matters' and how hospitality can do more with it – and better. How can design choices, from things as small as takeaway containers to as large as building a whole restaurant, affect the outcomes for your business? And how can these same choices improve our communities?

We talk to three people from different parts of the architecture and design conversation about the big challenges and the easy wins in the food and drink space.

Our panellists: 

  • Ben Shewry, chef/restaurateur, Attica
  • Jeremy McLeod, co-founder & design director, Breathe Architecture
  • Iva Foschia, director, IF Architecture
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse, creative director (MFWF)
Industry Forum #11 - Why Design Matters

Industry Forum #10 - Does marketing for restaurants work?

Does marketing for restaurants work? Is it money well spent for hospitality right now? How do you spend it and where?

Our panel of experts looks at everything from how to get started to how to fine-tune your current approach to 2021 conditions.

  • Marianne Mewett, Head of Digital at Australian Venue Co
  • Kim Teo, Mr Yum CEO
  • Angelo Labrador, co-founder, Scoopy Milk Bar
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse (MFWF)
Industry Forum #10 - Does marketing for restaurants work?

Industry Forum #9 - How do you close a restaurant?

With JobKeeper ending, rent reductions gone and with mortgages repayments returning, many restaurant, café and bar owners are asking themselves: is this it? Melbourne, having been unable to open to dine-in trade for most of the last year, has been hit hardest of all. How do you know when to hold and when to fold?

And if you do close, how do you do it in a way that’s best for your staff, your suppliers and for yourself? Our panel has been there, and come out the other side. Join us to hear the stories of three operators who have made the decision to close, and what they did next.

  • Iain Ling, restaurateur and publican, Super Ling / The Hotel Lincoln
  • Brigitte Hafner, chef and owner, Gertrude Street Enoteca / Tedesca
  • Teage Ezard, chef and owner, Ezard / Gingerboy / Gingergirl
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse, (MFWF)
Industry Forum #9 - How do you close a restaurant?

Industry Forum #8 - Restaurants now: How to open in 2021

Join three Victorian restaurateurs as they share their insights on what it’s like to open in regional Victoria, in the CBD and in the suburbs; what it’s like to open as a group, what it’s like as a seasoned operator, and what it’s like to open for the first time – all in the age of coronavirus. We’ll be discussing the hows and whys, the pitfalls to dodge and the opportunities to seize in the new hospitality landscape.

  • Kate Bartholomew, restaurateur, Coda Lorne
  • Scott Pickett, chef/restaurateur, Chancery Lane
  • Florian Ribul, chef/restaurateur, Vex
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse (MFWF)
Industry Forum #8 - Restaurants now: How to open in 2021

Industry Forum #7 - Business as Unusual 

Melbourne hospitality has endured two lockdowns, yet even in the face of adversity new businesses are emerging from both first-time and established players.

Listen to our panel as they examine the challenges to come, the opportunities in the turmoil, and whether the game has changed for good.

  • Audrey Allard (Holy Sugar)
  •  Andrew McConnell (Trader House Restaurants)
  • Shane Delia (Providoor)
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse (MFWF)
Business as Unusual Industry Forum

Industry Forum #6 - The View from Abroad

As we look to rebuild our beloved hospitality industry, what’s the mood like abroad and what can we learn from other cities across the globe? We bring together three renowned chef-restaurateurs from around the world to get their perspective on operating through lockdown and ongoing restrictions and their thoughts on what lies ahead for dining in our global community.

Listen to our panel as they talk about the view from abroad

  • Robert Marchetti, co-founder, Gran Tivoli and Peppi’s Cellar, New York City, creative director, QT Hotels
  • May Chow, chef and owner, Little Bao and Happy Paradise, Hong Kong
  • Josh Emett, co-founder, Rata, Queenstown, chef and owner, The Oyster Inn and Onslow, Auckland
  • Moderated by Anthea Loucas Bosha, CEO, MFWF
The View from Abroad

Industry Forum #5 - Saving the Bars of Melbourne

In a profoundly challenging year for hospitality across the board, Melbourne’s bars are among the hardest hit businesses in the trade. What’s going to happen to these defining parts of the city’s culture and night economy? How will they survive?

Join our panel as they talk about saving the bars of Melbourne 

  • Zara Madrusan, co-owner, Made in the Shade
  • Tash Conte, owner, Black Pearl
  • Michael Bascetta, co-owner, Bar Liberty and Capitano, CEO and co-founder, Worksmith
  • Moderated by Pat Nourse, creative director, MFWF
Saving the bars of Melbourne Zoom Link

Industry Forum #4 - JobKeeper 2.0 Explained

Need to make sense of JobKeeper? What should you have in place right now to get ahead of the changes coming in September?

Our fourth MFWF industry forum examines phase two of the Federal Government’s wage subsidy package with specific reference to how it affects hospitality businesses and workers with the help of On Tap Hospitality, accounting and operational management specialists.

JobKeeper 2.0 Explained

Industry Forum #3 - Recovery in the Regions

A panel of leaders in Victoria's regional tourism and hospitality industries discuss the issues experienced by businesses outside Melbourne due to restrictions on travel, trade and movement in response to the pandemic.


  • Felicia Mariani (Victorian Tourism Industry Council)
  • Andrew Ryan (Mitchelton Wines)
  • Alla Wolf-Tasker (Lake House)
  • Pat Nourse (host)
recovery in the regions WEB 1348px x 532px

Industry Forum #2 - Operating in the new normal

Join our panel as they discuss how to transition into reopening your business post-lockdown.

  • Justin Hemmes, CEO, Merivale
  • Wes Lambert, CEO, Restaurant and Catering Association
  • Jerry Mai, restaurateur/chef, Bia Hoi, Annam and Pho Nom
  • Anthea Loucas Bosha, CEO, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (host)
Operating in the new normal

Industry Forum #1 - Roadmaps to Recovery 

Join our panel as they discuss how to negotiate the best position for your business in recovery.

  • Lisa Livis, State General Manager SME Banking, Westpac and Bank of Melbourne
  • Chris Lucas, CEO and founder, Lucas Restaurants
  • Andrew Kaspen, Partner, Pointon Partners Lawyers
  • Pat Nourse, Creative Director, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (host)
Roadmaps to Recovery Website Homepage 1348px x 532px