Talking Japanese musubi breakfasts and Korean bulgogi sandwiches with Rising's co-artistic director, Gideon Obarzanek. 

Gideon Obarzanek is the co-artistic director at Rising. He’s also a director, choreographer, performing arts curator and founder of dance company Chunky Move, where he was CEO and artistic director until 2012. His works have been performed in festivals and theatres around the world including Edinburgh International, Southbank London and all major Australian performing arts festivals.

Obarzanek has curated the Rising program with Hannah Fox since the event’s inception in 2021. He lives in West Melbourne with his long-time partner and choreographer Lucy Guerin; here’s how he does it when he does it in Melbourne.

My defining food moment in Melbourne was late nights at Supper Inn in the late ’90s. Back then I shared the two top floors and rooftop of Curtin House on Swanston Street with a bunch of other artists and new Melbourne bar entrepreneurs. We all worked very long hours on our various projects – for me a new dance company, Chunky Move – and enjoyed many very late nights. Supper Inn was a regular after-midnight get-together, replete with a vast, plastic-sleeved Cantonese menu. I remember a few favourites, like steamed whole flounder with spring onion and ginger, roast duck or suckling pig, all washed down with plenty of Tsingtao and tea.

My local is 279. Literally around the corner, this Japanese specialist coffee, tea and musubi café is the height of perfection. Despite feeling like a slob in this sanctuary of style, I am a devotee to these polite masters of precision.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I have my first coffee. Okay, I know this is a cliché, but it’s true!

In the mornings you’ll find me at Bread Club in North Melbourne. In the line for my loaf of bread, I’m resolved not to purchase that extra saffron bun, rhubarb pastry or coffee. But when I get to the counter and see everything up close, like the rest of the neighbourhood addicts, I lose all restraint.

My favourite place to stock up on supplies is the Queen Victoria Market. I’ve had a long relationship with the market, dating back to my student sharehouse days. Back then we used to pool our money (very little) on a Sunday afternoon when the stall holders were yelling to unload their discounted perishable stock. One week we would feast on 10kg of avocados and two trays of mangoes and the next it could be half a sheep. Forty years later and after living in many other cities, I live with my partner Lucy less than a 10-minute walk away from the market and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The best new thing I’ve found is Sara Craft Ramen & Bar. This is ramen on another level – I’m talking yuzu duck, delicate clam shoyu broth, and kombu and soy umami vegetarian broth.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I go to Aru. For romance or a special dinner with old friends, this is the place. And during Rising, it’s just across the road from Night Trade, the festival’s “pop-up haunt for festival buzz and good times”.

When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to take them for breakfast at Ima Asa Yoru. Their Japanese breakfast, complete with hibachi-grilled fish and immaculately presented pickles, adds another dimension to the Brunswick ecosystem of flavour.

This year’s Rising program is unmissable because we have the best art, music and performance from here in Melbourne and around the world.

And you simply must get tickets to Food. ‘Dinner Theatre’ has weirdly held a long-time fascination for great contemporary theatre makers, and New York’s Geoff Sobelle is no exception. At this table, Geoff is your host, trickster waiter and creator of extraordinary worlds. Charting the consumption and production of food from the beginning of life on Earth to where we are now, this is one of the best pieces of physical theatre I have ever witnessed. But don’t come expecting to be fed – book a restaurant for after the show, or come to Night Trade for a Union Kiosk jaffle.

When I want to drink something Victorian, my first choice is the water (at least in West Melbourne). Honestly, after travelling so much for work, having a glass of the world’s best tap water is one of life’s great simple pleasures.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than the bulgogi and kimchi sub from Alien&Coco. I have a healthy appetite but putting away this big dripping deliciousness almost always requires going halves with a friend; it’s really a sandwich for two.

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be not needing to yell to be heard in a bar or restaurant. Acoustics are key and establishments that can’t get that right don’t understand the business.

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the gelato at Spring Street Grocer. If they ever stop serving the cardamom and roasted pistachio, my life will be seriously diminished.

Rising runs 1 to 16 June across Melbourne; check out the full program at