What are your three favourite Melbourne restaurants and why?
I think if I answered this question purely on flying-hours clocked at each venue, in recent years it'd be a pretty close tie between Napier Quarter, Marion and Embla. I’m pretty solidly in love with Città, the new Di Stasio adventure in the city. Dainty Sichuan, of course. If we stretched the definition of Melbourne to include places that are an easy hop on the train, Igni would have to be right up there. I'm pretty keen on the bar menu at Cutler & Co - I've been eating in Andrew McConnell's restaurants for something like 20 years now, starting at Dining Room 211 (or diningroom211, as we said back in the early noughties), then Mrs Jones, Three, One Two, Cumulus Inc, Cutler and Supernormal. I'm also a big fan of Attica. And Anchovy. And Carlton Wine Room. And Shandong Mama. And Shik. And Lune. And Lee Ho Fook. And how close is Patricia to the office, anyway? Wait, did you say three?
Which Melbourne restaurant that you have not eaten in are you most looking forward to trying?
Not a restaurant but, I’ve eaten Baker Bleu’s bread all over town and I very much looking forward to visiting the bakery very soon. Pretty keen to check out Jinda, too. And Colours Kitchen. And Denton Wine Bar. And Hotel Jesus. And...
What are you most enjoying about living in Melbourne?
As a former Sydney resident, getting a drink after midnight is still pretty exciting. Not having to explain what a long macchiato is. Running into Nick Cave, Helen Garner, Red Symons and Reko Rennie all at once on the 86 tram. So many things. I've wanted to live in Melbourne since I was 17 – I grew up in Canberra and went to uni in Bathurst – so this move has been a long time coming. I spent a bit of time in the deep burbs reviewing Vietnamese restaurants for The Age Good Food Guide back in the early 2000s, and I'm interested to see how those eating scenes have changed in the years since. Likewise, Melbourne's Middle Eastern dining is in a class all its own, so seeing what people like Joseph Abboud, Shane Delia, Coskun Uysal are up to is high on the list. Also being able to visit Gerald's Bar on Rathdowne Street without hopping on a plane is a pretty big plus.
Why Melbourne and why Food + Wine Victoria?
Food and restaurants have been the focus of my working life for 20 years now, and I also really enjoy the exchange of ideas, and connecting interesting people with interested audiences, so Melbourne and Food + Wine Victoria seemed like a perfect fit to take all that to the next level. Bringing the best of food and wine to Victoria and the best of Victorian food and wine to the world – that's a pretty excellent mission, and one I'm really enjoying being a part of.
Describe Melbourne in three words.
The Avalanches' birthplace. Dainty Sichuan HQ. The liveable city. Australia’s culinary powerhouse.
What’s your coffee order?
Flat white in the AM, espresso in the PM. Filter in between, cold brew on the side, and one of those arabica patches for the rest of the time.
Manhattan or Negroni?
How about we split the difference and have a Boulevardier?