[White text on a black screen reads Natalie O’Brien, CEO, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. In the right hand corner, the logo for Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria appears.
A woman sits in a courtyard with plants in the background.]
Natalie O’Brien: I grew up in a hotel family. Four generations of working hotels. So I guess the whole idea of being involved as a child in terms of hospitality and being around people and food is something that’s been in my blood. My mum was a home economist, so cooking at home was almost a daily ritual of being involved in that. And I worked in the events industry so when a job came up to work at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, it felt like a wonderful match of what was in my blood and the experience that I’d already had to date.
[On a long table where people are eating, a small branding flag reading Melbourne Food & Wine Festival stands in a glass.
Outside at night, people raise their mugs to each other across a long candlelit table.
A young man holds out food to a young woman, who eats it.]
Natalie: This year we did celebrate the 20th anniversary of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and we tried to, in the 20th year, celebrate the best of what was originally part of the festival.
[In a park, two grinning men stand with their arms over each other’s shoulders.
Two men clasp hands joyously.
Near a river, people eat at a very long table that stretches through a park.
At the Royal Exhibition Building, people eat at long rows of tables.]
Natalie: So that included our Legends celebration, our Longest Lunches, our Master Class series. But we also tried to explore new territories, and part of that was about sustainability around food, it was around food security. It was emerging more into the wonderful suburbs of Melbourne and the incredible foods seen in Melbourne suburbs that’s accessible to people. And so the 20th was a combination of the best of what we’ve been producing for many years, but also emerging into new areas of food and cuisine.
[Outdoors, visible over a plantation of fresh basil, a shipping crate bears a sign reading Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Joost.
Time-lapse footage shows people moving through a riverside site and through a crowded restaurant.]
Natalie: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival we really say is a celebration of the best of Victoria, but also in addition, it’s about the celebration of what’s happening around the world and global trends. And during the time of the festival, we have seen many incredible chefs and winemakers travel from around the world. And we talk about the top 50 restaurants in the world, and we’ve seen 22 of those top chefs come to Melbourne to celebrate with us, and normally those chefs are paired up with a Melbourne chef and they work together with that Melbourne chef in their kitchen …
[Uniformed staff file past a long table in a park.
A man speaks before an audience seated at tables.
In the evening, a man sets up an outdoor table.
In a kitchen, a chef carefully dribbles sauce on a plate.
Plates of food are arranged on a stand.]
Natalie: … and come together and collaborate on a menu which is a really special component of the festival. The realm of celebrity chefs has been a positive thing in a sense because, I think, it’s bringing food and wine to a much bigger audience and also a much younger audience in some instances. You know, we have children as young as six and seven and eight and nine sending in suggestions of what they’d like to see for the festival. So I think that that’s the positive aspect of celebrity chef. There’s obviously also a downside in that the industry that we work with is an industry of huge integrity, huge passion and hard work, and there can be an element of ... Often celebrity actually overlooks the fact that the industry is a lot harder and has far more integrity than that.
[In a crowded room, a man sniffs wine from a glass, then drinks.
People sitting in a park smile.
On a beach at night, people eat at a table.
Near a fire, meat hangs in a metal frame.]
Natalie: But on the whole, I think it does make food and wine more accessible to a bigger amount of people, and that can only be positive. I think one of the really exciting things that’s happened in Victoria is the celebration of seasonal and regional, and regional Victoria. And I think there’s a far greater emphasis on the produce that’s available and Victoria being an incredible food bowl and food state. That’s a really exciting thing. So as well as celebrating and embracing that as part of the program, it’s very much about heading to the regions, whether that’s north, south, east, west and actually experiencing for yourself on location with the winemaker, with the producer, with the farmer. And about 30% of our program now is actually based in regional Victoria.
[A table set with wine glasses offers a view of the Yarra River and the Melbourne skyline.
A man holds a wine glass.
Meat cooks on a grill.]
Natalie: I think the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival really needs to be lots of things to lots of people, so we need to, at one end, have free programming that enables people to experience. We also need to talk about the cerebral and the really important issues in terms of food, whether that’s sustainability, seasonality, food security. They’re really important issues in terms of the industry. We also have events that are quite high-end and much more fine dining and in some ways much ... possibly more expensive. And so it is important to be, when you’re a Food & Wine, is to offer things to different parts of the audience. More recently we’ve started developing a program for young children, given the growing interest of young children. We worked with Stephanie Alexander and the Kitchen Garden Foundation. Not only children understanding about cooking, but about growing food and harvesting food, preparing the food, cooking the food and then enjoying and eating the food around the table as well. So I think in a lot of ways that the programming does need to reflect the different audiences that are interested in food and wine.
[White credits on a black screen.
Senior producer: Andrew Barrie, Lightwell
Production assistant: Fiona McCallum, Lightwell
Editor: Steve McCallum
Direction and camera assistance: Antuong Nguyen
Cinematographer: Gus Kemp
Interviewer: Tracey Judd Iva (Gusto! exhibition curator)
Exhibition manager: Edwina Bartlem
Exhibition coordinator: Eleanor Adams
Natalie O’Brien interviewed at Prahran Market
Concepts and research: Robert Heather, Tracey Judd Iva, Ann Carew, Edwina Bartlem, Anna Corkhill
Additional footage: Thanks to Melbourne Food & Wine for providing promotional and documentation footage from the 20th Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, 2012.]
[The logo for Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria appears above the words A State Library of Victoria exhibition, 3 August 2012 – 28 April 2013. slv.vic.gov.au/gusto.
The logos of the State Library of Victoria and State Government of Victoria appear underneath.]
[Three lines of logos appear on a screen.
Sponsored by: City of Melbourne, William Angliss Institute.
Supported by: Markets of Melbourne.
Program partners: Melbourne Food & Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, The Little Veggie Patch Company and The Sebel Heritage, Yarra Valley.]