Since 2014, the annual Food for Thought charity dinners have founded a unique collaboration of emerging and talented hospitality professionals to create exceptional dinners for a higher cause. The core theme to Food for Thought is encouraging conversation around the dinner table or through hospitality to ease the weight of the stigma around mental health.
Founder and chef Mal Meiers said the dinners were sparked his own experience.
"In hospitality we witness the effects long hours, high-pressure work environments and an entrenched 'just deal with it' attitude can have, making those suffering from anxiety and depression fearful of speaking out," Meiers says.
Now the event is coming to Canberra with five of Canberra's top chefs staging a five-course degustation dinner at Sage Dining Rooms on August 26.
Executive chef at Akiba, Sage and Kokomo's, Johnon MacDonald knew Meiers from their time in Melbourne and caught up at a recent White Jacket Effect event in Sydney. These events, founded by chef Amber Kaba, who, incidentally, MacDonald went to TAFE with 18 years ago, also help to raise awareness of mental health issues in the hospitality industry.
"Mal and I got to talking about bringing one of the Food for Thought dinners to Canberra and we worked it out pretty quickly," MacDonald says.
"It's going to be great to get a few friends together and cook and have some fun and highlight such a great cause.
"I feel like we're really starting to build a community of chefs here in Canberra who are looking out for each other and others in the industry."
Those cooking on the night include Thomas Heinrich from Sage Dining Rooms, Dave Young from Temporada, Mal Hanslow from Pilot, Sung Son from Terra, MacDonald and Meiers.
"There'll be a selection of dishes from each chef, cooking what they like, there's going to be a variety of vegetarian, meat, seafood, showcasing what the chef loves about food," MacDonald says.
"Sung from Terra is doing an eight-hour smoked brisket, Thomas from Sage is doing a mushroom agnolotti with a shitake broth and black pepper oil, Mal from Pilot is doing a Murray cod, Mal Meiers a salmon sashimi dish to start and Dave's doing a white chocolate dessert.
"It's going to be great and it's for a great cause."
Raising funds for RUOK? and Lifeline, tickets are $130pp (plus booking fee) which includes five courses with matched wines. From eventbrite.com
Sarah McDougall from Lake George Winery is off to New York after being named as a finalist in the Australian Women in Wine Awards for 2019. She was named as one of three owner/operators of the year. The Australian Women in Wine Awards, which are owned and operated by The Fabulous Ladies' Wine Society, celebrate and reward the work of women in the Australian wine community, and community leaders who champion equality and fairness for all sexes in the workplace. They are the only awards program for women in wine in the world. The winners will be announced on September 17 at a ceremony in New York.
XO + Morks
Another collaboration worth putting in your diary is a takeover of the respective kitchens of XO and Morks by the opposite team. It appears there was already a private arrangement in place, each kitchen informally collaborating on an annual staffies dinner that they alternate; each hosting the others teams for an end of service meal. Now the public can join in the fun with dinners at XO on Monday September 16 and then at Morks on Tuesday September 17. Both nights will offer the same collaborative food and drink menu, they'll be doing a 6pm and 8.30pm sitting. It will be a full collaboration from food to beverages and even music. $88pp for the set menu, snacks plus five courses, drinks by the glass. Bookings via either restaurant.
Scott Wasley, founder of The Spanish Acquisition, is an authority on Spanish wine imports to Australia. He'll be hosting a masterclass at Plonk, at the Fyshwick Markets on August 22.
You will be tasting eight different Tempranillos, while snacking on locally sourced nibbles and enjoying his expert guidance through the world of Tempranillo.
Limited tickets are available for $25pp instore or at plonk.net.au
Make a splash
Amici, on Northbourne Avenue, is one of Canberra's freshest new deli, wine and cocktail bars, a very cool little spot. The team is kicking off Splash, a wine series where you can meet your favourite wine's maker and simply taste test a few drops before you take them home. Bill Crowe from Crowe Wines, a family-owned winery that produces small-batch wines from the Canberra and Gundagai region, is the first cab off the rank. The tasting selection includes a 2019 riesling, 2019 gruner veltliner, 2018 sangiovese, 2018 vino rosso and a 2017 shiraz. Amici will also be running a special menu all evening with Crowe Wines flights and food pairings. August 22, from 5pm, free entry.