EVENT || Melbourne Salami Festa

When the Melbourne Salami Festa first kicked off in a dingy little old-man club in Thornbury back in 2012, no-one had a clue about the huge meaty beast that was about to be unleashed. I wrote about it for Broadsheet, thinking it might attract a couple of hundred locals. When I rocked up on game day I was forced to join a queue of hundreds snaking down High Street and reality kicked in. Melbourne people are really into salami.

Four years, thousands of punters, and many kilos of pork later, the festa is bigger and better than the organisers could ever have dreamed. It's now a two-day affair and this year attracted over 100 entrants. But more importantly (for me at least), this year I was invited to join the official panel of salami judges. Talk about #careergoals. Oh yes!!

If you love a sausage and you're kicking 'round this weekend then head down to the Northcote Town Hall. There's always plenty to eat and drink (hot porchetta rolls and Aperol spritz from Ladro always gets my vote), plus there's live music, demonstrations and of course, A LOT of salami to taste. I'll be there, slowly lapsing into a meat coma as the day wears on (I have more than 100 salamis to judge, people. SERIOUSLY!). Come say hey.

PS: me and Festa co-founder an organiser, Linda Catalano went on 774 ABC Melbourne to talk about cured meats (and drop a few salami puns) with host, Waleed Aly.




Northcote Town Hall

8-9 October, 2016




TRAVEL FEATURE || Geelong and the Bellarine

I recently hit the road with my photographer pal/colleague/fave road-tripper Peter Tarasiuk and headed to Geelong. In a short space of time we managed to eat a lot of food, drink a lot of wine, pen a catchy new theme song for the bayside town, and jam in a heap of stuff  - both in G-Town and the nearby Bellarine Peninsula. 

Terindah Estate, Bellarine Peninsula. IMAGE: Peter Tarasiuk

Terindah Estate, Bellarine Peninsula. IMAGE: Peter Tarasiuk

As we ticked off the seemingly countless items on our over-stuffed itin, it soon became clear that 'Gee-troit City' is very much having 'a moment'. Stuff is happening. Stuff is cool.

A highlight of the trip was dinner at fine diner, Igni. In the time that's passed since our visit, talented chef-owner Aaron Turner (ex-Loam) has taken out awards left, right and centre for his innovative, local produce-driven fare.

IMAGE: Geelong Advertiser

IMAGE: Geelong Advertiser

The restaurant - plonked unceremoniously down a confusingly dingy but ultimately rewarding back street - now joins the ranks of Australia's top regional restaurants as a true 'destination dining' icon; and for good reason (seriously, check this out..).

Want to know what's up in G- town? Grab a copy of the latest issue of Australian Traveller mag or CLICK HERE to read my story.  


Peter and I were guests of Geelong Bellarine Tourism. Big thanks to Narelle Needham for organising our visit. 


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FEATURE || Winter Bathing Rituals

The Japanese do it, Nordics and Hungarians do it, the ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Ottomans all did it, too. But in Australia we’ve been a little slower to catch on to the idea of warm bathing for the pleasure of it. 

TOP: Peninsula Hot Springs. IMAGE: supplied.   BOTTOM: Onsen Ma, Melbourne. IMAGE: Broadsheet

TOP: Peninsula Hot Springs. IMAGE: supplied. 

BOTTOM: Onsen Ma, Melbourne. IMAGE: Broadsheet

I'm someone who gets reeeeeally cold in winter, and to have access to a hot bath on the regular is a non-negotiable - even outside of winter. 

When I came back home from back-to-back tropical winter holidays last winter, it got me thinking. So I did some research... and pitched a story. 

The result? I tracked down the best places in Melbourne (or just outside town) dedicated to the art of stripping off and thawing out.

TOP:  Wellness Suite at Isika, Crown Metropol. IMAGE: supplied    BOTTOM:  Chuan Spa at The Langham. IMAGE: supplied

TOP: Wellness Suite at Isika, Crown Metropol. IMAGE: supplied

BOTTOM: Chuan Spa at The Langham. IMAGE: supplied

FEATURE || Thornbury for The Age Good Food Guide

So conflicted! I love love love Thornbury and want to sing its praises, yet as a local I kinda wanna keep it on the DL so that it doesn't get overrun by day-trippers and gentrifiers. I recently did a neighbourhood round up for this year's Age Good Food Guide (which is due for release September 13). Here's a little snippet..

IMAGE: supplied by Chato.

IMAGE: supplied by Chato.

"Remember when Thornbury was the fringe and a suburb you could afford? Well, congratulations early adopters. Gentrification got here faster than anyone expected. Thornbury's recent revival has helped transform the once-drab High Street into one of the city's longest – and most buzzy – culinary thoroughfares. From specialty butchers and organic grocers, to aperitivo bars and craft brewers, it's the place to be".

IMAGE: supplied by Welcome to Thornbury

IMAGE: supplied by Welcome to Thornbury

For all those who can't wait for the guide to come out, you can take a sneaky peek at my Thornbury piece here..



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TRAVEL FEATURE || Tasmania's Satellite Island

Sometimes in my job I really have to pinch myself. Sure, I get meet lots of cool people and go to  lots of cool places, but sometimes you just stop and say "Wow. this is ridiculous". A recent trip to a private island off the coast of southern Tasmania was one such experience.

Never heard of Satellite Island? That’s probably because those who have want to keep it that way.

Located in a sheltered pocket of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, the rugged 34-hectare landmass can only be reached by private boat from nearby Bruny Island. Once you’re there, it’s just you, the house, a few wild deer and a whole lot of nature. There are no roads, no shops, no other guests, not even wi-fi – which is how visitors like it.

I recently spent a weekend on the island for Broadsheet. You can read my story HERE.

IMAGES: Peter Tarasiuk

IMAGES: Peter Tarasiuk

Huge thank you to Kate at Satellite Island and Sherene at Tourism Tasmania for making our trip possible.


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COMMUNITY || Dine With Heart Month

St Kilda's Sacred Heart Mission is a true icon. It's a place that recognises the diversity of the local community; supporting and welcoming all by doing humble but essential work that has the power to change the lives of Melbourne's most vulnerable people.

IMAGE: Sacred Heart Mission

IMAGE: Sacred Heart Mission

Over the past couple of years I've been really honoured to support Sacred Heart as a committee member for their annual Dine with Heart (DWH) fundraising campaign. In the lead up this year I got a chance to spruik the story behind my work with the Sacred Heart as a guest on Jon Faine's Conversation Hour (on 774 ABC Radio), on Nerida Conway's What's Cooking (on NTS) and in the St Kilda News (you can read my story HERE).

In the ABC Radio studios with fellow guests Greg Champion, chef Chris Watson and singer-songwriter Angie Hart.

In the ABC Radio studios with fellow guests Greg Champion, chef Chris Watson and singer-songwriter Angie Hart.

This year, the month-long campaign raised a whopping $115,000; essential funds for the Mission’s Dining Hall, which provides hot, free and nutritious breakfasts and lunches for up to 400 people in need every day of the year.  

The campaign highlight was the fancy gala fundraising dinner held on the stage of St Kilda’s Palais Theatre, catered by some of Melbourne’s leading chefs as well as a month-long fundraising initiative hosted by some 63 restaurants across Melbourne.

The funds raised will enable the Mission to provide 28,750 meals to people in Melbourne experiencing homelessness, social isolation and disadvantage.

Want to know more about Sacred Heart Mission or get involved as a volunteer?




JUST OPEN || Hellenic Hotel, Williamstown

It was a long time coming (try two years over deadline), but for Western suburbs locals, the wait has been worth it. George Calombaris' newest venue, Hellenic Hotel in bayside Williamstown opened in mid-June and combines the same Hellenic model of mod-Greek fare and breezy upbeat vibes - but this time they come with old school pub values.

IMAGE: supplied

IMAGE: supplied

As with Calombaris' other Hellenic venues, the food here is heartily generous, super delicious and exceptional value. Try the $49 7-course 'Feed Me' sharing menu, it's excellent. My big tip? Lay off the bread and save yourself for the insanely good rotisserie chicken. For $69 pp you can bump it up to 12 courses and score the lamb shoulder. OH MY GAWD, THE LAMB SHOULDER.

I visited Hellenic Hotel for Good Food. READ MORE HERE.

IMAGE: supplied

IMAGE: supplied



28 Ferguson St, Williamstown

03 9393 1000

Open daily noon-10.30pm



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JUST OPEN || Son of an Elk, Geelong

No, it's not a dirty insult slung between macho Canadian ice hockey players. Son of an Elk is the name of Geelong's newest and cutest daytime cafe. Open since mid-­May, it's venue number two for the team behind brunch­tastic Bellarine favourite, Elk Horn Roadhouse (hence the elk).

IMAGE: supplied

IMAGE: supplied

It's a pretty awesome addition to G-Town's cafe scene, especially those working at or visiting the local hospital across the street.

I wrote about it for Good Food. READ MORE HERE.

IMAGE: supplied

IMAGE: supplied



277-­279 Ryrie Street, Geelong

03 5221 1575

Open Mon-­Fri 7am­-4pm.


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TRAVEL FEATURE || High Country Horse Riding for Australian Traveller

As a child, I was obsessed with riding horses and would beg my dad to drive me out to Johnny Lee's pony farm in Bushfield (not far from where I grew up in Warrnambool) every chance I got. Dad had a connection with horses too, so I think he was happy to let me go.

IMAGE: Peter Tarasiuk 

IMAGE: Peter Tarasiuk 

Looking back, the thing I loved the most was the exhilarating sense of freedom I felt. As a kid, there's only so much independence you can claim for yourself, but getting onto the back of a horse and being allowed to run, jump and explore bush and hills and creeks on your own was just a massively thrilling adventure.

When my editor at Australian Traveller recently emailed to ask me if I was into horses, I was like "Are you kidding me??". A few weeks later, I gathered up my trusty photographer pal, Pete Tarasiuk and we hit the road for a 3-day adventure up to the Victorian High Country.

IMAGE: Australian Traveller

IMAGE: Australian Traveller

We travelled thanks to Tourism North East and Bogong Horseback Adventures.

The story was published in the current issue of Australian Traveller magazine, which is on sale in all good newsagents and major supermarkets now.  






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INTERVIEW || Danny Bowien

I visited Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese Food back in 2014, while on assignment in San Francisco for SBS Feast Magazine. We were blown away by the no-rules inventiveness of his approach to cooking - full of aggressive, fun, flavour explosions - as well as the skanky/punky DIY feel of the place. They were belting out The Cramps in the dining room for chrissakes

Danny wasn't there when we visited MCF SFO (he's usually based at MCF in NYC) so needless to say, I was pretty stoked to get the chance to chat him for Broadsheet ahead of his MFWF appearances recently (and meet him IRL at one of the dinners).

We talked about Oklahoma, Anthony Bourdain and Danny's new book, The Mission Chinese Cook Book (part cook book, part memoir) which he wrote alongside his good buddy, Lucky Peach editor Chris Ying.

JUST OPEN || Sartoria, Preston

Preston has been on the cusp of foodie cool for a while now - helped along by solid neighbourhood players like Stray Neighbour, UAEBoundary Espresso and the meat-tastic Dexter. 

On her trips back to Aus from her adopted home in New York City, Preston-born Adriana Agricola noticed the culinary shift and eventually made good on her father Joseph's suggestion to create a business out of the family's history-filled old Plenty Road commercial property.

IMAGE: Sartoria

IMAGE: Sartoria

From the mid 60s through until the 1980s, the space was home to Joseph and Carmela Agricola's commercial dressmaking workshop, and has now found new life as a stylish daytime cafe where, in true New York style, anytime is a good time to drink cocktails. 

I wrote about recently it for Good Food.





115 Plenty Road, Preston

(03) 9480 5664


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REVIEW || Saint Urban, Richmond

The summer issue of Australian Traveller magazine saw the first of what will likely be a regular contribution of Melbourne restaurant reviews by yours truly.

Interior at Saint Urban. IMAGE: supplied

Interior at Saint Urban. IMAGE: supplied

For my debut effort I paid a visit to stylish, wine-focused Richmond venue, Saint Urban which arrived on the scene in mid-2015 to much applause.

Confit duck at Saint Urban. IMAGE: supplied

Confit duck at Saint Urban. IMAGE: supplied

The team behind the business share impeccable hospo pedigree and the vibe really nails that low-lit, Euro-influenced wine bar thing that Melbourne does so well. 





213 Swan Street, Richmond

T: (03) 8456 0933


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JUST OPEN || George Jones Eatery, Pascoe Vale

Been to Pascoe Vale lately? Never ever? OK, now's your time to go. With its slick fit-out, house roasted coffee and an ex-Longrain chef in charge of the menu George Jones Eatery is putting PV on the map in a big way.

A mere three weeks in, the spacious Eon designed day/night operation is already red hot and packed. Sure, it's kinda helped along by the fact that it's probably the only cool place to eat in PV, but hey, it's all good news!

IMAGE: Thanh Do

IMAGE: Thanh Do

My friend Rebeka and I had brunch there on the weekend and we'd barely finished our first mouthful of food before we'd plotted a return visit. It's a really nice option for northsiders with children, but thanks to generous table spacing and some very well thought out acoustics and design, kid-dodgers can happily dine in peace too.

Green eggs and ham dish. IMAGE: Thanh Do

Green eggs and ham dish. IMAGE: Thanh Do

They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days and while the liquor licence is pending you're welcome to BYO (no cost) from the bottle-shop a few doors down.

Coffee? You'll find a Di Bella house blend plus house-roasted single origins and retail beans too. 

I wrote a story about it for Epicure/Good Food. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE >>>


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FEATURE || Chefs on a Waste Mission

At this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, a band of local chefs have been handed a culinary challenge: to transform their offcuts, ugly stuff and otherwise binned bits into something super delicious for a happy hour with a difference.

Reimagining food waste for an audience of savvy gastronomes demands serious creativity and resourcefulness. So it's a good thing the folk behind the inaugural Yume Hour have deployed some of our city's finest to take on the mission.

L-R: Katy Barfield (The Yume App), Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso), Jesse Gerner (Bomba), Chris Moran (San Telmo), Kam McManamey (Botherambo), Joe Grbac (St Crispin). IMAGE: supplied

L-R: Katy Barfield (The Yume App), Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso), Jesse Gerner (Bomba), Chris Moran (San Telmo), Kam McManamey (Botherambo), Joe Grbac (St Crispin). IMAGE: supplied

The March 5 event, part of MFWF, challenges some of the city's most creative chefs to plate up delicious dishes using food that would otherwise be wasted, and diners get the chance to eat the end result for just $1. Yup, that's not a typo - A BUCK. Plus 100% of funds raised are being donated to Melbourne’s food rescue charities. 

Sage and beef meatballs with tomato sugo and polenta pecorino fries, and lamb, prosciutto and broccoli empanada at San Telmo.  IMAGE: supplied

Sage and beef meatballs with tomato sugo and polenta pecorino fries, and lamb, prosciutto and broccoli empanada at San Telmo. IMAGE: supplied

Chefs including Guy Grossi (Grossi Florentino), Jesse Gerner (Bomba, Anada), Joe Grbac (St Crispin), Alejandro Saravia (Pastuso), Chris Moran (San Telmo), Kam McManamey (Botherambo) and more will be spinning their offcuts into something special.

I wrote a story about it for Epicure/Good Food. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE >>>



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JUST OPEN || Padre Coffee in Royal Arcade

There are some big, brash operators in the Melbourne specialty coffee scene, then there are the quiet achievers. For me, Padre Coffee most certainly sits in the latter camp, and for that I salute them.

IMAGE via Padre Coffee

IMAGE via Padre Coffee

Their coffee (which they roast in Brunswick) is consistently great, their staff are some of the least pretentious you'll find and they use creamy-good St David Dairy milk - tick, tick, tick.

Oh yeah, and they sell Butterbings too, so what more do you want.

If you live or work in Melbourne's CBD you'll be loving the fact that the boys have just opened a new outlet. It's a teeny tiny, standing-room-only espresso bar in the gorgeously historic Royal Arcade.

Go and talk to Sam and Gito (pictured below). They make great coffee and as you can see, they're TOTAL SPUNKS taboot (ladies, you can tell them I sent you).

I visited them for Good Food - YOU CAN READ THE ARTICLE HERE.

Sam O'Neill + Gito Go at the new Royal Arcade shop. IMAGE: me.

Sam O'Neill + Gito Go at the new Royal Arcade shop. IMAGE: me.


Shop 48, Royal Arcade, 335 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm.


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NEWS || Hood Food Guide hits Northcote

Sometimes I get asked to do random stuff. When my mate Jesse Gerner (the dude behind successful Melbourne diners Bomba, Añada and Green Park) asked me to roll in his posse for an episode of The Hood Food Guide I was like, HELL YES.

We filmed the ep back in July, swinging by a bunch of my favourite local joints including Merricote, Pizza Meine Liebe and my *offical* favourite bar ever Joe's Shoe Store. 

L-R: chef Adam D'Sylva (Tonka, Coda), yours truly, Marty McQuilten (Atticus Finch), Jesse Gerner (Bomba, Añada, Green Park).

L-R: chef Adam D'Sylva (Tonka, Coda), yours truly, Marty McQuilten (Atticus Finch), Jesse Gerner (Bomba, Añada, Green Park).

If you look carefully, you might see what I saw - the boys unravelling bit by bit as the night wore on. In fact, I've dubbed the show 'Gettin' Messy with Jesse'. Let's just say I'm kinda relieved the Joe's Shoe Store footage was left on the cutting room floor... 

One of the Hood Food boys tucking in at Pizza Meine Liebe 

One of the Hood Food boys tucking in at Pizza Meine Liebe 

Props to Tom Njim and the crew for bossing us around with such sexy sass and for producing such a classy series. Super keen to seeing the next few episodes.



INTERVIEW || Leon Bridges

In March 2015 I discovered the music of up-and-coming Texan singer songwriter, Leon Bridges and like a lot of people, I fell crazy in love with his whole vibe - the look, the sound, the dance moves - as well as the honesty and integrity that Leon brings to his art. Take a listen here and you'll see what I mean

If you're a fan of spine-tingling heartfelt gospel, handsome men in smart vintage attire or mid-century soul a la Sam Cooke and Otis Redding then there's a good chance you'll be diggin' his vibe too.

Image:  Rambo . 

Image: Rambo

Naturally, I was pretty excited when I got the chance to interview Leon over the phone from Dallas during his sold out US tour. That was in October, shortly after he had announced a forthcoming tour to Australia for our summer festival season. 

Since that time, the Fort Worth native has been nominated for a Grammy, short-listed for a best-original-song Oscar and made everyone fall in love with him on his sold out tour of Australia - yet he still took time out to hang with me backstage and let me get a cute pic.

Backstage at RRR FM studios in Brunswick.

Backstage at RRR FM studios in Brunswick.

The guy is hugely talented and on the cusp of being a massive star, yet he still has the nicest manners of probably anyone I've met on the job. He's a bit of a charmer too.

My interview with Leon appeared on Broadsheet in December 2015. 

Read full article here.

INTERVIEW || Magnus Nilsson

When I met with internationally acclaimed Swedish chef chef Magnus Nilsson in Melbourne recently,  the thing that struck me most about him - aside from his lanky death metal locks - was his humble modesty and sense of ease.

This stuff is pretty tough to come by with folks operating at the pointy end of the industry like Nilsson is. Heck, when your restaurant is widely considered among the best in the world and you're being featured for a Netflix doco it's almost your duty to have a raging ego and weird social energy. Not so with Nilsson. He was a genuinely friendly dude.

Swedish chef, Magnus Nilsson. IMAGE: supplied.

Swedish chef, Magnus Nilsson. IMAGE: supplied.

Touring Australia recently to promote his new book The Nordic Cook Book (Phaidon Press), Nilsson sat down with me to talk through his process for approaching the project. Along the way I learnt that there’s way more to Nordic cuisine than NOMA, fermented shark, and IKEA meatballs.

A whole three years (and countless home-cooked meals in tiny Nordic villages) in the making, the book uncovers the little-known, varied food traditions of this isolated part of the world. It makes an excellent introduction to seasonal Nordic cuisine and will have you gravlaxing like a viking in no time. 


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The Nordic Cook Book is on sale now through Phaidon Press.


IMAGE: supplied by Phaidon.

IMAGE: supplied by Phaidon.

JUST OPEN || Mammoth, Armadale

You know the guys behind Northcote's crazy-popular Barry recently opened a newbie in Armadale, right? Right.

It's called Mammoth, and I checked it out @goodfoodau.

IMAGE: Thomas Terlaak

IMAGE: Thomas Terlaak

A quick look around will reveal the same combination of smart interiors, slick branding and clever, zeitgeist fare that helped turn Barry into a heaving, queues-out-the-door behemoth.

IMAGE: Thomas Terlaak

IMAGE: Thomas Terlaak



Open Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm; Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm.

736 Malvern Road, Armadale, 9824 5239, eatmammoth.com

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NEWS || Greg Malouf Eyes Off His Next Move

In the Australian food scene, and indeed world-over, he's considered the godfather of modern Middle Eastern cuisine. For me, he's been a colleague, mentor and now friend of almost 20 years. 

Melbourne-born, Lebanese-blooded chef Greg Malouf has been a busy man since he closed his restaurant, MoMo and left Melbourne in 2012. 

Greg Malouf. Image supplied.

Greg Malouf. Image supplied.

He notably scored a Michelin star during his time at England's Petersham Nurseries, and for the past two years he's been stationed in Dubai, heading up the kitchen at the glitzy Clé Dubai.

But things are stirring, and Greg's ready for his next project. It sounds like he's keen to make a departure from his signature high-end Middle Eastern fare and tap into the growing mid-range market. We chatted over dinner on his recent visit to Melbourne and I wrote about it for Good Food. 



Cle Dubai, Al Fattan Currency House, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emiratescle-dubai.com