Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Once More with Gusto

On the 27th of September I found myself walking up the steps of the State Library and past the hard working (scratch that), bored Facebook stalking students, to attend the evening open panel discussion, 'The Changing Menu', being held for the Library's current 'Gusto' exhibition. It included some of Melbourne's epicurial heavyweights like Hilary McNevin (journalist for The Age and reviewer and editor of The Age Good Food Guide), Richard Cornish (writer for The Age Epicure and creative director for the Melbourne food and Wine Festival), Simon Denton (of Izakaya Den and Hihou), Daniel Wilson (of Huxtable and Huxtaburger) and Claire Davie (blogger of 'Melbourne Gastronome'). The conversation flowed casually and naturally between the panelists who raised some interesting points concerning Melbourne's ever changing gastronomic climate.

Among those that tickled my fancy the most were the discussions about food trends. You would either have to be blind or a hermit who stays at home watching Bold and the Beautiful reruns not to notice the current 'dude food' movement including tacos, hot dogs, fried chicken, American style diners, burgers, burger vans and well, perhaps some more burgers! Would you like fries with that? We also went through our gourmet pizza, Mexican and Japanese (coupled with sake matching) and the quietly growing meatball faze. There was also discussion on how global climate effects the way we eat. for example as our wallets get tighter due to the GFC, comfort food steps into the lime light. Desserts have become the heroes of our meal and are representative of childish classics (like the 'snickers bar' dessert), in order to evoke feeling of calm and nostalgia from the customer. After all, childhood was a time where we needn't worry about bills, taxes or Tony Abbot.

On the subject of global issues, the problem of climate change was also discussed in reference to Melbourne's current obsession with produce and where it comes from. Personally, I don't really feel the need to know the breed, age and name of the cow I'm eating or that my asparagus was harvested while the farmer gently serenaded it with Mozart (though that could just be be me), but nowadays it's the norm!

The final topic I found particularly interesting was that on the service provided by restaurants in Melbourne. All panelists concluded that no matter what changes in terms of food trends, where and how we eat our food and whether we're drinking wine or cider, hospitality's core principal is still looking after people. It appears that one thing will always remain the same in Melbourne and that's passion. Passion from the customers and passion from our chefs.

The exhibition 'Gusto' will run up until the 28th of April 2013, so head down and check it out...I guarantee its much more interesting then Facebook stalking.

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