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May 20, 2009

Australian venue plans to set new benchmark for event cuisine

Melbourne’s reputation for culinary diversity and world-class food and wine will be showcased to a local, national and international audience when the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) opens in July 2009.

Purpose-built kitchens will provide the team of nine permanent chefs with the best equipment and operating facilities to turn the freshest seasonal ingredients into an inspiring menu that the venue owners claim “will set a new benchmark for major Melbourne events”.

The city is renowned for its culinary delights, which come down the availability of excellent produce, and the MCEC has access to some of Victoria’s best. The kitchen will team sources seasonal produce from a well-established network of suppliers across regional Victoria, from the freshest seafood and premium beef to artisan cheese producers and exotic fruit and vegetable growers.

“We prefer to use small, artisan suppliers to ensure the best possible quality and, in many cases, flexibility to produce to specific requirements,” said the venue’s executive chef, Shaun Bowles.

“For large-scale events, we give our suppliers plenty of notice so they can deliver the quantities required. We also go right back to the raw ingredient wherever possible and then utilise the equipment, skills and experience of our kitchen teams to do things like, smoke and cure salmon and prepare bread and pastries on site. 

“This provides us with ultimate flexibility and also allows us to provide premium products affordably, especially for larger events.”

The wine list is focused on premium Victorian producers from diverse growing regions across the state.

“We work directly with reputable wineries in each region to access hard-to-find wines, as well as their more readily available products, which allows us to offer our clients great wines at various prices,” explained Frank Burger, manager, food and wine.

The MCEC reports that it will offer no set menus, “just a guide to the best produce of the season, which allows for a food-and-wine experience tailored to each client’s exacting requirements”.

“We don’t allow the number of guests to determine the quality of the menu,” continued Burger. “Whether we are cooking for one or 1000 our attention to detail remains the same.

“Many of our chefs have worked in leading restaurants around the world and bring a cross-pollination of culinary ideas and influences, depth of experience and talent to the kitchens, which can include providing memorable food and wine experiences for up to 7,000 people per day.”

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