Today (9 November), Melbourne Food & Wine Festival announced the winners of one of the nation’s longest-standing awards for lifetime achievement in hospitality. Established in 1993 and presented by Hostplus, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Legends program showcases the contributions made by key figures across the spectrum of food and drink.
This year seven local identities were inducted into the Legends Hall of Fame, joining the greatest leaders, ground breakers and visionaries of Victoria’s food and drink scene. Nominations are taken from Legends elected over the last three decades as well as from other thought-leaders in the food and drink sector, and are ratified by a selection panel that this year comprised Legend emeritus, author and journalist Jill Dupleix, author and teacher Tony Tan, wine writer Jane Faulkner, MFWF’s industry lead Daisy Slade, and creative director Pat Nourse.
“Our Legends this year represent the very best of food and drink in Victoria, from chefs and producers to advocates and educators,” says Nourse. “Each of these people have contributed significantly to their chosen fields and collectively represent the passion, innovation and creativity of the state’s hospitality industry, the late John Reid not least among them. The state of Victoria and the eaters and drinkers, producers and restaurateurs of Australia are the richer and the better for their work. We’re very proud to call them Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Legends.”
The 2021 Legends Hall of Fame inductees are:
- Chef/restaurateur/hospitality professional – Karen Martini
With more than 30 years of cooking experience, Karen Martini is a chef, restaurateur, food writer and cookbook author, best known for her role as a TV presenter on Better Homes and Gardens. Rising through the ranks of male-dominated kitchens in the 90s, Martini earned a reputation for a strong work ethic and creative flair. Starting her career at Tansy’s in Carlton, she went on to lead the kitchen at such landmark venues as Melbourne Wine Room and Mr Wolf in St Kilda and Icebergs Dining Room & Bar in Sydney. She is now chef and co-owner of Hero at Federation Square.
- Food producer/retailer/advocate – Sharon Flynn, The Fermentary
A leading expert in fermentation, Sharon Flynn is owner of The Fermentary, an award-winning small-batch fermentation business located in Daylesford. For more than 20 years, Flynn has been exploring the ancient art of fermentation in Malaysia, Japan, Europe and the US. In 2017, Flynn published the book, Ferment for Good: Ancient Food for the Modern Gut, which found a following among new and seasoned fermenters alike. Her dedication to the craft has seen her business grow exponentially, with her products now featuring in some of Australia’s leading bars and restaurants including Lake House Daylesford and Cumulus Inc.
- Drink producer/retailer/advocate – Otto Dal Zotto, Dal Zotto Wines
Born in Italy’s cool-climate Veneto wine region, Otto Dal Zotto migrated to Australia in 1967 and was immediately drawn to Victoria’s alpine region. Settling in the King Valley, Dal Zotto initially farmed tobacco before establishing Dal Zotto Wines with his wife Elena in 1987. He planted some of the first prosecco vines in Australia in the late 1990s, determined to introduce Australians to a “decent prosecco”. Dal Zotto Wines is now a multi-generational, award-winning family wine brand known for Italian varieties such as arneis, pinot grigio, sangiovese and nebbiolo as well as prosecco.
- Communicator/educator – Dani Valent
An award-winning journalist, restaurant critic and author, Dani Valent has been a regular in the pages of The Age newspaper for more than 15 years. She wrote her first cookbook in 2011, before going on to write two more. For almost 10 years, Valent has been an ambassador for food rescue organisation, FareShare, and she continues to support causes that lean into her love of food. Armed with a passion for sharing her knowledge, Valent is recognised as a leading food writer and critic, is a regular MC and interviewer at festivals around Victoria and host of the Dirty Linen podcast. Throughout the pandemic lockdowns Valent has been a tireless advocate for the hospitality industry in general and foreign visa workers in particular, including working alongside Ben Shewry’s team at the Attica soup kitchen
- Local hero – John Reid, RedBeard Historic Bakery
Co-founder of Trentham’s RedBeard Bakery, John Reid was a much-loved and well-respected figure in Australian baking. Originally trained under the late David Brown at Firebrand bakery in Ripponlea, Reid was as champion of good food production, championing, among other things, quality grain and traditional milling, and the recommissioning of wood-burning Scotch ovens across Australia including those at Werribee Mansion and the heritage-listed Abbotsford Convent. In 2005, Reid and his brother bought the historic RedBeard site in Trentham, where they refurbished the old Scotch oven and created what quickly became an award-winning bakery. He passed away in September 2021, six months after being diagnosed with brain cancer; he is remembered by friends and his community as a beautiful, kind and generous person, with a commitment to perfecting his craft and sharing it with others.
- Hostplus Trailblazer – Jung Eun Chae, Chae
The Hostplus Trailblazer award recognises the contribution of a Victorian food and drink talent under 40 years of age and with at least five years’ experience in the trade who has forged their own path. Korean-born Jung Eun Chae is the very definition of a trailblazer, having run single-handedly one of Melbourne’s most in-demand restaurants, offering diners a unique take on Korean cuisine, originally from the unusual setting of a one-bedroom apartment in Brunswick. Arriving in Australia at 20 years of age and inspired by her mother’s traditional southern South Korean cooking, Chae knew that a career in food was her calling. She trained at William Angliss Institute and went on to work in some of Melbourne’s most ambitious kitchens including Lûmé and Cutler & Co. Her career was disrupted by a car accident that left her with a severe ankle injury and forced her to return to Korea. Returning to Melbourne, Chae was determined to reignite her cooking dream and opened a six-seater restaurant within her Brunswick apartment. Chae has recently moved to Cockatoo and will open a new and expanded version of her eponymous restaurant later this year.
- Sustainability Champion – Joost Bakker
This new Legends award goes to an Australian designer, restaurateur and zero-waste activist known around the world for his ethos on sustainability and creating a zero-waste future. Arriving in Australia at the age of nine, the son of a Dutch tulip farmer, Joost Bakker was taught from a young age to value the natural environment. Originally known in Melbourne for his stunning floral installations at some of the city’s best bars and restaurants, Bakker has become renowned more broadly for his zero-waste projects including Greenhouse by Joost in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, Silo in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane and, most recently, Future Food System with chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone.
CEO of Hostplus, David Elia says, “The Legends and Trailblazers awards are all about honouring the groundbreakers and sustained performers in food and drink. The individuals honoured this year and their teams have shown that even in the toughest times, hospitality can be an inspiration for our entire community. Hostplus is the industry fund for those that live and love Australian hospitality, tourism, recreation and sport – we’re proud to support the industries that make Australia great, and proud to join Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in celebrating all the winners of this year’s awards, and sharing their stories.”
The 2021 Legends inductees join more than 150 leaders from the food, drink and hospitality trade. The program recognises an individual’s contribution to the industry and celebrates their role in shaping, sustaining and celebrating Victoria’s international reputation as a centre of food, drink and hospitality excellence.
About the Legends program
MFWF Legends are people who demonstrate:
- Extended service to the Victorian food and wine industry
- An outstanding contribution to the Victorian food and wine industry through innovation or education, whether creating artisan cheeses or a world-class restaurant, blazing a wine trail, or shaping the next generation of food professionals
- A proven record in inspiring and informing the public, the media and peers as an advocate for Victoria’s rich food and drink culture
About Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is Australia’s premier internationally acclaimed celebration of food and drink. mfwf.com.au
Founded by the Australian Hotels Association and the United Workers Union1 in 1988, Hostplus has grown to be one of the largest super funds in Australia. With over 1.3 million members, more than 235,000 employers and $68 billion in funds under management2 (as at 30 June 2021), its scale and ongoing growth allows for low member costs and a broad range of investment opportunities.
With its origins in the hospitality and tourism industries, Hostplus continues to evolve as the lifetime fund of choice for all Australians, delivering retirement income security to its members.
1 Formerly called United Voice.
2 Includes funds under management for the Hostplus Pooled Superannuation Trust.