Dan’s journey with cooking has taken him from Melbourne (Langton’s, Verge 2000-2003) to Head Chef at Mugaritz in Spain’s Basque Country (2005-2007 – Two Michelin Stars). Dan later spent six years heading the kitchen of Dunkeld’s Royal Mail Hotel (2007-2013 – AGFG Three Hats, GT Three Stars).
In 2013, Dan’s first solo venture, Brae opened in Birregurra, Victoria. In its first year, Brae was awarded Three Hats (The Age Good Food Guide) and Three Stars (Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards) and is currently ranked number 87 in the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list and number three in Australian Gourmet Traveller. Dan was named Chef of the Year in both The Age Good Food Guide 2016 and Australian Gourmet Traveller 2016 Restaurant Awards.
Master Sommelier, Rockpool Group
Sebastian Crowther has been working as a sommelier for over 10 years. During this time he has gained the title of Master Sommelier, becoming only the second in Australia to achieve this title. He has won Sydney Morning Herald 'Sommelier of the Year’ and also the ‘Judy Hirst’ award for writing the best wine list in the country. Sebastian is currently the Head Sommelier at Rockpool 1989.
Owner of Proud Mary Coffee Roasters
From his 1997 start in cafés of Christchurch and Perth, Nolan Hirte is now recognised as a pioneer of the specialty coffee industry in Australia. It was during a trip to Bali in 2006 that Nolan had come face-to-face with local farmers and the harsh realities of coffee production. The trip was a turning point for Nolan; he committed himself to bridging the gap between farmer and consumer. Nolan knew that to make a difference, he needed to build his profile. He took out the Western Australia Barista Champs in 2007 and earned a trip to the west coast of the States.
Inspired by Intelligentsia and Stumptown, Nolan returned to Australia where he was a key player in Apte and Liar Liar before going out on his own to open Proud Mary in November 2009.Taking up residence on the backstreets of Collingwood, Proud Mary proved pivotal in changing the way Melburnians consumed their coffee. "We were offering some of the first single origins in Melbourne. Green wasn’t anywhere near as amazing as it is now but we removed that banner of ‘special roaster’ bullshit and just told people what they were getting. We were honest about it and that changed things, it opened doors”, says Nolan. Setting the standard with Nolan at the helm, Proud Mary won The Age Good Café Guide Best Café 2012 among other accolades. Fast forward to 2016 and Proud Mary has evolved to include roasting, wholesale, the Aunty Peg’s black coffee brew bar and Collingwood Coffee College, all driven by Nolan’s determination to see the hard work of coffee farmers recognised by consumers.
Showing no signs of slowing, Nolan will continue to innovate and improve the coffee experience because, as he puts it, “if you’re not having fun with it, why do it at all?”
Max is the award-winning wine columnist for The Weekend Australian and Gourmet Traveller WINE, wine editor for Gourmet Traveller magazine, Australian correspondent for jancisrobinson.com, and a past Creative Fellow at the State Library of Victoria. Max’s book The Future Makers: Australian Wines for the 21st Century was named Best International Wine Book at the Louis Roederer Wine Writers Awards in London in 2011. Max has judged at various booze competitions including as chief judge at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, the Organic Wine Show and the Australian Cider Awards.
Max plays bluegrass mandolin and is a backyard cider maker.
The Fermentary, Melbourne
Serial expat and long term passionate 'wild’ fermenter, Sharon Flynn started The Fermentary accidentally/on purpose by feeding her ferments to friends and family who were too busy to ferment their own food. Her products continue to sell purely through word of mouth all around Australia. In her second year of business she teamed up with restaurant veteran Roger Fowler taking the business to new heights along with The Fermentary winning "best new product' and "medalist" from the Delicious. magazine awards. Sharon is very relieved to have handed in a book on wild fermenting, to be published early 2017.
After working as a waiter and sommelier in fine dining, Josh Elias now publishes Alquimie magazine. Alquimie was recently awarded Best Wine Publication by the Wine Communicators of Australia. Alquimie is an embodiment of his hopes and aspirations for self-education. "Alquimie is the path forwards. There is no limit to what can be learned from collaboration with journalists and enthusiasts from around the world.” Josh holds an advanced certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as being the Dux of Victoria's first WSET diploma intake.
Angie has one of those faces you’re sure you’ve met before. Chances are, if you love good food and wine and have a thing for exceptional service, you have.
Easily recognised from her years at the helm of The Press Club and days as part owner and conceptual designer of Hellenic Republic Brunswick, Angie’s experience and authentic love of hospitality has truly come to fruition in her ownership of new European favourites Epocha Carlton and Elyros in Camberwell. Respected equally for her impressive knowledge of Greek and old world wines as for as her legendary hospitality, she was most recently recognised in the 2015 Age Good Food Guide where she took out the CITI Service Excellence Award.
Baker/Chef, De Superette - Belgium
I came to baking about 11 or 12 years ago I guess in a rather round about way…really it was the ovens. I got the opportunity to spend some time with the late Alan Scott, a Tasmanian transplant to Northern California, and considered by many to be the father of the wood-fired bread movement in America. So much more then just a mason, he was an all around renaissance man and wonderful human being. His devotion to craft has always stuck with me. My first apprenticeship was in Wisconsin with miller/baker Jeff Ford at Cress Spring Bakery, and I have been a baker ever since.
In 2012, I was given the opportunity to go to Belgium to build a bread program at In De Wulf for Kobe Desramaults. What began as a simple consulting job evolved into De Superette the wood-fired bakery/restaurant the he, myself and Rose Greene started in early summer of 2014. A community-oriented space based around local produce, stone-ground flours, natural leavens and lots of fire, we strive to, everyday, provide our guests with real food, a glimpse into our craft, and a fucking good time.
Two Metre Tall Farmhouse Ale & Cider
Ashley established TwoMetreTall on a farm eleven years ago. With an honours degree in Chemistry, post-graduate training in oenology & international experience as a winemaker he started brewing, inspired by the hop growing heritage of the region.
Ashley has pushed the boundaries of brewing in Australia with his farmhouse ales & ciders and discovered that the "frontline" is no place for the timid.
He was recently commissioned to brew a beverage for the Wine Degustation menu at Noma Australia. By blending aged ales & wild fermented ciders the resultant "Snakebite" has re-imagined an Australian classic as well as nudging sparkling wine from sole occupancy of the “celebratory aperitif” position it hitherto assumed.
Kevin Donovan was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut and from his first part time job washing pots and pans to earn a bit of pocket money, hospitality was in his blood. This led to a degree in Hospitality Management at the University of Massachusetts and selection into Hyatt Hotel’s Executive
Management Training Program Kevin’s career with Hyatt spanned eleven years and three continents – North America, Asia and Australia – culminating with being named as Director of Food and Beverage at Hyatt’s flagship Australian property, Grand Hyatt Melbourne. A visit home, and a stop in Los Angeles, inspired his first restaurant concept, Chinois, which opened in 1989 to huge acclaim. In 1995, he and Melbourne born wife Gail purchased the lease of the old Jean Jacques restaurant on St Kilda Beach. In 1997, they transformed it into “Donovans” a new concept in stylish, comfortable eating and drinking by the sea.
Entrepeneur and Business Development Manager
Leon is the Director of Operations for Proud Mary Coffee Roasters, and also a business owner within the hospitality industry. Leon has been working as a business consultant and advisor to various companies within Melbourne and Hong Kong. He has previously served as CEO for The Bulgarian High-flyers and is also the founding member of The Fitzroy Father’s Group. To date, Leon has had limited success in setting up and maintaining an acceptable LinkedIn profile.