Sharlee grew up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. At 18, she stumbled into the world of food and travelled the world working in hospitality. A keen cook, Sharlee trained under Darina Allen at her famed Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland before forging a career off the pans as an event manager and curator.
A former Gastronomy Program Manager for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Sharlee now runs her own events business curateEAT, is a regular contributor to Eater and Luckie and she is the founder of Fully Booked Women - a community for women in the food and drinks industry. She has co-authored her first cookbook with husband chef Matt Wilkinson called How it is at Home, due for release in October.
Fleet Restaurant, New South Wales
Astrid has been in hospitality ever since she entered the workforce as a teenager. However it was a work experience position in year 10 at a French restaurant Manfred’s that sealed her fate. During the 20+ years I have worked at both ends of the spectrum and held a diverse number of roles. I’ve no formalised training and worked at no venues of note.
Astrid's first restaurant Loam was opened in 2009 with then partner Aaron Turner. Loam operated for four years and over that time received two hats from AGFG and Regional Restaurant of the Year from Gourmet Traveller.
In 2015 Astrid and partner Josh opened Fleet, a small 14 seat restaurant. Since then Fleet has been awarded Regional Restaurant of the Year, Two Hats, and Regional Wine List. Fleet also won the Service Excellence award at the Good Food Guide awards last year.
Provenance Restaurant, Victoria
Michael Ryan is one of regional Victoria’s most respected chefs. With partner Jeanette Henderson, he is the owner of Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth, north-east Victoria (Australia).
Ryan and Henderson’s newest venture, which opened in early 2009, is Provenance Restaurant and Luxury Suites — its name acknowledging that every ingredient and flavour he uses has an identifiable place of origin, and so brings its own history to the table. Located in a nineteenth century bank building in the historic town of Beechworth, Provenance.
At Provenance, Ryan has expanded his culinary style by exploring textures and investigatingdifferent techniques of food preparation.
Bureaux Collective, Melbourne
Tim Williams is the co-founder of Bureaux Collective — a specialty coffee incubator that provides Melbourne cafes with the equipment, training, and support to get started roasting for themselves.
Tim has developed and lead renowned specialty coffee brands across three continents, with a focus on building quality-driven coffee sourcing, roasting, and retailing operations. He's held senior roles with Workshop Coffee and Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London, as well as Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea in Los Angeles, and collaborated on Maison Kitsuné's 'Cafe Kitsuné' coffee bar in Paris.
Today, Tim lives in Melbourne and divides his time between roles as CEO of both Bureaux Collective and the World AeroPress Championship, running a small charity in rural Rwanda, and raising three young daughters.
Blackmore Wagyu, New South Wales
David Blackmore is a 5th generation Australian farmer, founding Blackmore Wagyu Beef in 1988.
Blackmore Wagyu Beef has developed a fine reputation, both domestically and internationally, where it is sought after by some of the world’s most famous chefs.
This reputation has been built up by not just its beef quality, but its attention to detail in genetic breeding, method of production, animal husbandry and welfare, protection of the environment, sustainable farming including financial viability, and a strong marketing program which continually involves its customers.
Blackmore Wagyu is a multi-award recognised company.
Alex is the founder of industry non-for profit P(OUR) and former Head Bartender of Artesian, London, where he has led the bar and his team to win multiple awards. Artesian was recognized as Number 1, for the four consecutive years in the World’s 50 Best Bar Awards. Alex has also collected several personal awards including “Best International Bartender” (2012), at Tales of the Cocktail and “Bar Personality of the Year 2013” by Imbibe Magazine.
In November 2015, Alex left Artesian to pursue a new joint project with Simone Caporale and Monica Berg.
Robert Walters is the owner and chief wine buyer of Bibendum Wine Co (inc. Bibendum Bar) one of Australia's leading importers and distributors. He is also a vineyard owner and writer with over 25 years of experience in the wine trade.
His obsessive search for great grower wines (and now artisanal distillers) has led him to work closely with many important producers in Europe and Australasia.
Rob's book, Busting Bubbles: A Secret History & The Rise of the Great Growers has just been published in the UK (Quiller Publishing/amazon.co.uk) and will be published in Australia later this year by Allen & Unwin under the title, Champagne: A Secret History.
Sherwood Hotel, Queenstown
With a background in sociology and strategic planning combined with a lifelong hospo habit, Sam’s unconventional career has traversed advertising, design, innovation, sustainability, urban planning, hospitality and tourism.
In his role as a planner, Sam has been privileged to provide strategic leadership for a diverse range of clients including; The NZ Story, Tourism NZ, NZ Trade & Enterprise, Austrade, NZ International Festival, Auckland Council, NZ Film, Lion Nathan, Kumanu Lamb and NZ Plant & Food Research’s sustainable fisheries initiatives.
While long-term hospitality projects include Wellington institutions Matterhorn, Mighty Mighty, Auckland’s Golden Dawn and most recently Sherwood in Queenstown.
The Plato Project, Melbourne
After numerous failed business attempts growing up, and a couple of successful ones, Omar finished school and chased the dream of becoming a professional golfer. Realising this wasn't to be, he quickly found his passion for business once again and re-ignited his entrepreneurial ‘career’.
Not prepared for the rapid financial success, he squandered all he had earnt and more. After a family trip to Sri Lanka (to see where his father had grown up) provided the reset required, Omar has gone on to establish a successful venture and investment portfolio in diverse global sectors including property, professional services and education with presence through Australia, Asia and the United States.
Warndu, South Australia
Rebecca Sullivan is a self-taught cook and has worked with some of the world’s best food producers, academics, activists, and chefs. A food curator, sustainable living advocate, author, urban farmer and entrepreneur having recently founded Australian Native wellbeing brand Warndu with her Aboriginal partner Damien. Rebecca has worked on many a projects any food lover would envy, from launching the Real Food Festival in London to working on Slow Food Nation in San Francisco, farming coffee in Uganda to teaching scientists in the Maldives for the United Nations.
Ochre Nation, South Australia
Born in Queensland and raised in Southern Italy, Brendan has developed a passion throughout his upbringing to discover, explore and define Australian culture. Forming Ochre Nation in 2012, a group of sustainable enterprises were united: Unico Zelo Winery, Harvest Grower’s Co-Operative and Applewood Distillery, crafting produce that speak of their place and espouse a minimal intervention philosophy. Together with his wife Laura, they’re employing revolutionary business practices and posing a concept of what Australian identity is, and could be. With respect to the land they belong to – they approach native Australian produce with ultimate respect and optimism, and seek to introduce these into broader farming initiatives and production.