Maria Canabal is an award-winning journalist, trends hunter, lecturer and curator who lives in Paris, Madrid and Copenhagen. She writes about food, travel and lifestyle for the world-renowed magazines : Monocle, Gourmet, Vogue Casa, Le Nouvel Observateur and for The world’s 50 Best Restaurants Blog In 2010 and 2011, Maria Canabal was a member of the jury for the tittle of Best Sommelier of Spain.
Her book, Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops) has been awarded as Best Design Cook Book and Best Photography by Gourmand Cookbooks Awards in 2014. Her latest book Cocinando un Tributo by El Celler de Can Roca has been awarded as Best Chef Book by Gourmand Cookbooks Awards in 2016. She has been recognized as the Most Influential Women in Gastronomyin 2015 by the Foundation Women’s Week.
Maria Canabal is the president of Parabere Forum, the first forum in the world for women in gastronomy, an annual event that gathers thought leaders in the field of food.
MasterChef Judge, Author & Columnist
Matt Preston is an award-winning food journalist and best-selling cookbook author. He is also the co-host and judge on one of the most-watched cooking shows in the world, “MasterChef Australia” Matt writes a weekly column for delicious on Sunday read by 4million Australians every week. He is also a senior editor for delicious and taste magazines, and contributes to one of Australia’s best read website, Taste with a monthly reach of 2 million food lovers.
Operation Dagger & BYRDI
Luke Whearty is a bar operator, restaurant innovator and drink creator. Creativity is evident in everything he does, and he does it with a huge amount of passion.
Luke has travelled far and wide, each new place shaping him along the way, and ultimately leading to his and partners Aki Nishikura latest venture, BYRDI. There’s a bar on the horizon, and BYRDI bottled cocktails are already available in selected bars and restaurants.
Keep your eyes peeled.
Co-founder and General Manager, Scarf
Hannah is a hospitality professional, Swinburne Multimedia (Media Studies) graduate and occasional freelance writer with a soft spot for limericks. She’s worked in restaurants for over 10 years, and loves food (particularly Italian, Mexican and Thai) and the social side of hospitality.
After volunteering with the refugee community in Fitzroy, including editing *bespoken, a newspaper providing a voice to marginalised members of the community, run by The Social Studio, Hannah co-founded Scarf with Jess Moran in 2010. Hannah was a mentor in Scarf’s early programs, and looked after marketing and communications for three years, before becoming General Manager in 2013. She firmly believes in the power of social enterprise to allow young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections needed to break into employment. As well as ensuring the trainees get the most out of the program, Hannah is interested in fostering the Scarf community – volunteers, dinner guests, host restaurants, sponsors, knitters and the like. She also spends a bit of time gently reminding people that Scarf is not an acronym! In our case, it’s just a warm, comforting show of support and an expression of culture.
Mir was a trainee during the Autumn Scarf ‘16 season, which included a series of Scarf Dinners at Rupert on Rupert in Collingwood. After graduating from Scarf in May 2016, he very quickly landed a job at the renowned Jimmy Watson’s in Carlton. Following this, Mir worked in the ‘Teak Room’ at Crown. A regular patron at The Lincoln, Mir was approached by owner Iain Ling to help him run the front-of-house at new Carlton venue Superling, where he is currently employed full time.
Founder, Coconut Bowls
Jake McKeon is the founder of Coconut Bowls. At just 29 years old, Jake has multiple start-ups under his belt, and has a knack for developing engaged communities and encouraging customers to do the marketing for them. Coconut Bowls has developed a community of more than 2 million people, and their customers create and share thousands of user generated content every week, exposing the brand to a huge amount of potential customers organically. Jake believes that nothing fuels business growth like passionate customers, who know they're a valuable part of the brands community.
Chef & Photographer
After finishing his apprenticeship at Tetsuya’s, Luke traveled to Europe before returning to Australia to embark on a career in freelance food and travel photography. In 2006 Luke and his partner took the plunge and moved to Tasmania in search of a culinary adventure, and soon after opened Pecora Café, located about 45 minutes south of Hobart. Little did Luke know that this would mark the beginning of an exciting culinary journey that involved working with local fishermen, small growers and other artisan producers in the state and region. A couple of years later, inspired by a stint at Copenhagen’s Noma in 2010, Luke and business partners Katrina Birchmeier and Kirk Richardson opened Garagistes in Hobart. Luke wanted to create a casual communal environment that specialized in natural wines and produce sourced from Tasmania. Garagistes quickly hit a nerve with the public and the industry, rapidly earning accolades. In 2011, Luke won best new Talent in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant awards, scored two stars in the Gourmet Traveller restaurant guide and Garagistes was nominated 17 in the top 100 restaurants nationally. In 2012 an offshoot of Garagistes called Sidecar was opened.
Luke was also a board member of SPROUT, a not for profit organisation that aims to mentor and encourage a new generation of farmers and growers and help give Tasmanian producers a wider audience. In 2014 Luke and his business partners decided to close Garagistes in 2015 (whilst still on a high) to pursue other ventures. Since closing Garagistes Luke has cooked in 8 different countries in collaboration with industry colleagues and hosts, run 10 William St in Sydney for 5 months and started a company that specialises in consulting to new and small hospitality businesses with little or minimal exposure to the industry. Luke’s plans for the future include a farm based business that facilitates a division between kitchen and gardening tasks whilst exploring what can grown in Southern Australia.
Ninna is up for a challenge and has never been afraid of doing things differently. After finishing her Bachelor degree in Design, Culture and Economics from the University of Southern Denmark in 2012 she moved to Melbourne, Australia to live and learn.
After spending time working for some of Melbourne’s best coffee shops, she founded Reground in 2014 after experiencing the mountains of coffee waste ending in landfill first hand. A minimalist and sustainability fan, Ninna is an active follower of the ‘less is more’ lifestyle. She wants to see the waste system change to being supportive of the community and future generations.Ninna is up for a challenge and has never been afraid of doing things differently. After finishing her Bachelor degree in Design, Culture and Economics from the University of Southern Denmark in 2012 she moved to Melbourne, Australia to live and learn. After spending time working for some of Melbourne’s best coffee shops, she founded Reground in 2014 after experiencing the mountains of coffee waste ending in landfill first hand. A minimalist and sustainability fan, Ninna is an active follower of the ‘less is more’ lifestyle. She wants to see the waste system change to being supportive of the community and future generations.
R U OK? & LifeLine ambassador, founder of Food for Thought.
Mal started his career in cooking 12 years ago at a humble family Italian restaurant in Sydneys inner western suburbs. Over this time he has gained experience in great restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne, England, Europe and America, the culmination of this leading to the a 9 month pop up restaurant tour across Europe, England and Japan in 2017 with his own business Food + Wine pop up. Since 2014, the annual Food for Thought charity dinners have founded a unique collaboration of emerging and talented hospitality professionals to create exceptional dinners for a higher cause. The concept continues to grow annually to support mental health awareness and start the conversation in hospitality especially.
Yoga Chef Paolo has worked in numerous high-end restaurants such as the three Michelin starred Guy Savoy and Osteria Mozza by Mario Batali in Singapore. After arriving in Australia and working at the coveted restaurants; Vue de Monde, Tipo 00, Amaru and Nora. At the beginning of 2013, Paolo became head chef position for Melbourne's first not for profit cafe, Kinfolk helping with a massive renovation of the space in 2014, which enabled them donate more than $80,000 to charity projects both in and outside Australia.
In late 2014, Paolo created a unique series of fine dining dinners called Speak As You Eat that lasted over two years and donated all the profits (more than $10,000) to charity projects.
In 2008, during a 3 month backpacking trip around India, Paolo discovered yoga and practiced it as an escape from the hectic hours and pace of high ends restaurants. In 2018, feeling the need to share his new views with the hospitality industry, he founded Chef’s of Yoga, a project which aims to bring a more healthy environment to kitchens, bars, cafes and FOH. What began as a monthly yoga class only for chefs, now also involves pop up events, yoga and meditation classes in the actual work place, studio classes and private one on one tuition. Helping hospitality workers to manage stress levels, be more efficient, focus at work, take care of their body and mind and not fall into the bad habits that the hospitality industry can lead to.
Director - Victoria Red Cross
Wenda Donaldson has a strong background in policy development and program management at national and state levels. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology and Graduate Certificate in Career Counselling.
Wenda began her working life as a career counsellor working with young athletes on scholarship at the Victorian Institute of Sport and then led the program nationally, as well as supporting its establishment in the UK and New Zealand.
Wenda then moved into the field of community sport where she established and led the national Active After-School Communities Program working across 3000 communities to introduce sport in a safe, fun and playful way. Ultimately reaching over 500,000 children.
Prior to joining Red Cross, Wenda was employed with the Australian Government Department of Education where she held a number of senior executive roles and was also a recipient of the Secretary's Award of Excellence for her outstanding work in staff and team development.
Wenda joined Red Cross in 2014 and currently holds the office of Director Victoria, Australian Red Cross.