Neil Perry AM is Australia’s leading and most influential chef.
He has managed several quality restaurants in Australia and today concentrates on his flagship brand, the Rockpool Group, which includes Rockpool, Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Spice Temple Sydney and Melbourne, and Rosetta Ristorante.
Neil also heads a team of seven consultants to Qantas, including the Qantas First and Chairman’s Lounges.
Perry’s career in hospitality began at Sails restaurant at McMahons Point and in Rose Bay. Neil then became head chef at Barrenjoey Restaurant, Palm Beach and was also given creative control over Perry’s in Paddington. In October 1986, he opened the Blue Water Grill at Bondi Beach and took the site from a 20-year failure to an overnight success. He then opened Rockpool in February 1989 with his business partner Trish Richards, which has developed into a world-class restaurant, winning many awards both in Australia and overseas.
Through his involvement in the Starlight Children’s Foundation and various other charities, Perry was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013 for ‘significant service to the community as a benefactor of and a fundraiser for charities, and as a chef and restaurateur’.
Neil's passion and the importance he places on quality are evident in all his dishes, the business projects he undertakes, the charities he supports and the success his restaurants enjoy.
Women in Hospitality
Julia Campbell is the Chair of Women in Hospitality (WOHO) and GM of restaurant reservations system, Resy. Julia’s career in hospitality combines her love for the industry and for doing business. A qualified accountant, she cut her teeth in hospitality in New York and among other things, was part of a national not for profit called Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.
Julia returned to Australia two years ago to work in restaurant operations and discovered there wasn’t an equivalent organisation in Australia. She enlisted nine high profile women and WOHO was born. They now have 300+ members and growing fast as they give women the tools to confidently back their careers in hospitality.
Joanna Savill is an experienced communicator in the food space - as a longtime journalist, broadcaster and editor (including eight years with The SMH Good Food Guide) but also in the crazy world of marketing and events where she spends most of her time these days. She is a committed advocate for food producers, women in the hospitality industry and all those who work towards a better food future.
Palisa Anderson is a portion of a much larger whole that is her family business. Their first business Chat Thai was established in 1989, since then they have expanded the operations to 9 eateries, a grocery store, a travel agency and a farm.
Spending her childhood in and around restaurants gave her an appreciation for hospitality, a lifelong curiosity of food and ingredients and an easy rapport with people from all different walks of life.
After attending the University of Sydney she travelled and worked extensively in Hong Kong, London, New York and Tokyo for 10 years before coming back to Sydney and re-joining the family business much to the joy of her mother Amy, the family Matriarch.
Being one of the directors of the business her role is varied from overseeing staff management to being hands on with R’n’D for menu planning to selecting varieties of heirloom South East Asian herbs, fruits and vegetables to grow to grow on the farm. She is passionate about her role in creating affordably nutritious and enjoyable food and loves meeting challenges that a small family business faces.
'Loud, opinionated, daring & innovative', have all been words used to describe this young chef and the food he cooks at his restaurant, ACME. The 2010 Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award recipient has spent time in the world's best kitchens, including the likes of Sepia, Osteria Francescana and Duke Bistro and a pop up at London's Michelin Star restaurant, Lyle's.
ACME, the namesake of him and his business partners, was opened in 2015 and awarded Time Out's Restaurant of the Year award 5 months after opening. The restaurant was then awarded one hat at Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Awards. Having grown from strength to strength, ACME has since retained their hat.
Mitch is also one half of The Mitchen, a Sydney food podcast recorded alongside Andrew Levins.'
Dr. Irina Santiago-Brown
Dr. Irina Santiago-Brown is a winegrape grower and consultant in McLaren Vale, South Australia. Her research and passion is sustainability systems. She developed the first sustainability program for grape growers: Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW). Irina also grows wine grapes and produce wines at Inkwell with her husband Dudley Brown. Irina was the inaugural Viticulture recipient of the Women in Wine Award in 2015 and has just being featured as one of the world’s green leaders by the Wine Enthusiast magazine from the US. The new cellar door and accommodation Inkwell is about to open will be a benchmark in sustainability in wine tourism.
The director of international communications agency Lotus International, Monica Brown is renowned worldwide for her management work with some of the world’s biggest names in food including Heston Blumenthal, Tetsuya Wakuda, Rainer Becker, Alex Atala and Clare Smyth. Since launching the original company Lotus PR in 2000, the world of Lotus has grown from a one-woman start-up from a London kitchen to a fully- fledged communications agency at the forefront of the culinary industry, with offices in both the UK and Australia.
Monica has consulted on some of the world’s largest food events and festivals; including Oceana, Gelinaz and Margaret River Gourmet Escape. She has a strong portfolio of international multi media contacts and over 30 years of experience within the hospitality sector.
Having been dubbed the ‘nicest guy in hospitality’, maître d’ Cam Fairbairn started out in bars and clubs, then went to working with the crew from Pinbone at Woollahra, before opening ACME in 2014 alongside Mitch Orr, Ed Loveday and Andrew Emerson. Since opening the restaurant, Cam, has led the restaurant team to earning and maintaining a number of prestigious awards including Time Out Restaurant of the Year 2014, Good Food (one hat) 2015, 2016 & 2017. Cam’s high standard of restaurant service was recognised in 2015 when he was awarded the Good Food Guide Citi Service Excellence Award in 2015.
Bernice Colcomb has twenty-five years’ experience as a qualified Chef, with roles across a variety of cuisines and kitchen styles. Extending from fine dining to production kitchens, she has managed teams of over thirty-five, including the opening of the Harvest Buffet at The Star Sydney. It is her extensive experience which makes her a valuable advocate for youth of today in the culinary world.
Nowadays Bernice is a manager to over eighty Commercial Cookery Apprentices across The Star group including The Star Sydney, The Star Gold Coast & Treasury Brisbane. She mentors these Apprentices through the entire journey, from recruitment, kitchen rotation and placement, co-ordination of TAFE workshops, masterclasses and competitions, to their graduation and placement advancing their careers. Bernice also assists with the development of youths with a passion for cooking, via the coordination of culinary work placement opportunities for both school based and Vocational students across both states
After completing his Bachelor of Commerce Degree with a Marketing major, Luke spent 8 years in the corporate world, before being lured back to bartending where he found his true creative outlet in drinks and hospitality.
He was the winner World Class Australia in 2013 and used his $100,000 prize money to open TMBTP in 2015 which has won multiple awards since; including TimeOut 'Bar' and 'Cocktail Bar of the year' in 2017, along with 'Best International Cocktail Bar' and 'Best Bar' nominations for Tales of The Cocktail and Gourmet Traveller magazine respectively.
With a keen interest in food and dining, Luke's drinks tend to be influenced more by seasonality, produce and ingredients with spirits used as seasoning in the final drink rather than being the starting point.
Paige founded Coleman's Academy, the first national mentorship program for female bartenders in Australia in 2015. While managing the group ops for one of Sydney's most successful groups; Mary's Group (The Lansdowne, The Unicorn Hotel, Mary's CBD) Paige has also made Forbes '30 Under 30' list, was named the as the first female ALIA's Bartender of the Year in 2015 and was previously part of the management team at Sydney rum institution the The Lobo Plantation and Kittyhawk. Some of Paige's greatest work has been with the Coleman's Academy, a non-profit organisation helping women navigate and excel in, the largely male-dominated bar industry. Which she founded, runs and continues to grow nationally, with aspirations to strive globally.
With over 20 years’ experience in a wide range of hospitality venues in both Australia and England, Harriet heads up the Archie Rose hospitality team - responsible for the execution of drinks at events and in the venue.
An avid gin drinker from the time she could walk, and whisky from the time she could talk, Harriet brings a lifetime of self-described “connoisseurship” to the Archie Rose table. She can’t believe her luck that she gets to work in a distillery every day, although she is still miffed the distillers won’t let her swim in the gin. Nicknamed Mum by the bar team, she rules with an iron fist, although to the untrained eye it may look a lot like cat-wrangling - It’s not.
Lee Ho Fook
Evelyn (Ev) Liong has forged a distinguished career for herself as a hospitality professional in Melbourne. Over the last decade, she has worked as a barista, a cocktail bartender and a sommelier – of both whisky and wine – and managed a remarkable spectrum of successful cafes, bars and restaurants.
When Ev’s brother, Victor, one of Australia’s top up-and-coming chefs, asked for some help with his new Melbourne restaurant, Lee Ho Fook, Ev answered the call. She developed the drinks program for Lee Ho Fook, which had her creating unique drink matches to enhance Victor’s new-wave spin on the Chinese cuisine they’d both been raised on. Ev now works as a consultant to the whisky industry.