Epicure 20th anniversary dinner

When a food and wine publication holds a birthday bash, you just know the evening is going to be rather special, particularly when six top chefs write the menu.

Melbourne's Age newspaper features the Epicure section every Tuesday. It's a favourite read for me with talented contributors, columnists and reviewers maintaining a consistently interesting content embracing recipes, gossip, new products, food and wine stories, forthcoming events. No surprise, then, that it has been a feature of the Melbourne scene for 20 years.

It might have been pouring down outside the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria but things were already warming up inside when we arrived. The Moet - selected by the evening's sommelier Ben Edwards - was flowing and the first of the evening's taste delights were being passed around.

Canapes by Brigitte Hafner
Muscovy Duck and Kurobuta (pork) Rillettes
Marron with Tobikko (flying fish roe)
Fried Baccala
Wild Mushroom Tartlet with Creme Fraiche
Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV

Brigitte (pictured left being interviewed during the evening by Epicure editor Kylie Walker) has worked with some of Victoria's best Italian chefs, including Guy Grossi and Stefano de Pieri and her recipes regularly appear in Epicure. She runs the Gertrude Street Enoteca with partner James Broadway.


The tables sparkled with glassware, and mirror vases holding bright tulips, and the stained glass ceiling glittered above. It was a splendid venue for the sell-out occasion. And the fun was just beginning for the 250 guests.


First course by Stephanie Alexander

Autumn salad with walnuts, spices,
quinces and sugar-cured duck breast
Ocean Eight Pinot Gris 2004
from the Mornington Peninsular, Victoria

Stephanie Alexander OA is an internationally celebrated cook, restaurateur, food writer and author. She ran the acclaimed Stephanie's restaurant for 21 years till its closure in 1997. These days she spends much of her time on the Kitchen Garden Foundation where young people learn about good food.


Second course by Stefano de Pieri
Quail ravioli with sage butter and parmesan
Chateau Tahbilk '1927 Vines' Marsanne, 1998
Goulburn Valley, Victoria



Stefano de Pieri runs Stefano's, located in the Mildura Grand Hotel. It is one of only four Victoria country eating establishments to be awarded two hats in the current Age Good Food Guide. Stefano established the annual Mildura Arts Festival and has written several cookbooks.


Third course by Jacques Reymond
Tasmanian Atlantic salmon mariniere with
spicy cucumber and a kaffir lime dressing
De Bortoli 'Yarra Valley' Pinot Noir



Jacques Reymond's restaurant bears his name and has won many awards for its cuisine, service and wine list. At his restaurant he combines French technique with the finest Australian produce and Asian influences in great dishes of brilliance, varied taste and sophistication.


Fourth Course by Greg Malouf
Bistayeea - Morocco's celebrated pigeon pie with almonds, sweet spices and a white cabbage salad
Mt Langi Ghiran 'Cliff Edge' Shiraz 2002
Grampians, Victoria



Greg Malouf, restaurateur and author, is regarded as one of Australia's most innovative chefs. He has been credited with influencing and introducing a generation of chefs and diners to the flavours, tastes and textures of the Middle East. He is the chef at MoMo and his latest book Saha is a feast in itself.


Dessert by Philippa Sibley
Circa Snickers
Campbells Classic Rutherglen Muscat
Rutherglen, Victoria



Philippa Sibley was co-owner of Melbourne's est est est and Ondine and has earned a reputation as one of the finest pastry and dessert chefs in the city. She is now working at Circa, the Prince.


Petits fours: Brunetti's
Bread: Baker D Chirico


The dinner was very much a co-operative effort with the chefs helping each other. I took the opportunity to pay a brief visit to the kitchen during the evening and found Brigitte Hafner assisting Philippa Sibley with her dessert (right).



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