Peter Gilmore
Join executive chef Peter Gilmore for a trip to the Bellarine Peninsula.

HIGHLIGHTS

WATER MASTERCLASS

March 15, 9am-6pm; $825 per person including all food, drink and return transport from Melbourne.

It is one of the festival's headline annual events - the year's signature Masterclass.

Join Sydney's Peter Gilmore (Quay), England's Michelin-starred Nathan Outlaw (Restaurant Nathan Outlaw) and Melbourne's Aaron Turner (ex-Loam) for a full-day's trip to the Bellarine Peninsula taking in a dab of fly fishing, a class in smoking fish, and a boat trip encompassing exploration of locally grown mussels and oysters before a four-course lunch with matching wines. Places strictly limited.

Bank of Melbourne
WORLD'S LONGEST LUNCH

February 28, noon-3pm; $155 per person.

This year heralds a return to the beauty of the Alexandra Gardens for 1500 revellers who understand the pulling power of a 530-metre-long-table laid with food from a team of high calibre chefs: Stefano de Pieri (Stefano's, Mildura), Adam D'Sylva (Coda and Tonka, Melbourne) and recently retired Jacques Reymond (Jacques Reymond, Melbourne) - along with 1499 of your closest friends, of course.

LUCKY PEACH EVENT

March 7, 7pm-11pm; $120 per person includes set menu and matched beverages.

The publishing baby of New York super chef, David Chang (Momofuku, New York), Lucky Peach magazine is bringing its brand of inquiry, left-of-centre thinking and new wave ideas to Collingwood's Rockwell and Sons, where Sydney chef Dan Hong (Ms G's, El Loco, Mr Wong) and North Carolina-born, Melbourne-based Casey Wall (Rockwell and sons) will present a deliciously fun batch of eats, inspired by the magazine and hosted by its editor-in-chief, Chris Ying.

ON WATER: EIGHT SPEAKERS, EIGHT STORIES

6.15pm-7.30pm; $20 adult, $12 concession.

Dive in to this festival's theme at the Wheeler Centre where eight guests (including some top-notch food gurus) will bring together an evening of stories and reflections that explore and celebrate the human need of and interaction with water: an experience that is bit political, a little scientific, incredibly personal and ultimately as reflective as a lake's quiet surface.

BOOKINGS TAKEN (ONE NIGHT ONLY)

WATER, THE NECTAR OF LIFE

March 4, 6.30pm-10.30pm; $295.

Take the unprecedented opportunity to step into the development kitchen of George Calombaris, Press Club - Projects, alongside the lauded chef while he cooks an experimental 12-course menu, each course utilising different cooking techniques that are all involving water.

EAT OCEAN DRINK SUCCULENT

March 2, 6.30pm-10pm; $140

Skip the line as Mamasita opens its doors to bookings for this special night focused on the nectar of Mexico's native succulent (tequila, we're looking at you) alongside a seafood feast.

MITCH TONKS AT SIGLO

March 10, 12.30pm-4.30pm; $90.

He is a powerful advocate for the UK fishing industry and a consultant on sustainable practice, but its in his fishmonger and chef guise that Mitch Tonks will hit the Siglo rooftop with fellow Brit Ian Curley and seafood advocate John Susman for this seafood barbecue, held at what is customarily one of Melbourne's no-bookings-taken locations.

FESTIVAL FAVOURITES

LANGHAM MELBOURNE MASTERCLASS

Weekend, March 8-9, 10am-5pm; full day ticket $320, weekend ticket $595.

It's almost like a foodie university, where the lecturers are the world's top chefs, and the results are, well, delicious. You get to learn their techniques and ideas through the classes they give, often in fairly intimate surrounds, pick up a few top-flight recipes, and taste the results. This year's Masterclass weekend is set to explore the philosophy, techniques and craftsmanship of working with water on a global scale. Take your pick from four sessions each day across Chef Masterclass and Perfect Match (see below). Ticket pricing includes morning and afternoon tea, lunch served by The Langham, a gift bag and a copy of the Langham Melbourne Masterclass recipe book.

PERFECT MATCH

March 8-9, 10am-5pm; full day ticket $320, weekend ticket $595.

Top food and wine identities get together to debate questions, beliefs and ideal pairings over the delicious clatter of plates and clink of stemware. Think St Crispin's Scott Pickett and Yabby Lake's Tom Carson; chef Rosa Mitchell and winemaker Owen Latta (Eastern Peake) chef George Biron and winemaker Garry Crittenden; Gladioli's Matt Dempsey and local winemaker Nick Farr. Session bookings and ticket information mirrors Masterclass Weekend.

RESTAURANT EXPRESS

February 28-March 13; $40.

This festival classic sees some of Melbourne's most celebrated restaurants offering up fine food and wine at exceptional prices. This year there will be more than 70 venues from Brighton to Northcote offering a two-course lunch, glass of Victorian wine and tea or coffee for $40.

EXPERTS' CHOICE

Larissa Dubecki, senior food writer

Water Masterclass.

"It's great to see Aaron Turner back in the country after the sad closure of his restaurant Loam on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula. And who can say no to fresh oysters and seafood cooked up by some of Australia and the world's top seafood chefs, including Rick Stein alumnus Nathan Outlaw."

Andrew McConnell, chef and restaurateur

Angel Leon, Aponiente, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain.

"For me it's exciting to hear of a chef who sees the challenge and beauty in using the produce of his place to create a unique and beautiful brand of cuisine."

Jill Dupleix, columnist

I love the idea of The Immersery & Raingarden (the festival's Yarra bank hub), and can't wait to immerse myself. The Battle of the Somms will be to the death and I love Perfect Match exploring Geoff Lindsay's Vietnamese flavours from Dandelion with Mike Aylward's Ocean Eight Winery.