The Epicure Munchie Awards 2013
Who won at Epicure's annual Munchies Awards? Photo: Edwina Pickles
The Michael Pollan award for services to meat
Half the world was on the paleo diet, meat was grown in a lab and a complete food substitute called Soylent emerged from the shadows of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. New adventures in protein were led, in Sydney, by Kylie Kwong (the Billy Kwong menu featured mealworms, ants and scorpions) - and closer to home, Matt Stone from Silo fired up the deep fryer for cricket bar snacks. A one-off, for now, but hopefully they'll be on the regular menu next year.
The man about town award
Who will win at the annual Munchie Awards? Photo: Edwina Pickles
To Gerald's Bar/Brooks' Gerald Diffey, who is not only rocking some of the finest tailor-made suits seen this side of Savile Row, but has been moonlighting as the style-meister for the likes of South Melbourne's Bellota and the coming St Arnaud pub.
The Les Murray award for poetic licence
To anyone indulging in piss-taking menu references to mass-produced ingredients: Heinz spaghetti, Golden Days crumpets, Coco Pops and Maggi seasoning. Chinglish made its debut as an official language at Happy Palace. Also trending: rude words on menus (e.g. ''f---ing good baked beans''). Not safe for the children's menu.
The Jean-Paul Sartre award for food-related existential debate
The coffee Nazis took one step closer to world domination this year, with soy milk added to the list of things verboten in your daily heart-starter. Skim milk was also on the outer, and you can forget that extra-froth stuff that rode the cappuccino wave - now any barista worth his/her tatts will be all over their small-producer organic, unhomogenised milk.
The holding up a mirror to society award
Eddie Perfect's MTC play The Beast put the spotlight on upwardly mobile food affectations and didn't forget to name-check Epicure.
The DIY award
Baking your own bread is so five minutes ago. Now you're not trying if you're not milling your own grains (Hawthorn Common), culturing your own butter (Pei Modern, Back Street Eating), or making the plates yourself (Dave Verheul, the Town Mouse).
The silk purse, sow's ear award
Pig's ears are turning up crumbed, deep-fried and in terrines, robbing Fido of his favourite treat.
The tell us how you really feel award
To Frank Camorra, whose speech at MoVida's 10th birthday celebrations included the immortal line ''f--- fine dining''.
Drink of the year
Coconut water. It's the new coffee.
The Next Stop, Door Bitch award
To ice-cream shops. Queues to get in; crowds lingering out front; electro beats; full of people getting high (on sugar).
The Kath and Kim look-at-moi award
Everything came with a side of spectacle: extrusion machines (pasta made on-site at Etto and noodles at Shimbashi and Shop Ramen); chocolate-making (East Elevation); grilling (most Koreans); hand-mills to roll oats (Hawthorn Common); roasters at any coffee joint worth its weight in beards. But the award goes to N2 Extreme Gelato on Brunswick Street, with servers behind plumes of liquid nitrogen as they make to order.
The Stephen Hawking award for a planetary shift
This year it became Huxtaburger's world.
The Jamie Oliver celebrity chef support group award
To SBS. This year there were more chefs working for the Special Broadcasting Service than not.
The ''nothing to see here'' award for courage under fire
To the Royal Mail Hotel, which pretended the departure of chef Dan Hunter was a complete yawn. ''It's not really a big deal,'' sales and marketing manager Marc Horner told Fairfax. ''Obviously it's a slight blow but not one that we are too stressed about.''
The Ashton Kutcher award for best use of social media
Seriously, what's not to love about the anonymous, poorly spelled, grammatically incorrect, invective-filled and Randomly CAPITALISED posts on UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor? Restaurateurs and cafe owners are fighting back, calling for more accountability and transparency from online review sites, but it cuts both ways, guys: plenty of places get mysteriously ''liked'' before the doors even swing open.
The third time lucky award
To George Sykiotis, who turned Canvas into the Brit-leaning Chester White, reinvented it as Italian cantina Orto and has now remade Orto into something ''dramatically different'' called Hawthorn Common. All in the space of two years.
The John Farnham comeback award
The Aylesbury was turned into Bomba; Trocadero was turned into Fatto. And then there was Mercy Bar and Eatery, which closed a mere six weeks after being reinvented from Virginia Plain. But the year of dumbing down - er, going mass market - was really led by Made establishment and its souvlaki and Hellenic Republic-led business model reappraisal.
The overhyped award
Prohibition-themed bars. Wagyu (is there anyone still farming non-wagyu beef?). But the award goes to … the slider. It's the onesie of food. Bye-bye.
The Cecil B. DeMille award for cinematic greatness
To Ben Shewry and the team from Attica, whose moody black-and-white masterpiece, What Grows in the Garden, is a morality tale for any chef intent on world domination. Check it out here.
The quiet achiever award
To Melbourne-raised David Loh, the founder of Bubble Cup, owner of booming Asian dessert bar franchise Dessert Story, plus Food Republik, Taiwan Cafe and Rice Workshop. Who? Exactly.
The special K award
To kale, which is due to reach critical leafy green mass next year (going by the edict that what's hot in New York will assume a similar hotness in Melbourne).
And to Korean, which has been threatening to trend for about five years. Epicure tips 2014 will be the year of Korean, helped in no small part by the Chris Lucas fairy-dust at his impending Richmond restaurant, Kong.
The bogeyman award
To gluten. Apparently it's responsible for global warming, Clive Palmer and the breakdown of civilisation as we know it.
The specialists award
Small and single-minded ruled the day. Dessert specialists (hello, Adriano Zumbo, and Om Nom at the Adelphi Hotel), ramen fanatics and gelati gurus focused fanatically on their food obsessions. But the award goes to … cheese. From Con Christopoulos' amazing Spring Street Cheese Cellar to Milk the Cow and the coming La Formaggeria, we haven't seen so much cheese since The Voice.
The Alien vs Predator award for best mash-up
The cronut got all the headlines when the addictive half-croissant, half-doughnut was the subject of an intellectual property tug-of-love that forced local adopter MoVida bakery to rebadge it the dossant. But the fun didn't stop there. The year was bursting with weird Frankenfood mash-ups, from the ramen burger (with fried ramen noodles as the bun) to Adriano Zumbo's chouxmacas (choux bun macarons). And then the cronut burger was born. Enough, already.
The Frank Sinatra award for doing it his way
To Jacques Reymond. In 27 years in The Age Good Food Guide, he slipped to two hats just once and departs the restaurant world with a near-perfect score of 80 chefs' hats. Au revoir, chef, and thanks for the memories.
The Anthony Bourdain award for hubris
To Time magazine and its cover featuring David Chang, Rene Redzepi and Alex Atala having a group cuddle. It couldn't find a single female chef to include in its breathless coverage of the ''Gods of Food''.
And the rest …
It was the year of the smoker: breakfast sides, meats … if you can hold it, you can smoke it. Honorary mention to the jam jar as a cocktail glass; double down if you serve your food on army-surplus shop enamel plates. Puffed grains were one of the few survivors of the molecular movement. Beef cheek took over from pork belly, while the beetroot/goat's cheese combo finished the marathon and went around for its lap of honour. Coffee hit its straps as a cooking ingredient. But the surprise food hero of the year was popcorn. From Pierre Roelofs' popcorn soup to Gazi's popcorn washed rum drink and Piqueos' pork fat popcorn bar-snack, we had it. And it was good.
With Roslyn Grundy, Nina Rousseau, Simone Egger and Janne Apelgren