Sheree Sullivan owns a cheese-making business in the Adelaide Hills and her day-to-day life is a long way from the glitz and glamour of The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards.
But Sullivan's business Udder Delights is one of those slated to benefit from Australia hosting The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards in Melbourne on 5 April 2017.
The awards ceremony will be attended by more than 200 international media and 850 guests including the influential academy chairs of The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Following the ceremony Sullivan will host four of the influential academy chairs for two days taking them through a cheese masterclass.
"I'll be showing them some exclusive cheeses including Australia's only raw milk blue cheese," Sullivan says.
The inside story of how Australia secured the awards
It is only the second time the awards have been held outside London (last year the event was in New York) and securing the ceremony has been hailed as a coup for Australia.
This is the Oscars of food. It's like us winning a Summer Olympics of sport. We think it's a pretty modest price to pay.John O'Sullivan
What started as a series of discussions between Tourism Australia and William Reed, which owns the World's 50 Best Restaurants, has culminated in Tourism Australia paying $800,000 to host the awards.
John O'Sullivan, head of Tourism Australia, says it's money well spent.
"This is the Oscars of food," he says. "It's like us winning a Summer Olympics of sport. We think it's a pretty modest price to pay."
Hosting the World's 50 Best restaurants forms part of Tourism Australia's ongoing Restaurant Australia campaign. The worldwide campaign positions Australia on the basis of its food and wine story and has included the Invite the World To Dinner event at MONA in 2012 and Noma's residency in Sydney in 2016.
"We thought 'What's the next thing we can do on a large scale to really promote our food and wine around the world?'" O'Sullivan says. "Fortuitously for us William Reed was really open to taking the event on the road, traditionally it has always been based in London. They only wanted to go to a destination with a really good food and wine story."
The world's top chefs, media and the World's 50 Best academy chairs will spend three days in Melbourne in the lead up to the awards and then will be taken around the country for two weeks.
"This will again provide restaurateurs and broader food and wine industry to display their wares in front of the academy chairs," O'Sullivan says. "The reason behind bringing people to Australia is our research shows once you have been to Australia you have a completely different perception of food and wine here to what you had before you came. Food and wine is such a key driver in international travel."
Tourism Australia's targets are to grow international visitation by 7 per cent and spend from $115 billion to $140 billion by 2020.
"The tourism sector is an SME sector if you look at the sector as a whole it is made up of a lot of small and medium enterprises besides the outliers like Qantas and Crown," O'Sullivan says. "If we get this right with international visitation and spend, not only restaurants but also people wanting to sample products through the farm gate and cellar door will benefit."
The magazine award that became a worldwide phenomenon
Until 2002 the World's 50 Best restaurants didn't exist. But the editor and staff of the small British trade magazine, Restaurant, did a quick poll of a small group of restaurants and critics and a phenomenon was born.
Despite the absurdity of attempting to compare and rank millions of restaurants around the world the brilliant simplicity of the list made it an instant hit.
"Soon afterwards, an awards night was established to celebrate the results and so was born one of the most extraordinary gatherings of chefs on the planet," says William Drew, group editor of The World's 50 Best Restaurants at William Reed.
The World's 50 Best Restaurants has now eclipsed the magazine that spawned it and Restaurant is no longer associated with the event.
Drew won't reveal the details of what William Reed was paid to host the awards in New York but says it resulted in over US$73 million worth of coverage with a reach of 13,476,821,864.
"With any of the 50 Best events, it's a huge opportunity for tourism as it drives awareness of the culinary, cultural and hospitality scene in each locality," he says.
Like a lightbulb being switched on
One small business to feel the very real effects of The World's 50 Best Restaurants is Melbourne's Attica restaurant, which is ranked 33rd on the list.
"It was a light bulb being switched on – thousands of new customers descended upon us," owner and chef Ben Shewry says of the moment when Attica was first included in The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Sheree Sullivan hopes the impact on her business will also be positive.
Udder Delights turns over between $5 million and $7 million a year and employs 50 staff but Sullivan is looking to grow further.
"Tourism Australia has pitched at the highest level of influencer and hopefully it will trickle down the ladder to everyone," she says. "I'm impressed they've aimed that high."
Fairfax Events is co-producing The World's 50 Best Restaurants event.