Nigella Lawson to headline bumper Melbourne Food and Wine Festival program

Nigella Lawson is one of the headline acts at this year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Nigella Lawson is one of the headline acts at this year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Photo: Supplied

After two years marred by cancellations, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival returns this autumn with a bumper program for 2022, its 30th anniversary. Big names include British television star and writer Nigella Lawson, Hong Kong chef Jowett Yu, who will cook at Nomad, Sichuan food expert Fuchsia Dunlop, and London-based Australian Skye Gyngell (ex-Petersham Nurseries, Spring), who will return to pop up at Hazel.

"One of the really cheering things has been how excited our guests are to come to Melbourne," says MFWF creative director Pat Nourse. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

The festival dreamt big this year, enlisting Attica's Ben Shewry for the signature World's Longest Lunch for 2000 guests on March 25. Queen Victoria Market is the hub for lighthearted join-the-crowd events such as Snacktown, a weekend-long showcase of key Melbourne small bites (March 26-27), and The Big Spaghetti, a kid-friendly pasta party (April 2-3).

Ben Shewry will prepare lunch for 2000 at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival curtain-raiser, the World's Longest ...
Ben Shewry will prepare lunch for 2000 at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival curtain-raiser, the World's Longest Lunch, in the Treasury Garden on March 25. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Special dinners include Greenstone and Gold, in which Minyunbal woman and food activist Arabella Douglas will partner with Christine Manfield on March 29 at Rockpool Bar & Grill to explore pre-colonisation trade along Australia's east coast, and Flame on, a dinner exploring China's more fiery cuisines at Spice Temple with Sichuan food authority Fuchsia Dunlop on March 30.

Lawson will be in conversation with former MasterChef co-host Matt Preston during the three-course lunch on Sunday, March 27.

After more than three years in the job, it's the first time Nourse will roll out a full program. The festival was cancelled in 2020; there was a truncated March edition in 2021, including a joyous Longest Lunch for 1600 at Treasury Gardens, but the larger winter program was a victim to lockdown.

Skye Gyngell returns from London to cook at Melbourne's Hazel.
Skye Gyngell returns from London to cook at Melbourne's Hazel. Photo: Amber Rowlands

"Feeling all the feels right now," says Nourse. "Excitement, relief, joy – some of the curve-balls that the summer has thrown at events and hospitality have kept us on our toes, but now the nerves are feeling more like anticipation. We can't wait to bring this program to life."

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from March 25 to April 9. 

Pre-sale tickets have gone on sale to MFWF subscribers today and are available to the public from 10am on Thursday.  Full program: mfwf.com.au