Karen Martini, Joost Bakker, Dani Valent and Otto Dal Zotto were among the names added to Melbourne Food & Wine Festival's Legends Hall of Fame today, an annual peer-nominated celebration of Victoria's food and drink industry and the individuals who drive it forward.
"It's great to have a full venue every night or to be selling out on the shelves," says Daisy Slade, the Festival's industry lead. "But when you're recognised for your hard work or innovation by the people that work alongside you or are even your competition, it really shines a light on how supportive this industry is."
Since 1993, the awards have recognised chefs, winemakers, food producers, educators and others who have set a high watermark over a career spanning at least 15 years, with an additional category for up-and-coming talent.
That award went to chef and restaurateur Jung Eun Chae who, until recently, offered rarefied Korean tasting menus to six diners at a time in her Brunswick apartment. A new location in the Dandenong Ranges will allow her to further develop her skills in ancient Korean fermentation.
For the first time in 2021, a sustainability champion was named: Joost Bakker, whose Future Food System is the latest project in more than a decade of waste-conscious dining initiatives that includes Greenhouse and Silo.
Co-founder of RedBeard Historic Bakery in Trentham, the late John Reid, was recognised as a local hero for his efforts to preserve artisan breadmaking and grain milling methods. He passed away in September.
"Future generations will all learn something from the contributions these people have made," said Slade of this year's nominees.
Nominations come from previously crowned legends and others working across food and drink and are assessed by a panel of legends and Festival staff. Chefs Alla Wolf-Tasker and Stefano di Peri, winemakers Dominique Portet and Garry Crittenden, and Syd Weddell of The Essential Ingredient are part of the 160 individuals who make up the Legends Hall of Fame.
The full list of 2021 Legends
Chef/restaurateur/hospitality professional – Karen Martini (Hero, Mr Wolf)
Food producer/retailer/advocate – Sharon Flynn (The Fermentary)
Drink producer/retailer/advocate – Otto Dal Zotto (Dal Zotto Wines)
Communicator/educator – Dani Valent (The Age, Dirty Linen, freelance)
Local hero – John Reid (RedBeard Historic Bakery)
Hostplus Trailblazer – Jung Eun Chae (Chae)
Sustainability Champion – Joost Bakker (Future Food System)