IT’S VICTORIA’S largest annual community event — attracting half a million people over its 11 days — where the state celebrates all that’s great about our dynamic agriculture sector.
Of course, the Royal Melbourne Show is also about fun — and, importantly, food.
With pop-ups from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, masterclasses by our favourite chefs, samples of award-winning fare from some of the state’s finest producers — as well as the odd Dagwood dog or two — this year’s Show is a feast of food with something for all tastes.
But where to start? Here’s our guide to a day’s great eating.
The Show opens at 10am so head straight to MFC Roasters at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Deli in the Winning Tastes Pavilion. MFC Roasters has created a seasonal blend especially for the Show, and will also be serving their organic roast and “capital roast” blends, both gold-medal winners at the Australian International Coffee Awards.
Suitably caffeinated, head over to the Country Women’s Association Kitchen and try one of their famous scones with strawberry jam and cream for morning tea. The CWA ladies have delighted Show visitors with their delicious scones for more than 70 years and will bake more than 5000 during the 11 days of the Show.
The Winning Tastes pavilion, located on the MasterChef set, is the main foodie hub of this year’s Show, and those with children should head here at 11am for interactive cooking activities with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation or MasterChef’s Alice Zaslavsky and Emma Dean.
For the adults, there will be cooking demonstrations every hour on the hour from Victoria’s top chefs, including Daniel Wilson (Huxtable), Ian Curley (The European), Joe Grbac (St Crispin), Michael Ryan (Provenance), Josh Murphy (Builders Arms), Raymond Capaldi, Nick Stanton (Leonard’s) and Joseph Abboud (Rumi).
For lunch, the rotating pop-up eateries at the Winning Tastes Pavilion will be serving some of their famous dishes, as well as some special inclusions for Showgoers.
Joesph Abboud from Rumi will bring a taste of the Middle East to the Show from Sept 19 until Sept 22. The menu will include classic Rumi Persian meatballs served with saffron and tomato sauce and a selection of Rumi’s famous hummus.
“We’ll be serving three different plates of hummus,” Joseph says. “One will be topped with spiced mince chicken, one with minced prawn, one vegetarian.” And what is Joseph’s secret to the perfect hummus? “Cook the chickpeas, keep them warm and as close to eating as possible whip it up,” he says.
“We’ll be doing the Rudi burger, so it’s just the right size for the kids to enjoy,” Daniel Wilson says, whose famous Huxtaburger wagyu burgers will be served from Sept 23 to Sept 26.
A Huxtable tasting plate will also be offered. “It will feature producers we’ve been supporting over the years, Western Plains pork in our Korean bbq pork ribs, as well as our Sher wagyu rendang spring rolls,” he says.
For the final three days of the show, Ian Curley from the City Wine Shop will be serving up cheese dishes and charcuterie platters all to be washed down with a glass of wine.
After all those savoury treats, it’s time for something sweet, and the best place for a sugar hit is the Winning Tastes Dessert Bar. The dessert bar will be serving macarons and more from Adriano Zumbo on the first seven days, followed by Bibelot on the final four days.
“We’ll have all 12 flavours of our macarons there,” Zumbo says. “Our most popular flavours are salted caramel on toast, and salted popcorn but all will be available.”
Nicknamed the “dark lord of pastry” by MasterChef judge Matt Preston, Zumbo says it will be good to be back on the MasterChef set during the show.
On the last four days, South Melbourne’s newest dessert boutique that’s seen queues out the door since it opened earlier this year, Bibelot, will be serving a stunning range of eclairs, their already-iconic mango yuzu mousse cakes as well as chocolate bars and jars of salted caramel to grab for home.
Wander down to the Art, Craft and Cookery Pavilion and check out the award-winning decorated cake displays, followed by a visit to the Dilmah Tea House for an afternoon tea break. It’s also the place to check out crochet king ChiliPhilly’s food hat designs that have made him such an internet sensation. Queen Fine Foods and Cupcake Central will be teaching the tricks of the trade for decorating and creating the perfect cupcake, while expert Ann Marston will share her secrets to the perfect preserves.
Take a stroll through Eat Street, located inside the Woolworths Grand Pavilion. This is the biggest exhibition space at the show and is the place to head for food from around the globe.
If you’re feeling like a snack, there are more than 25 eateries to choose from. Try a Dutch pancake, Turkish gozleme, or a Viennese gourmet sausage before finishing with some Spanish churros, a Belgium waffle or a nitrogen-frozen ice cream.
Just a little bit peckish? A $2 cheese toastie might do the trick, but for those slightly hungrier, a slice of Scoozi pizza – the only Australian restaurant certified by both Neapolitan pizza associations – is a true slice of heaven.
At the Brew Bar and BBQ, located outside of the Winning Tastes Pavilion, beer educator and judge, Prof Pilsner (aka Pete Mitcham), will take guests on an informative but lighthearted stroll through the history, flavours and tastes of beer styles from around the world. Meet the brewers and learn some of the secrets of the world’s oldest drink. While you’re there, sample a delish range of beers and ciders from top craft breweries on rotation, including Blackman’s Brewery, Hawkers Beer, Napoloeone, Hawthorn Brewing, Mr Little Cider, Southern Bay Brew Co, Bright Brewery, Grandridge Brewery and Harcourt Cider.
And if you’re still feeling peckish, check out Brew Bar and BBQ residents Burn City Smokers with their brisket bun with Burn City BBQ sauce, or for the kids, a mini pulled pork bun. Or hit up Henrietta’s Chicken Shop for some of the best roast chook around – free range and coal-roasted.
Stop at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Deli and pick up a deli bag containing award-winning produce from Royal Melbourne Fine Food Award medal winners, including cheese, dips, olives and crackers.
The Winning Tastes pavilion is open from 10am-6pm daily (courtyard open until 6.30pm)
The Royal Melbourne Show runs from Sat until Sept 29. A Ticket to Taste includes Show entry, a $20 meal card and $5 off the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Deli bag for $49 ($11 saving, not available at the gate). Tickets from royalshow.com.au/tickets.