Speaker profiles 2015

We’re very proud of this year’s speaker line up. So many interesting speakers, so much to say.

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Martin Benn and Vicki Wild

Martin Benn and Vicki Wild have had a great year. Martin was named Australian Financial Review and Australian Gourmet Traveller Chef of The Year, The Weekend Australian Magazine’s Hottest Chef of the Year and, at the invitation of chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, this culinary power couple took their team to New York to showcase Sepia to New York’s influential food media. The accolades are not new: Benn, Wild and their restaurant Sepia have not been out of the limelight since opening in 2009. They have picked up The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year three times – in 2012, 2014 and 2015 – and have three Chefs Hats. Benn’s book, Sepia – The Cuisine of Martin Benn was published by Murdoch Books in 2014.


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Gay Bilson

For many years Gay Bilson owned and cooked at Berowra Waters Inn, then one of Australia’s most influential and acclaimed restaurants. She has written much about food and gastronomy, contributing articles and columns to major newspapers such as The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald, and to magazines as diverse as Artlink and Divine. She collaborated on meals at public venues, incorporating ideas of theatre and performance and community, for the Adelaide Festival of the Arts, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and The Performance Space in Sydney. In 2003 she was an Asialink Literature Resident in Sri Lanka, where her research had a broadly gastronomic focus. Her book titles include Plenty: Digressions in Food (Penguin Books) and On Digestion, a Little Books on Big Themes series published by Melbourne University Press.

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Noëlle Janaczewska

A graduate of Oxford and London Universities, with a doctorate from UTS, much of Noëlle Janaczewska’s work explores history’s gaps and silences, focusing on people, plants, creatures and events overlooked or marginalised in official records. Produced, broadcast and published throughout Australia and overseas, she is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably a 2014 Windham Campbell Prize from Yale University, which recognised her body of theatrical writing. Food and the various rituals and practices that surround it are recurring themes in Noëlle’s writing. Her plays and radio scripts have explored wedding cakes, kimch’i, Spam, and the perils of dating a terrible cook. Recent research in environmental history has added a botanical dimension to her interest in matters culinary. Noëlle’s nonfiction feature My Life in Cookbooks for ABC Radio National won a 2014 Australian Writers’ Guild Award.

noelle-janaczewska.com and eatthetable.com

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Hilary Burden

Hilary Burden is a Tasmanian-based writer, columnist, and broadcaster. Her memoir A Story of Seven Summers – Life In The Nuns’ House (Allen & Unwin) tells the story of how she came about buying a historic, ramshackle Nun’s Cottage, becoming custodian of two alpacas (named Jack and Kerouac) and providore of local produce. During a career in magazine publishing spanning two decades, Hilary worked at Cosmopolitan and ELLE in London, and helped launch the BBC food title Olive. Craving space and fresh air, Hilary returned to Tasmania 10 years ago to live in an old convent school on two acres, not far from where she grew up. While looking after her garden and smallholding she continues to write regularly for TasWeekend, Country Style magazine and The Guardian.


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Lee Tran Lam

Lee Tran Lam is a Sydney writer who runs The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry blog and podcast. She has written for various publications over the years (including a stint as The Sydney Morning Herald’s cafe reviewer and as contributor to Good Food Guide) and is definitely guilty of taking photos of her food. Lee Tran also hosts Local Fidelity on FBi radio, and has been making zines for the last 18 years (at a slowcoach rate); her latest was a zine of short-ish fiction called A Library Card Is Not A Licence To Romance.


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Anthony Huckstep

Anthony Huckstep is the restaurant critic and columnist for delicious., The Australian, QANTAS magazine, GQ Australia and co-founder of MetalMouth – an annual dinner paying homage to great food and heavy metal. He spent 13 years editing the award-winning hospitality industry foodService magazine and kept the last notch on his belt under official notice reviewing for The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide over many years. He also penned Luke Mangan’s book The Making of a Chef and the narrative for Sepia – The Cuisine of Martin Benn.

@anthuckstep and @huckstergram

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John Newton

“An extremely thin Vogue lady once said of and to me, ‘Oh, you’re the man who does too many things.’ Guilty as charged. Although career prospects demand pigeon holing I refuse to be stuffed in a hole. Not yet anyway. In my time I have taught Creative Thinking and Writing About Food, took over The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food’s Short Black column from Leo Schofield, was the founding editor of The Fin colour section of the Australian Financial Review, written a book on the history of whaling, A Savage History (University NSW Press), another on plants, The Roots of Civilisation (Murdoch Books), co-authored three books with Stefano Manfredi, written two novels (read the second The Man Who Painted Women). And that’s just the tip of the Icy Pole. This year, I was awarded a Doctor of Creative Arts by thesis at UTS. And in reply to the thin Vogue lady, her magazine named me as one of the visionaries who made Australian food what it is today.”


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Jean-Paul Bruneteau

A French-Australian chef and author, Jean-Paul Bruneteau is credited with playing a pioneering role in the development of an authentic Australian cuisine based on indigenous ingredients. He created his bush food repertoire at Rowntrees in Hornsby from 1984 to 1991 and then Riberries in Darlinghurst. Jean-Paul was awarded a gold medal for The Most Original Cuisine at the second International Cooking Festival held in Tokyo, Japan in 1988, where he created his signature dish, rolled wattleseed pavlova and used banksia cones to hot smoke water buffalo fillets on the roof of the hotel school hosting the competition. His ideas and culinary experiences with native food ingredients were published in Tukka, Real Australian Food, which was the first Australian cookbook to be awarded The Julia Child Award. Jean-Paul has also run Australian-themed restaurants in Paris.

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Jacqui Newling

As resident gastronomer at Sydney Living Museums, and project curator for their Eat Your History initiatives, Jacqui uses food to bring historical stories to life and add flavour to intangible histories. Jacqui hosts regular colonial gastronomy programs, including themed dining events and Talk, Tour and Taste workshops, and is the cook in The Cook and the Curator blog. Jacqui is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Masters in Gastronomy and continues post-grad studies in history, researching food ways in first colonial settlement with Sydney University. Her book, Eat Your History: stories and recipes from Australian kitchens, is due for release in December 2015.

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Francesca Newby

Francesca Newby has written about food for television, magazines, newspapers, publishing and in the digital sphere. Her first baking triumph was a fairy castle birthday cake, her first real job was as a cake chef in Tokyo, and her first paid piece of writing was an article on chutney. In the last six months she has written more recipe descriptions than she’s had hot dinners and been alternately inspired, horrified and amused by the insight into Australian food history afforded by trawling through the Australian Women’s Weekly‘s recipe archive. At Food & Words, Francesca will bring some of her insights, recipe stories and the times to life. A talk, no doubt, that will inspire, horrify and amuse.

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Michael Rantissi

Chef Michael Rantissi grew up in Tel Aviv, watching his mum cook and feasting on the multi-cultural offerings of his neighbourhood. He did his professional training in Israel at Tadmor College and then studied at the EPI Academy in Paris, then the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in New York. In 2005 he arrived in Australia where he joined the restaurant kitchen at Bathers Pavilion. He opened Kepos Street Kitchen in partnership with his partner and ‘balaboosta’ Aussie girl Kristy Frawley in 2012. Kristy’s hospitality skills were gained at Le Meridien Piccadilly in London, The Regent in Sydney and Bathers Pavilion, where she has worked since 1999. This year, the couple opened Kepos & Co and their first book Falafel for Breakfast (Murdoch Books) is out in September. Michael is collaborating with Bistro Mint on the food for Food & Words.


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Carolyn Lockhart

Carolyn Lockhart trained at the National Art School in Sydney and worked as a graphic designer before moving overseas to pursue a creative career in fashion, food and journalism. On her returning to Australia in the 1970s, Carolyn became editor of Vogue Entertaining +Travel, a new magazine that encouraged and celebrated the emerging Australian food culture. In 1990 she joined ACP to edit and re-launch Australian Gourmet Traveller. Carolyn continues to write about travel and food and has also returned to her first love, painting. She paints the everyday things that bring her joy – flowers, fruit, vegetables and food on a plate. Carolyn’s Kitchen Paintings will be on exhibit at Food & Words.


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Phil Ferguson

Melbourne-based textile artist Phil Ferguson has been creating crochet hats and posting them on social media platform Instagram with an overwhelmingly positive response since 2014. Making food hats was Phil’s way of connecting and making new friends in a new city. He now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and stories about his work have appeared in Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Frankie, BBC World Series and on Instagram’s account itself. Phil will talk about his crochet and his hats will be on show.