A feast of knowledge

Reimagine the future of food in our city when an innovative cafe and restaurant pops up at Meat Market this Melbourne Knowledge Week.

The North Melbourne venue will offer unique lunches and workshops by day and futuristic dinner parties of three to seven courses by night, designed to inspire the senses and the mind.

Ben McMenamin, Food Curator for the events, said the restaurant will use the dining model to share knowledge and spark conversations around some of society’s biggest challenges.

‘Each of the events will tell a different story about knowledge and sustainability,’ Ben said.

‘The first dinner of the festival will take diners on an interactive historical adventure through food technology, from pre-fire starters to high-tech desserts.

‘Another event will highlight some cutting edge chefs exploring underutilised ingredients and highlighting issues in the food industry around health and wellbeing.

‘There will also be a zero waste dinner, where the food served has been diverted from landfill.’

Like all Melbourne Knowledge Week events, a key aim of the pop-up venue is to engage the local community, inviting diverse people to get hands on, share ideas and help co-create our future city.

One of the events at the restaurant will be a ‘recipe club’ for local residents, presented in the style of a pot-luck, communal dinner.

‘Everyone will bring a plate of food that means something to them and its recipe. During the dinner people will have the chance to share with the group why the dish is important to them,’ Ben said.

‘We’ll also set up a photo booth so all the food can be photographed and compiled into a recipe book. It’s all about storytelling, and sharing knowledge through food and food culture.’

In addition to being a top chef, Ben has a degree in environmental science and has spent recent years finding ways to combine his skills to create positive change.

He is now the Founder of the Social Food Project, which aims to create a more connected food systems through interactive events, and the Head Chef at Grub Food Van in Fitzroy.

Recently, he also released a free app called We Eat Local, which rewards people for going to restaurants and cafes that serve local food.

‘Some of my fondest memories are going down into the garden with my dad as a kid and pulling out vegetables or feeding the chooks, so I’ve always been passionate about food and the environment,’ Ben said.

‘My hope for the future is that we have greater transparency and democracy in the food system, meaning more small scale producers feeding their communities, and a more complex and resilient web of production, distribution and consumption.

‘I would also like to see people engaging with more indigenous food, not just because it is super nutritious and delicious, but also because it connects us to our history and cultural identities.’

Ben encouraged all Melburnians to get involved in the events and activities on offer during Melbourne Knowledge Week.

‘People don’t make decisions purely based on facts – they make them based on emotions, memories and experiences,’ Ben said.

‘So we’re creating experiences where people can have those light bulb moments. That is a powerful way to create change.’

Last year, Melbourne Knowledge Week presented 90 events and attracted an audience of more than 13,000 people.

‘We’re creating experiences where people can have those light bulb moments.’

This year, the festival will again celebrate our brightest minds and biggest dreams through a vibrant program of lectures, games, maker spaces, parties and much more.

To find out more, visit at Melbourne Knowledge Week.


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