We ask Yasmeen Richards, Artist Liaison & Program Coordinator at MWF and author of the blog Wandering Spice, about how she came about curating the new Food, Wine & Travel stream for #MWF14.

Why food & wine programming?
Melbourne Writers Festival does literary and current events so beautifully, so it was a natural move to expand the lifestyle element of our program. Food and writing, food and books, and certainly wine and books are the best of friends in my mind, so it felt right to bring Melbourne’s incredible food and literary scenes together in a new way for MWF 2014.

Lisa and Mike (our Director and Program Manager) know how passionate I am about food, so it’s been a wonderful opportunity to put this program together and showcase people that I admire and that are doing super interesting things in the food community.

What can MWF guests expect from the food and wine program?
The chance to hear leaders in food sustainability, ethics, criticism and more talking about what’s up, but in a very casual way: with a glass of wine in hand and canapés in a cozy wine bar. All of our ‘Thinking & Drinking’ events include two glasses of wine and canapés, and in the case of our dinner at Moon Under Water, a memorable three course dinner with matched wines.

It’s the conversation-starting, thought-provoking style that MWF is famous for, but presented a little differently. And hopefully in a way that people love.

How did it come together?
We’re fortunate to have such a vibrant and influential community of food writers and entrepreneurs in Australia – uber-blogger Lorraine Elliott who has taken food blogging to the next level, and entrepreneurs Alla Wolf-Tasker of The Lake House in Daylesford and Phillippa Grogan of the much-loved Phillippa’s bakeries represent just a few of the great examples of this.

Ruth Reichl – food critic and memoirist extraordinaire and my inspiration to start writing – is joining us this year from the US in three very different events, which is massive. She is so personal and funny and passionate in her writing, it’s impossible not to be drawn to her.

The challenge, then, was how to bring these talented people together in events that are relevant to audiences but also practical. I really wanted there to be a take-away element. Worst pun! You know what I mean – I wanted people to walk away feeling like they’d learned something, met someone new, or were inspired to try something new.

So not just food ethics, but how the everyday person like you and I can live that little bit more sustainably. Not just fine dining, but the sociology of it and what our food scene reveals about Australians as diners. And not just old vs new media, but how we all, as writers, consumers, bloggers and bystanders, are playing a part in the new dynamics of food criticism.


Click here for more information on our Food, Wine & Travel stream.

Image via Moon Under Water