Cool Down Summer Series

Author: Laksha Prasad
Photography: Marcel Aucar

Hold onto your habits - starting this Sunday, the Abbotsford Convent will be playing host to wine, cocktails, DJs and a cooking pit commandeered by guest chefs at the Cool Down Summer Series.

A project from Builders Arms' chef, Josh Murphy, former Builders sommelier (and GT  Sommelier of the Year in 2014) Campbell Burton, and Moon Under Water manager Andrew Green, the series includes four buffet-style lunches, each hosted by a different chef or hospitality personality, from this month to March.

"The three of us really wanted to do something casual and outdoors with the food and wine we love, and really capture the brilliance of summer in Melbourne," says Burton.

The events, held on the Convent's Mercator Lawn, see the return of Burton's above-ground cooking pit, a crowd favourite from his Highway 1 Street Party last March. The kick-off event on Sunday sees John Paul Twomey, Andrew McConnell's right-hand man at Cutler & Co, at the helm.

"We've wanted to do something with JP for a long time - he's extremely talented when it comes to cooking delicious food," says Burton. "He'll be serving a half-chicken, brined and finished in the pit, with Iraqi yellow spice, and you can eat as much salad as you like." There'll also be Wapengo Lake rock oysters for sale, and cocktails by the Melbourne Gin Company.

Other hosts for the series include chef Mitch Orr from Sydney's Acme, Rootstock co-founders Giorgio De Maria and Mike Bennie, as well as Victor Liong from Lee Ho Fook.

While the full menus are still being finalised, each will have the sun, outdoors and barbecues in mind, with seasonal ingredients the focus. Drinks will be a rotating list month-to-month of lagers and pilsners and a short list of local, French and German natural wines that will change for each event.

Burton's money is on Ashley Huntington's beer from Tasmania's Two Metre Tall brewery. "His sour beers are something we can be very, very proud of in Australia," he says.

The bar opens from noon until sunset for each lunch and it's the organisers' "absolute goal" that guests will "buy another beer and bottle of wine after lunch and continue listening to music".

The Cool Down Summer Series, $39 for entry and lunch, Sunday 13 December (John Paul Twomey, Cutler & Co), Sunday 17 January (Rootstock's Giorgio De Maria and Mike Bennie), Sunday 21 February (Mitch Orr, Acme) and Sunday 20 March (Victor Liong, Lee Ho Fook), Abbotsford Convent, 1-16 St Heliers St, Abbotsford, Vic. To book, go to

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