The Melbourne Tomato Festival 2016

Author: Riley Wilson
Photography: Mark Chew

The Melbourne Tomato Festival heads to the Edendale Community Farm in Eltham this weekend, celebrating the city's Italian food traditions with workshops, cooking demonstrations and produce stalls.

"It's about bringing people together to celebrate past traditions and important food traditions," says Elizabeth Grossi, of the family-run Grossi restaurants. "We want to get people involved with the production of food, not just the environmental elements of that, but also the social elements." The festival is the key event for the Melbournese Movement, a community group headed up by the Grossi family, that shines a light on the fusion of Italian and Melbournian traditions, as well as the environmental impact of food, the importance of local production and how both play into community.

"Through migration Italians have brought a lot of new things to Melbourne's culture, but Melbourne's culture has also given us a lot of new things," Grossi says. Thus "Melbournese", a blend of both cultures, was born. "It's passata-making day while the football's playing on TV. It's a story about integration and the intertwining of cultures to develop something that's new and positive."

A highlight of the festival will be massive passata-making
sessions, where a half-tonne of tomatoes will be used in seven slots  throughout the day to create bottles of the sauce, a mainstay in Italian kitchens. "The Italian passata-making day is a big tradition in Italian culture, because it's a day when the whole family comes together to harvest the tomatoes they've grown and turn them into passata to store for the winter months," says Grossi.

Other events include a beekeeping workshop from Melbourne City Rooftop Honey; a pig-butchery event with Tammi Jonas of ethical pig farm Jonai Farms & Meatsmiths; and mozzarella making with That's Amore's Giorgio Linguanti. "You can also come along and learn how to make your own pizza oven," says Grossi.

Chefs including Guy Grossi, Colin Fassnidge and Scott Pickett will take to the stage for cooking demonstrations, and Books for Cooks, Prahan Market and Mount Zero Olives will set up shop along with a collection of other local purveyors.

"Come along and get involved in some of the educational stuff, or just come along and eat and drink," says Grossi.

The Melbourne Tomato Festival, 21 February, Edendale Community Farm, Eltham, Victoria. Tickets are $25 for adult
s,$10 for children six to 13 years, and  children five and under enter free of charge. Tickets are available until sold out from the  festival's website.







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