Grow Melbourne 2016

Photography: James Broadway

A series of talks by some of the food industry's biggest players will dig deep into all aspects of how we eat.

Specialised hospitality talkfests that tap into the TED Talk vibe have become something of a thing. Think René Redzepi's MAD Symposium (held outside Copenhagen for the first time last weekend in Sydney), Ben Shewry's WAW Gathering and The Welcome Conference in New York and the impression can be one of exclusive food festivals for the in-crowd. Banjo Harris Plane, one of the organisers of Grow Melbourne in Collingwood's Spiegeltent next month, begs to differ.

"I was working at Attica when we held the WAW Gathering and so was very hands-on with the event and really impressed at how much people were inspired by it, how much they got out of it," says Harris Plane, co-owner of Fitzroy's Bar Liberty. "I've had the same experience from other events I've been to around the world and so was inspired to do something in Australia - not copying, but the same ethos where people have a forum to think about concepts and ideas related to the industry in depth."

Grow (not an acronym, just "the hope that we will expand people's knowledge") is a single-day event with a 12-strong line-up of speakers that includes Dan Hunter (owner-chef of Brae), Sebastian Crowther (sommelier at Rockpool), Angie Giannakodakis (owner of Epocha and Elyros) and chef-baker Sarah Lemke.

"All the people are from the industry but there's a really broad range of skills and experiences," he says. "There will be people talking about how to ethically source coffee or about the state of wine education in Australia, but there will also be practical stuff, like looking at some of the financial aspects of running a hospitality business."

The ticket price includes lunch and drinks and, just so it doesn't get too serious, there will be beers in the car park at the end of the day and an after-party at Bar Liberty.

Grow Melbourne 2016 is on May 1, 10am-5pm. Tickets $125, on sale now at

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