The Legends & Rising Stars awards were held on Monday 24 July, with the 2017 winner of Melbourne Food and Wine’s scholarship announced alongside inductees into the Legends hall of fame.

Past, present and future leaders of Australia’s food and wine industry were celebrated at a dinner hosted by Jill Dupleix at The Point Albert Park.

The awards were conferred by the City of Melbourne’s Cr. Susan Riley, together with Hostplus CEO David Elia and Melbourne Food and Wine CEO Natalie O’Brien.

The 2017 Hostplus Hospitality Scholarship was awarded to Caitlyn Rees. As head sommelier at Charlie Parker’s and Fred’s in Sydney, Rees was an instrumental part of the opening team that launched Fred’s in 2016. Prior to opening the two Paddington venues she worked in high-profile Sydney restaurants, including Momofuku Seiōbo and Mr Wong. The judges were impressed by Rees’ passion for product knowledge and her strong desire to foster and share knowledge within the industry.

Rees will embark on a trip to work across the globe at three world-class venues and wineries along with a year-long mentorship on her return.

“We congratulate Caitlyn on her remarkable achievement and hope this scholarship propels her further in establishing a formidable career in hospitality,” said Umberto Mecchi, group executive, strategy, marketing and client services at Hostplus.

Now it’s 25th year, the Legends hall of fame pays tribute to the leaders, ground breakers and visionaries of Victoria’s food and wine industry.

The Hostplus Trailblazer Award is awarded to professionals under the age of 40 engaged in the Victorian food and wine industry who have contributed to the sector’s advancement. This year the award was given to Matt Stone and Jo Barrett of Oakridge Wines for their advocacy of zero-waste cooking and ethical food.

Also joining the hall of fame in 2017 were the following inductees:

  • Food Producer/Retailer/Advocate — Syd Weddell

As Founder of The Essential Ingredient, Weddell has inspired thousands of home cooks with his stores full of top-line equipment, cookbooks and hard-to-find ingredients.

  • Communicator/Educator — Bruce Pascoe

A member of the Bunurong clan of the Kulin nation Pascoe is the author of nine books. Throughout his varied career, Pascoe has been a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, lecturer, Indigenous language researcher, archaeological site worker and editor. In 2015 he created Gurandgi Munjie, a crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project dedicated to recovering and cultivating native plants.

  • Beverage Producer/Retailer/Advocate — Sandra de Pury

A fourth-generation winemaker at Yeringberg, de Pury views her art as “the perfect combination of intellectual, physical and sensory engagement.”

  • Chef/Restaurateur/Hospitality Professional — Guy Grossi

Grossi is the owner and head chef of Grossi Restaurants, has authored five cookbooks and is a media personality and presenter.

  • Local Hero — Melissa Connors

Inspired by her friendship with retired farmer Noel Jenner, Connors founded the initiative ‘This Farm Needs a Farmer’ to connect those new to farming with the more experienced.


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