Alanna Sapwell's Esmay pop-up at Bar Liberty.

In another positive sign that the hospitality world is returning to normal, Melbourne Good Food Month has announced its safe return to the city this June with a line-up of culinary talent from across the country.

With international travel still off the cards, this year’s event will be focused on celebrating homegrown talent and venues.

A cornerstone of the month-long program will be high-profile chef takeovers and collaborations. One of the highlights this year will be Sydney-based chef Neil Perry’s takeover of Melbourne’s most iconic Chinatown restaurant, Flower Drum. For the event, Perry – currently Australia’s most-hatted chef, with 149 at last count – will curate a one-off menu of his favourite Flower Drum dishes, including off-menu items that are made especially for the chef when he visits.

Another standout will be Alanna Sapwell’s collaboration with Melbourne wine bar Bar Liberty, where she will bring her travelling restaurant concept Esmay.

As usual, Melbourne Good Food Month will present an opportunity for the country’s young chef talent to shine. This year’s Young Chef Lunch will take place at Lona Misa, the latest venture from punk-rock veg star Shannon Martinez. Under the guidance of Martinez and her very own mentor, Ian Curley, a team of young chefs will work to create a four-course menu that will also represent the official launch of Lona Misa.

“More than ever before, the importance of supporting the Melbourne hospitality and dining industry is at the front and centre of our minds,” says Venessa Cowell, head of Nine Food Events.

“This year, not just throughout the month of June, but at every opportunity, in any way you can, together let’s throw our support behind the venues that we love and those we take for granted as being part of the fabric of Melbourne.”

Tickets for Melbourne Good Food Month 2021 are on sale as of 9am this morning. Visit the website for the full program, which runs throughout the month of June.