Five Melbourne-based hospitality professionals have come together to create Grow Assembly, a platform that aims to educate, train and inspire the industry’s next generation.
Founders Michael Bascetta, Banjo Harris Plane, Meira Harel, Vicky Symington and Manu Patoi have worked in small cafes and fine diners, coffee roasters and destination restaurants in Australia and around the world. In starting Grow, their mission is to bring together hospitality industry professionals from the front of house to the kitchen, including, sommeliers, restaurant managers, bakers, butchers and chefs, as well as food and beverage writers.
Bascetta, Plane and Symington have previously worked together on Attica’s 2014 WAW Gathering, which brought 42 chefs from across the world together for a day talks and a charity lunch.
Grow Assembly’s first event is the result of looking at the formats of other food conferences, like MAD and New York’s Welcome Conference. “What we wanted to do was bring the parts – whether it be front of house, kitchen or elsewhere in the industry – and the practices within each part – sommeliers, bakers, butchers and the like – together with the view to educate the next generation of hospitality professionals in Australia,” said Bascetta.
The list of speakers at Grow 2016 includes owner and head chef of Brae, Dan Hunter; baker and chef at Belgium’s De Superette, Sarah Lemke; master sommelier Sebastian Crowther; wine writer Max Allen; owner, farmer and brewer at Two Metre Tall Farmhouse Ale & Cider Ashley Huntington; and restaurateur/owner of Epocha and Elyros, Angie Giannakodakis.
With the inaugural Grow symposium around the corner, Bascetta said “There are so many new places opening, yet there’s fewer and fewer people getting into hospitality. We want to shed light on that and help educate the younger generation, to show them what’s possible within hospitality by exposing them to all these great people.”
For now Grow is a Melbourne-based venture, although there are hopes to expand interstate in the future.
“We hope this first event will be a success. Tickets went on sale a couple of days ago and it’s tracking along nicely, already half the tickets have sold. But once things settle down and we can debrief about the event, what we’ve achieved and what we would like to continue to achieve, we can hopefully look at other cities in Australia,” said Bascetta.
While the first event is a seminar-style full day of talks from industry talent, Bascetta said the group would like to do smaller events in the future that “hone in on an aspect of the industry, whether it be coffee or wine, and so forth.”
Grow 2016 will take place in Melbourne on Sunday 1 May from 10am-5pm. For more information visit the Grow Assembly website.