Special ’30 Under 30 Gala Dinner’ celebrates Victoria’s Best Chefs Under 30, including Igni’s Bianca Johnston 

Special ’30 Under 30 Gala Dinner’ celebrates Victoria’s Best Chefs Under 30, including Igni’s Bianca Johnston 

Bianca Johnston (photo: Clint Peloso).

The 30 Under 30 Gala Dinner brings together 30 of the most promising young chefs from around Victoria to celebrate Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s 30th anniversary with a showcase of up-and-coming talent like you’ve never seen before.

While the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF) official festival run has been and gone, the epic foodie festival is continuing its 30th celebrations with a very special gala dinner and event series, shining a light on some of Victoria’s best chefs through the ’30 Under 30 Gala Dinner and Event Series’.

For one night only, the Plaza Ballroom plays host to a spectacular feast, with chefs from Attica, Vue de Monde, Gimlet, Matilda 159, Stokehouse, Amaru, Provenance, Society, Aru and Igni, as more than two dozen of Victoria’s very best places to eat join together to present 30 dishes of their own creation.

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Held on Thursday July 28, the 30 Under 30 Gala Dinner will see the first 10 dishes served cocktail party-style, with the food presented by tray service and from stations around the grand room – it is a party after all. Main courses will then be served family-style, laid on the table to share, and desserts will be served across both the table to share, and around the room. It’s not about excess or endurance – it’s all about inspiration, adventure and the pleasure of discovery.

Among the 30 chefs under 30 is Vue de Monde’s Hugh Allen, Etta’s Rosheen Kaul, Bar Liberty’s Zackary Furst, Hope St Radio’s Ellie Bouhadana, Matilda 159’s Elijah Chen, Coda’s Joane Yeoh,  and Monforte Patisserie’s Giorgia McAllister Forte. Other names include Attica’s HyoJu Park, Hector’s Deli’s Anneliese Brancatisano and Gimlet’s Hannah Holleran. Drinks for the night are included and have been chosen in consultation with a panel of under-30 Victorian sommeliers and bar managers, led by Alice Diffey (Gerald’s Bar), Michael Hegarty (The Recreation), and Claudelle Savannah (Public Wine Shop).

In a coup for Geelong’s dining scene, Igni’s Bianca Johnston has also been selected as one of the participating chefs.

Bianca Johnston’s approach to food was shaped by her time working at Tom McHugo’s in her hometown of Hobart, where she gained experience in whole animal butchery, charcuterie, fermentation and cheesemaking. Since then, Bianca was named Appetite for Excellence’s Young Chef of the Year in 2019, leading her to become head chef at Restaurant Igni, where she uses the skills she developed in Tasmania while learning about Victorian produce and a new food community.

Representing Aaron Turner’s restaurant, tucked away in the backstreets of Geelong’s CBD, IGNI’s dining experience is based around the charcoal grill, which, along with the imaginative flavour combinations and seasonal ingredients, provides much of the drama. With a minimalist interior, all blonde wood, muted greys and polished concrete, the focus remains on the food at all times and so it should.

Well done Bianca!

Following the Gala Dinner, from August 1 to 17 there will be a series of one-night-only dinners at some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, including Matilda 159, Cutler & Co, Embla, Society and Stokehouse where the young chefs will break off into smaller groups.

Catch Bianca Johnston at the 30 Under 30 Gala dinner on Thursday 28 July and at the 30 Under 30 dinner at Matilda 159 on 2 Tuesday August; follow her at @biancajohnston_