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MELBOURNE has long spoken fluent souvlaki – even at 3am – but the contribution of Greece to our culinary canon extends further than gyros and chips. And George Calombaris is a man on a mission to serve up the best of Greece.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to create a week where it’s all things Hellenic,” the Masterchef judge and prolific restaurateur says.
So OMG – Oh My Greek – Week was born. Last year’s humble start has grown into a week-long celebration of the best Greek chefs from around the world who will be in town for “culinary creation and cross-collaboration”.
“It’s shaping up as a huge week,” Calombaris says. “People are embracing it. All the hard work the team has put in to pull this together is paying off.”
Calombaris, who is back in Melbourne after spending a good portion of the northern summer in Greece, says the food scene in Athens is incredibly exciting.
“It’s so cutting-edge. When a country is on its knees, with its back against the wall, going through what they’re going through, that’s when creativity gets really pushed,” he says. “I discovered places doing really cool stuff – things that made me go, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen that before’. And not just food.”
Some of those groundbreakers who’ll be in town include Georgianna Hiliadaki and Nikos Roussos from Athens’ two Michelin star restaurant, Funky Gourmet, mixologists from The Clumsies (one of the world’s top 50 bars), young gun chef Alex Tsiotinis from CTC restaurant in Athens and many more.
Events over the week include an Ancient Greek Feast at the Hellenic Museum and a gala dinner featuring a performance by singer Michalis Hatzigiannis.
There will also be a pop-up Greek eatery serving food from Calombaris’ cookbook, Greek, at Federation Square from noon each day of the event.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase Melbourne to the rest of the world,” Calombaris says. “The plan is to grow the festival every year, not just including chefs and mixologists, but looking outside of that. To create a symposium above and beyond just food, that captures everything Hellene.”
diner hosts Sunday Graze from 11am where tunes and views combine with Asian plates washed down with Coronas and prosecco.
At this Prahran fave, down dumplings to your heart’s content at two all-you-can-eat yum cha sittings on both Saturday ($38) and Sunday ($40).