Run Forrest

Menu For Hope

Here’s the deal, directly lifted from Ed Charles’ blog (who is the Asia Pacific, Australian and New Zealand host for for the second year):

What is Menu for Hope?

Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising campaign hosted by Pim of Chez Pim and a revolving group of food bloggers around the world. Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired Pim to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born. The campaign has since become a yearly affair. For the past three years, Menu for Hope raised nearly a quarter of million dollars in support of the good work of the UN World Food Programme, helping to feed hungry people worldwide.

Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. Anyone can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of their choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

When will this year’s campaign take place?

December 14 through Christmas.

Who is the beneficiary of this year’s campaign?

Once again we’ve chosen to work with the UN World Food Programme. WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

This year, we are supporting a new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress (P4P). P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation. More on P4P here.

Who collects the money?

Certainly not Pim, nor the other bloggers participating on the campaign. We know our readers trust us, but we also want to be completely transparent in our fundraising. So, we use a very good online fundraising company called First Giving, who has worked with us since the first Menu for Hope years ago.

Donors can make an online donation with a credit card. Firstgiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The bloggers never touch the money. The WFP don’t waste overheads on processing mini-donations, the majority of which were between $10-$50, that’s a whole lot of tenners to make up $90K. Firstgiving does all the work and collects a small fee, which include the credit card processing charges.

Last year, Firstgiving gave back 1% of the total amount raised in lieu of a discount on their processing fee. Thank you Firstgiving, we appreciated it very much!

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list (or see below for the prizes available from this blog).

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Specify which bid item you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code. Each US$10 (a little of AUD $11) you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of US$50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 – 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match. (This isn’t relevant to Australian bidders)

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

So, in support of Menu for Hope, we have collected quite a few prizes:

Heilala Vanilla

Prize: 1 x Heilala Vanilla pack [valued at $120]

Prize Code: AP17

Prize includes: Heilala Vanilla Pods (three in glass tube), Extract (100ml jar), Paste (100ml jar), Sugar (335g resealable pouch), apron.

About: Heilala Vanilla began as an aid project when NZ’s John Ross put a dormant block of land to good use in Tonga.  They established a vanilla plantation and now the project has blossomed into a business that not only created a range of premium vanilla products, but provides the local community with an income.

Prize conditions: valid for Australian residents only. Prize will be posted to winner.

Sommeliers Australia

Prize: 1 x enthusiast membership valid for one year [valued at $100]

Prize code: AP20

Prize includes: Membership for 12 months includes email news updates, job alerts and invitations to all tastings, no charge for regular tastings ($25 for non-members) and discounted pricing for selected events.

About: Sommeliers Australia conducts a regular program of dynamic wine tastings and events in all five States to further educate not only sommeliers, hospitality and industry personnel but also general wine enthusiasts and consumes who are keen to learn the same insights the professionals do. Visit:

Prize conditions: valid for Australian residents in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Hobart.

Mezzo Bar & Grill

Prize: 1 x dinner for two [valued at $150].

Prize Code: AP18

About: Luke Stringer and Joseph Vargetto, the duo behind Melbourne’s Oyster Little Bourke will kick off 2010 with a new look space, a new dining philosophy, a very different food and wine focus, and the launch of a whole new restaurant offer that will reignite the fire in the bellies of these two very passionate blokes; and that will be Mezzo. Expect more casual environs. A wine list with a more Italian flavour. A menu with impanate, stuzzichini, a salumi selection, pastas, mains and ala piastra. Shared eating. A palpable energy and a genuine passion. A bigger injection of their respective personalities in the way the place ticks. But due to popular demand (and a guaranteed outcry from the regulars), the beloved oysters, shucked on demand, won’t be leaving the menu just yet… Mezzo Bar & Grill. Serves it up from Friday 8 January 2010. 35 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000. T: 03 9650 0988.


Prize: 1 x dinner for two [valued at $150]

Prize code: AP19

About: Libertine is owned and run by Nick Creswick and Zoë Ladyman, a young couple dedicated to their craft of providing not only a superb meal, but an indulgent service experience. They love classic and traditional French cuisine and remain steadfast in their intentions to bring back an old-fashioned style of respectful and responsive service.  Libertine proudly supports produce suppliers that are quality driven and strive to use the best game, seafood and vegetables available each season.  The wines on offer in the restaurant form a small eclectic collection from around the world, always of exceptional quality at every price point, catering for those just starting their exploration of wine, as well as those wanting a very special or rare bottle. Libertine, 500 Victoria St, North Melbourne, 3051. T: 03 9329 5228.

The Wanderer

Prize: A case of The Wanderer’s current release wines [Valued at $420].

Prize code: AP25

Prize includes: 6 bottles of The Wanderer Lower Yarra Pinot Noir 2008 and 6 bottles of The Wanderer Shiraz 2008

About: Andrew Marks’ label ‘The Wanderer’ enables him to roam about the place searching for small parcels of great fruit to make some special wines. To date, this has centred on the Yarra Valley, working with growers with whom he has known for many years. Emphasis in the vineyard is placed on producing fruit of great intensity. This is achieved by cropping the vineyards at very low levels through hard pruning, rigorous shoot thinning and crop thinning in the case of the shiraz. The result is three vibrant single vineyard wines with great intensity and character.

Prize conditions: valid for Australian residents only.

Gembrook Hill

Prize: A case of Gembrook Hill’s current release wines [valued at $433.50]

Prize code:  AP21

Prize includes: 3 bottles each of Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chardonnay 2006, Pinot Noir 2008 and Gembrook Hill ‘Mayer Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2008

About: Ian and June Marks at Gembrook Hill found their vineyard site after a long search for the perfect pocket of land throughout almost every wine region in Victoria. With views of Mt Donna Buang, a backdrop of the Warburton ranges, red soil and a coveted north-easterly aspect, it is the perfect spot for cool climate winemaking. Gembrook Hill led the way as part of the ‘second wave’ of Yarra Valley vignerons, and today is one of the oldest vineyards in the Upper Yarra Valley sub-region. Gembrook’s wines are regarded as some of the most outstanding examples of their variety in Australia and are crafted with an old-world winemaking mindset. Most vine age now over twenty years. Gembrook Hill was one of the pacesetters in the Yarra Valley with its restrained yet complex style of chardonnay. The sauvignon blanc possesses characteristics found in Sancerre, and is more austere than the typical Australian and New Zealand examples. And the pinot noir has the elegance of old world Burgundy.

Prize conditions: valid for Australian residents only.

McIvor Estate

Prize: A case of McIvor Estate Wines current release wines [valued at $330]

Prize code: AP 22

Prize includes: 3 bottles each of McIvor Estate Marsanne Roussanne 2009, Cabernet Merlot 2006, Sangiovese 2007 and Shiraz 2006.

About: Located in the coveted south end of Heathcote, Victoria, McIvor Estate‘s vines nestle in the sought-after granitic soil amongst dramatic scenery of large granite boulders, majestic rolling hills and imposing gullies that are framed by the Great Dividing Range. Picture-perfect. The property yields award-winning wines, an olive grove producing oils and fruit, and a small herd of Murray Grey breeding cows to keep an eye on things.

Prize conditions: valid for Australian residents only.

La Madre Bakery

Prize:  1x La Madre voucher valid for 12 months [valued at $100]

Prize code: AP23

About: La Madre Bakery is an artisanal bakery run by Anna Spurling and Tez Kemp. They specialise is sourdough, crafted using considered techniques and age-old recipes, and it’s all hand-made with a capital N “No” to preservatives, improvers or any other additives. The full suite of La Madre breads not only features sourdough in all its tin, bun, baguette, roll, cob, fruit-laden and rye-combo forms, but also a ‘traditional’ range, as well as pastries and sweet seasonal treats. They have also recently developed a range of breads utilising an ancient grain that is experiencing a welcome resurgence, spelt. La Madre’s goods can be found at Thomas Dux stores, providores and some pretty fine restaurant tables throughout Victoria.

Prize conditions: valid for Australian residents only. Voucher redeemable only at the La Madre Bakery’s Geelong headquarters.

FOR OTHER AWESOME MENU FOR HOPE PRIZES, head to Ed Charles’ blog for the full list.


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Sommeliers Australia appoints a new President.

The first Annual General Meeting of the official national association of Sommeliers Australia was held on Sunday 29th November 2009 at The Westin, Melbourne. After a co-Presidency of two years, which was occupied by the State association heads of New South Wales and Victoria, Ben Moechtar and Ben Edwards respectively, it was Ben Edwards that was elected the new President of Sommeliers Australia.

Sommeliers Australia is a not for profit hospitality industry organisation that began life in the early 1990s in Victoria and New South Wales as separate associations. In August 2007, the two associations merged to form a national body, renamed ‘Sommeliers Australia’. In 2009 Sommeliers Australia has extended Chapters to all States, and this Annual General Meeting was the first since the official establishment of the national body. Those present at the Annual General Meeting also appointed members who will take up roles on the National Executive, led by President Ben Edwards.

These individuals are:

> Ben Moechtar (NSW) > Franck Moreau (NSW) > Tim Stock (NSW) > Tony Venn (NSW)
> David Lawler (VIC) > Chris Crawford (VIC) > Dan Sims (VIC) > Peter Marchant (QLD)
> Ed Wolkowinski (WA) > Louise Radman (SA) > Joseph Burton (TAS)

The first meeting of the National Executive will be held in early 2010, and at this meeting a key agenda item will be to fill the remaining roles of Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer.

Ben Edwards was elated with the result. ”We’ve put in such a lot of work to take the association up a notch. The next phase is very exciting, and I was very keen to continue to drive the strategy with a committed team. It was actually quite a proud day to see all of our State Chapter representatives in the one room at this meeting. We’ve come such a long way, and this meeting was quite an important event in the history of our association,” noted Edwards.
The President’s Report and Minutes from the Annual General Meeting will be available for download at shortly.

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Sommeliers Australia committee member aces the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition.

After Sommeliers Australia’s recent acceptance as a member of the prestigious Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), Sydney-based Sommelier Franck Moreau of Merivale Group (Sydney Australia) was awarded second place, at the inaugural Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition held in Osaka, Japan, on November 18, 2009.

Franck competed alongside David Lawler, Vice President of Sommeliers Australia and Head Sommelier of Rockpool Bar and Grill, Melbourne. Franck and David were selected by Sommeliers Australia as the best candidates to represent Australia in this formidable competition. The two were among twenty Sommeliers from ten different countries. In addition to the rigorous assessment process, all applicants needed to conduct the entire competition in a second language. Franck was able to compete in English as it his second language, and David chose French.

The competition comprised:

  • Fifty written questions
  • Two blind wine taste-tests (where each wine’s region, grape and suitable matching dishes were required)
  • Tasting of a dish (where each Sommelier had to select a wine to complement the food and provide a rationale for the choice)
  • Three blind spirit taste-tests (to be completed within three minutes)
  • A practical exam (opening and aerating a wine which was to be served to five people within four minutes).

After the semi final round there were just three candidates left standing – Saturo Mori and Nobuhiro Tani, both of La Tour d’Argent (Hotel New Otani, Tokyo, Japan) and our own Franck Moreau. In front of an audience of around 500 people, these three candidates had to face six practical scenarios:

  • Serving champagne promptly to two guests waiting for their friends
  • Recommending beverages to match the food from a set menu to four guests
  • Decanting and serving of a bottle of Chateau La Lagune 1985 to ten guests
  • Proofing a wine-list and correcting its errors
  • Blind-tasting of white, red, and dessert wine
  • Identifying five spirits and specifying the type and the brand.

Shinya Tasaki, chairman of the Technical Committee and Vice President of the ASI in charge of the competition noted, “The members whose nation or region an applicant Sommelier came from and participated in the contest could not be a judge of the assessment panel. Thus, the contest was truly fair. Any applicant could win. It was a close contest.”

And the placings were:

Winner: Satoru Mori (Japan)

Second: Franck Moreau (Australia)

Third: Nobuhiro Tani (Japan)

Franck, on top of receiving second place in the competition, also won the Sopexa Vin de France section of the competition, which involved thirty written questions on French wines and a blind-taste test, As a result, Moreau is now the official Ambassador for French Wine in Australia. Franck claimed that it was the hardest French test he had ever done.

The winner, Satoru Mori, is now entitled to represent Japan in Chile next April 2010 for the title of Best Sommelier of the World.

Sommeliers Australia Co-President Ben Edwards was elated with the win. “This is the very first time that Australian Sommeliers have competed in a competition of such prestige. The placing of Franck and David in the semi final, and Franck’s overall second placing, was beyond our wildest dreams. Not that we ever doubted the skill of these two impeccable Sommeliers! It confirmed our decision that both David and Franck were the best candidates for us to put forward,” noted Ben.

Sommeliers Australia Vice-President and competitor David Lawler said it was an incredible experience. “It was an amazing forum to be a part of. It was incredibly tough, and was truly a benchmark educational experience. I’m looking forward to taking learnings from this competition and applying it to the education process that Sommeliers Australia is continually evolving for our members,” said David.

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