Melbourne Salami Festa 201

Being Italian, a festival like the Melbourne Salami Festa catches my attention like a jar of Nutella. I have grown up watching my Father cure Prosciutto and Salami, tell me why his is the best, talk me through the flavours he’s used and even go as far as purchase a professional vacuum sealer and an industrial meat slicer. For Salami making families the art of creating this culinary delight is a real point of pride and subject to a lot of conversation and competition.

With Melbourne embracing food like a python eating its prey as of late, it’s no surprise to me that the Melbourne Salami Festa has been so well received. The Festa is now in its third year, with last year’s event seeing crowds reach around 2,500 people. In addition to the main competition which is basically a battle for the best homemade Salami, there will be a Salumi Market showcasing some of Australia’s best artisan salami, demonstrations of pig carving, salami and blood sausage making, and live music – in other words lots to see, eat and do.

In the meantime we chat to the Festa’s Founder and Director, Carlo Mazzarella (pictured below) to tell us more about the Festa and what to expect. A presto!

JC x


Melbourne Salami Festa founder


1. Carlo, this is an event that has been happening in the garages of Italian families for decades. Can you tell us a bit about how the genius idea of making it public came about?

The idea of starting a Festa initially began as a joke between myself and a friend. He was at my parent’s house learning how to make salami for the first time and we finished quite late at around 3am so were all a bit delirious. We got into a discussion about how everyone thinks their salami is the best and it was my mum who suggested we start an annual competition. In our first year we hoped we’d get maybe 10 or 12 entries but ended up with 53. The hall we hired for the event could only hold maybe 300 people and we had a line of almost 2,000 people outside. We haven’t looked back since.


Melbourne Salami Festa

2. How does the Festa work and what can people expect on the day?

The Festa is primarily built around the competition. The main award is The Judge’s Choice Award that a panel of industry experts and chefs decide upon in a closed blind tasting. The People’s Choice Award is what makes the Festa unique and interactive in that every punter on the day tastes a sample of competitor salami and is able to vote on their favourite. On the day we have live entertainment, food stalls and a bar. But the big attraction is the Salumi Market located inside the main hall where we have brought together some of the best artisan producers of smallgoods in the country. People are able to buy and taste from a wide range of suppliers and flavours. We also have a dedicated demonstration theatre where we have various demos relating to making salami and salumi.

Melbourne Salami Festa 2013

3. In your opinion, what are the key factors to making great salami, and who does it best? 

Great salami comes down to your personal taste and preference which is what is so great about the Festa and the competition in particular. For me all great salami comes down to restraint and not trying to pack too many flavours together. For me, the pork is the king and everything should compliment not compete with it. Every region in Italy and Europe does things differently. Southern Italians like the Calabrese like their rich and hot capsicum sauce while the Northern Italians keep things a little simpler with maybe just pepper, salt and garlic or fennel. I personally like this simpler form and a little black truffle always gets my attention.


Melbourne Salami Festa


4. For those without access to salami making families, where can one go in Melbourne to taste or buy the real deal?

Well you can’t buy home made salami because it doesn’t meet the Australian food standards and that’s why at the Festa it is strictly complimentary on entry. The Festa has become the best place to come in Melbourne if you want to taste salami products in their most purest and ancient form.

Melbourne Salami Festa


5. There is a bit of a myth about why women aren’t allowed to part take in the making of salami. Could you explain this or confirm whether it is true.

There is a superstition relating to women and the making of salami but is very particular to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Back in the day, in small villages, if a woman was in the middle of her cycle she would be discouraged from taking part as it was thought that the meat would spoil. However women have always been a very important part of the salami making process especially in the old days when there was no filling machines and the intestines would have to be filled by hand. Women’s hands were small and delicate enough to fill the skins without tearing them. So in fact the opposite is true.


Melbourne Salami Festa


6. If people can’t wait for the Festa where else can people find you throughout the year?

We have a few different events throughout the year in particular our Salami Sessions workshops where we take a small group of people into the country for the day to make salami. It’s a truly hands on and cultural experience where people come away with their own sausages.

Melbourne Salami Festa

7. Apart from next year’s event, can we expect anything else in the pipeline from the Salami Festa – will it go national?

We’d love to take the Salami Festa on the road and expand into other states but that takes time and money, but it’s a goal we’d like to achieve. We’d also like to start bringing over some international guests every year to share their knowledge to the Australian public. The Festa will go global!


The Melbourne Salami Festa is on Sunday October 26th at the Northcote Town Hall. This year’s judges include Frank Camorra (Movida), Rosa Mitchell (Rosa’s Kitchen), and Dom Marzano (Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar) and a guest “Nonno,” while punters will get a chance to vote for the People’s Choice Award. For more details about the event visit

All image credits to Daniel Mazzarella.



Twitter: @SalamiFesta

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Instagram: @salamifesta



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