Melbourne Tomato Festival boxes

It’s hard to think about Italian food without bringing to mind pizza and pasta but let’s face it; none of it would be possible without the humble tomato. The inaugural Melbourne Tomato Festival was all about celebrating exactly that. It aimed to glorify this intensely flavoured and versatile fruit, which as a kid I used to take to school and eat like an apple, and it absolutely achieved its aim.

Melbourne Tomato Festival tomatoes ready to goTomatoes in all shapes and sizes


Melbourne Tomato Festival aranciniArancini


Melbourne Tomato Festival Enoteca SilenoEnoteca Sileno serving up penne in a tomato based sauce


Melbourne Tomato Festival gelato close upGelato Tino


Melbourne Tomato Festival more bounty
Who knew tomatoes could make a rainbow

Melbourne Tomato Festival climbing the stairsFestival goers at Farm Vigano

Despite heavy storms the night before, the sun shone through and embraced Farm Vigano in South Morang. Activities included cooking demonstrations by Guy Grossi, Karen Martini and others, talks about the history of the tomato and a farmer’s market featuring a huge selection of heirloom tomatoes, every colour of the tomato spectrum. Couples and families picnicked on rugs among the fruit trees listening to live music, learned how to make passata and tasted dishes starring the main event.

Melbourne Tomato Festival tomatoes handpickedMore tomato bounty


Melbourne Tomato Festival cannoliDelicious cannoli


Melbourne Tomato Festival bocconcini tastersThat’s Amore Cheese


Melbourne Tomato Festival bruschetta saladSome of the delicious fare on offer


Melbourne Tomato Festival the ChefsGuy Grossi representing for the festival

Congratulations to the Grossi Family on a sold out event. You succeeded in encouraging the community to come together to share food, stories and each other’s company. This is at the heart of what the tomato represents. We can’t wait for a bigger and better event in 2016.

The Festival was privileged to host special guest Fabrizia Lanza. Fabrizia originally had a distinguished career as an art curator before returning to Sicily to join her mother’s incredible property Case Vecchie and to this day continues to share with the community the secret of Sicilian food and environment. We were lucky to catch Fabrizia for a few questions before she returns to Italy.



Melbourne Tomato Festival Fabrizia LanzaSpecial guest, Fabrizia Lanza

What are your impressions of the Melbourne food scene and what have been the highlights so far?

Well, I just arrived in Melbourne so I’m not in it yet. I spent a week in Sydney, which was fantastic, and I know that the food scene here is even better so I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ve heard that it’s a very lively city and that there are a lot of interesting chefs coming over. I’m very curious to see what it’s about.

What was it about the Melbourne Tomato Festival that you felt was really important to lend your support to?

Well, you know, tomatoes in Sicily are a staple, absolutely. It’s like potatoes are in Ireland, I don’t know, it’s a lifestyle; tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and all that, so it was quite obvious for me to accept when Guy (Grossi) invited me.

If you had one last recipe to cook with tomatoes, what would it be?

Besides the tomato salsa that we make, which is very very good, because we cook with tomatoes that are dry farmed – they don’t get water – so they’re very very special. Maybe the last tomato recipe I’m really enjoying is a tomato confit, which doesn’t look very Sicilian but with these little cherry tomatoes that are slightly baked with a little dash of powdered sugar and salt and oregano. It’s really extraordinary.

What’s your philosophy on food?

In general, my idea is that food goes far beyond the recipe so I’m very committed to showing or offering this experience of starting from the land, getting a good understanding of the soil and from there arrive to the table.



Twitter: @MelbTomFest

Facebook: Melbourne Tomato Festival    

Instagram: @melbournetomatofestival

Notes: Farm Viganò is located at 10 Bushmans Way, South Morang. The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm and for dinner Thursday to Sunday 6pm till late. It’s also available for weddings, functions and corporate events.


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