From this Friday and for three Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through August, Melburnians won’t need to venture far as the region presents a pop-up in association with Crown Melbourne. Two sittings a night will be presented in Crown’s Evergreen restaurant, which was originally built especially for Heston Blumenthal’s short culinary tenure in 2014.
CEO of Yarra Ranges Tourism, Simon O’Callaghan, said the pop-up idea arose during a dinner discussion about how Victoria’s regions could showcase themselves to the major population base in the heart of Melbourne. He said his region attracted 3.85 million day visitors a year – many of them from Melbourne – but only 800,000 of them stayed overnight.
The event, which has taken some months of collaboration between Crown, producers in the region and the tourism body, is not just aimed at the leisure tourist. Business events evenings at the pop-up have already been booked out.
“Business events are a critical part of our plans to bring business to the region mid-week and we have targeted contacts to join us at these dinners so we can showcase our food and wine quality and our capabilities,” said O’Callaghan.
“We just thought it was a fantastic way for us to put the Yarra Valley in front of the people of Melbourne and we know there is some interest from other Victorian regions to do the same.”
O’Callaghan said the early response had been extremely positive and if the initial event proved successful, they might look to repeat it. He said there were more than 80 wineries in the Yarra Valley producing some of Australia’s best wines, and some wonderful food producers. To kick off, they launched the event with four winemakers – Chandon, Oakridge, Coombe and Tokar – and the Crown chefs were liaising with producers to source ingredients directly for the four-course menu.