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Visiting Tasmania stories

World dinner to highlight our seafood

Edition155 Lobster

The menu for Invite the World to Dinner at MONA on 14 November will feature Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone, while canapés will be served at the Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park (GASP).

Organisers have a brief to include produce from every State. Blue-shelled marrons (small fresh-water crayfish) from Western Australia, red kangaroo from South Australia and beef from Victoria will be used.

Tourism Australia unveiled its guest list in October for the $1.5 million elite, high-powered dinner that will be the climax of its Restaurant Australia campaign.

Selected from 16 countries that take in Australia’s main overseas tourism markets, the lucky invitees include writers, broadcasters, authors, critics, reviewers and bloggers, as well as celebrity chefs, TV personalities and columnists.

After travelling the country and sampling its bounty on individualised four-day tours, they will sit down at MONA to a one-off, exclusive dining experience planned and prepared by leading chefs Neil Perry AM, Peter Gilmore and Ben Shewry.

The three chefs will work together to present two canapés, a cross-cultural main dish and two desserts.

Smoked and confit pig jowl will be served with Tasmanian blacklip abalone as the main course. It will be presented with koji rice grains with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed.

“We [Australians] don’t have a very traditional, laid-down set of rules around our culinary culture, so we are able to take our multi-cultural influences and infuse it in our food in a very subtle and intricate way,” Gilmore said.

What he refers to as a “subtle Japanese-Chinese influence” will also be evident in the two canapés cooked over an open flame at GASP, before the gathering moves up-river to MONA for the main course and dessert.

Food and wine experts will taste the fusion in the kombu butter dousing the coal-fired Tasmanian rock lobster eaten outdoors, while diners take in the views of mountains and water. The same multi-cultural influence will be present in the seared wagyu beef from Victorian breeder David Blackmore, considered in an elite group of Australian producers, along with Robbins Island Wagyu and Greenham Tasmania.

Like Gilmore, Perry is keen to promote the spirit of the Tasmanian setting as well as providing an adventure for the palate.

“I would imagine our guests will expect to taste our amazing lobster and marron and abalone, and to experience that Asian influence,” he said, “but that incredible geography and sense of the spiritual in the landscape is just going to blow people away.”

New Zealand-born Shewry aims to showcase indigenous ingredients with South Australian red kangaroo served with bunya nuts from Melbourne’s Ripponlea Estate, red pepperberries from Tasmania and red carrots from the Mornington Peninsula.

“Society here is a big melting pot – Melbourne has the largest Greek population outside Greece and the largest Italian population outside Italy – but one thing that is really important to me is to recognise the tribal owners of this land,” Shewry said.

“In a small way, I would like this dinner to pay homage to them – to represent those fantastic native products here that are less well known in our society and certainly not well known internationally at all.”

The 80 fortunate guests include 17 celebrity chefs, among them pioneering US chef/restaurateur Alice Waters; Britain’s Heston Blumenthal; Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin; top Singaporean chef Andre Chiang; and Davide Scabin of Turin’s restaurant Combal.zero.

Hollywood actor Gwyneth Paltrow will be a special guest.

There are 40 food and wine writers and journalists, eight bloggers, one sommelier and five broadcast celebrities.

A strong Chinese contingent includes celebrity chef and TV host, Yifan Liu, opinion leader Hui Li, popular food and wine blogger Jianmin Dong, gastronomist and author Jing Li, and famous TV actor Jiaya Zhang.

Four who are stars in their own countries but less well-known in Australia are:

• Sanjeev Kapoor, Celebrity Chef, Restaurateur, TV Presenter – India

• Sherson Lian, Celebrity Chef and Host – Malaysia

• Takuro Tatsumi, Actor and Wine Show Host – Japan

• Lorenzo Cogo, Chef – Italy

Media guests include Vanity Fair and The Sunday Times’ acerbic restaurant critic A.A. Gill, Observer Food Monthly editor Allan Jenkins, American food author Colman Andrews and the France-based critic/consultant Andrea Petrini, named by Time magazine last year as one of the world’s “13 Gods of Food” for his considerable influence.

Ten overseas TV crews will cover proceedings.

The dinner and its preceding familiarisation program make up the final phase of Tourism Australia’s 18-month, $40 million Restaurant Australia campaign to sell the nation as a food and wine destination. Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan, said each of the guests had earned a place at the MONA table.

“As guest lists go I think you’d have to go a long, long way to compile a more impressive line-up of truly global food and wine influencers,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“All State and Territory [tourism] organisations were invited to put forward recommendations on how they might host the dinner,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“Tasmania was selected as the host, because of the international status of MONA, the venue itself and the setting.”

Tourism Tasmania can claim a lot of the credit for a strong presentation of Tasmania’s capabilities.

Footnote: In late October, 85 local service staff were trained for the big event by three of Australia’s hospitality industry leaders. Waiters, bar-staff and runners underwent a day of intense instruction delivered by the General Manager at Quay restaurant, Kylie Ball, the Training and Development Manager for the Rockpool Group, Tom Sykes, and the Head Sommelier at Rockpool, Sebastian Crowther.

“This will create an enduring legacy for our hospitality industry, with the workshop’s participants taking these new skills and knowledge back to restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars across our State,” the Premier, Will Hodgman, said.

6 November 2014

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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