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Italian Culinary Heritage Tour at Melbourne General Cemetery
Melbourne General Cemetery (MGC) is rich with the history and stories of Melbourne’s waves of migrant settlers. On April 7, SMCT held its inaugural Italian Culinary Heritage Tour, as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
This community event paid homage to migrants who arrived in a foreign land, built up empires completely from scratch, and were finally laid to rest within the cemetery’s serene grounds.
The capacity audience of over 100 began the tour in the 1930’s era Gatehouse, learning about the generations of caretakers who once lived in the residence. Guests enjoyed a stunning antipasti selection put together by SMCT’s head chef Allan Koh and Café Vita et flores team, with generous assistance from event sponsor Bertocchi Smallgoods. Vintage Italian jazz ensemble Radiosuccessi played a set of 1940’s and 50’s Italian songs in tribute to the migrants of the era who shaped Melbourne’s culinary heart.
Later guests joined cemetery historian Dr Celestina Sagazio and tour guides for a walking tour, learning about notable interments including the Massoni and Ongarello families, Joe Scarso of Big Valley produce and culinary queen Mietta O’Donnell.
The unseasonably balmy night offered guests a chance to hear about the cemetery’s history as a place of reflection, and throughout the 19th century, a place people came to picnic, promenade and socialise.
After the tour, guests enjoyed further culinary selections, drawing on the flavours, key ingredients and techniques of the Italian kitchen. Sponsors Zema Estate provided a selection of wines and Dimattina served up their signature coffee blends. Many visitors ended their memorable night with a visit to the Prime Ministers’ memorial garden.