It’s a beautiful afternoon in Melbourne, making it ideal for Hospitality Business’ Melbourne correspondent, Sharon Purcell, to sit outdoors and chat with Allan Campion from the Melbourne Food Experience company.

Allan’s Building blocks between his business and restaurateurs has proven to be hugely beneficial to both parties because strong relationships are at the heart of everything. Allan indicates that the quality of the relationship will determine how well you are able to apply constructive reciprocal business strategies, with the aim of creating value for both parties.

The strongest relationships are built on trust, making it an important element when working with your suppliers/restaurateurs.  Once honesty and trust are established, there is the potential to open up more opportunities and assist revenue generation, while also creating an ethical system of working.

It’s all about communication

By being honest, clear and concise, you are also able to position yourself as a reliable partner, which can help to encourage future work opportunities and place you ahead of any competition.

At Melbourne Food Experience, Allan and his team are focussed on creating long-lasting, successful relationships.  That’s why The Melbourne Food Experience company has exclusive access to some of Melbourne’s most prestigious restaurants; running tours, masterclasses and private dining experiences. Allan has some great stories to tell as he has travelled and cooked his way through Dublin, London and Turkey for many years. He has always been fascinated with migration and culture and how this affects what we eat and how we eat.

On his return home to Melbourne after his traveling spree, he tells me he ‘’accidentally” got into business during the Melbourne food and wine festival in 2002.

“From then there was this sort of natural evolution, or organic growth” Allan said.

Allan and his team are wildly passionate about all the delicious food found around this historical city of Melbourne. What better way to explore the city than to eat your way through it?

HB Sharon Purcell: Can you remember the exact moment you launched Melbourne Food Experience?

Allan Campion: Yes, Melbourne Food Experiences was launched on the 1st July 2013.  It quickly expanded beyond tours to offer progressive dinners, corporate entertaining, team building classes and private events. I could never have imagined that my love of cooking as a young man would lead to the work I do today. I basically have the best job in town!

SP: What have you been doing recently?

AC: I’ve recently  finished a Tasmanian themed dinner for a Property Developer.

The guests were Chinese buyers who went to Tasmania to check out investment opportunities as part of their tour. The purpose of the dinner in Melbourne being to provide memories and emotions tied up with their earlier Tasmanian trip.  We used a venue with water views and the culinary spread included appetising Tasmania honey, cheeses, lobster and sea urchins.

SP: What are some of your most favourite venues that you get to take your guests?

AC: In Melbourne we are spoilt for choice, Annam, Cumulus Inc, Pure South and Mjølner to name a few.

  • Annam, Little Bourke street

This isn’t street food. It’s a more sophisticated way of enjoying the flavours of Vietnamese cuisine and Annam offers a taste that is uniquely its own. “The chef, Jerry Mai is simply brilliant, creative and brave” says Allan.

“You will be pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness of the facility. More refreshing than anything, there’s personality here you can taste, and see”.

Allan loves taking clients here to experience the quirky fit-out as well as the deliciously authentic flavours.

On the wall, Jerry’s favourite, and very bad, kung fu movies are projected on the wall to provide a moving gallery. Allan tells me that when Nigella Lawson was in Melbourne filming the Master Chef series, she was so impressed, she came to Annam twice.

  • Cumulus Inc., Flinders lane

Allan says this restaurant has one of his favourite fitouts.

Cumulus Inc is a hugely influential flagship venue which has a permanent art gallery, Arc One, which sits adjacent to the restaurant.  This is a beautiful art space that showcases some of Australia’s most admired and current artists, adding that unique point of interest for diners.

The space is well lit and timelessly classic. Legendary Andrew McConnell is the chef here and his reputation precedes him.  He was the first chef in Melbourne to come up with serving a tin of Ortiz anchovies. He now compliments this with tuna tartare with goats’ curd and crushed peas, which has prompted a thousand imitators.

  • Pure South, Southbank

A purposefully designed room where you can interact with the chefs may seem like a dream, but not so at Pure South.

The eloquent space almost appears to be floating over the Yarra River created by the huge glass enclosure. This venue offers almost a theatrical experience, as you gaze at the stage of real life in Melbourne through the large open windows.

Allan says “the hosts here are awesome and can read the crowd- this venue is part of what makes Melbourne sing”.

Pure South restaurant focuses on produce from Tasmania and King Island, including seafood, beef, cheese and some great wines. With a huge renovation at the end of 2016, the fit-out is industrial, polished and brawny. Upstairs it’s all black leather chairs, mottled gum accents and steely grey embellishments.

  • Mjølner, Hardware lane

“Finally, I have to mention Mjølner, in Hardware lane” says Allan. As well as Vikings being a hit on Netflix right now, this Viking themed restaurant is also having its own moment.

“This is perfect for Corporate events or large groups that are open to having a bit of fun as well as a scrumptious culinary experience” Allan says.

It may be not be for everyone as you can’t take yourself too seriously. Think of Thor in an upmarket Ikea- Scandinavian features meet historic Viking influences.  The bar, located in the lower level, is a brick-lined vault.  The restaurant sits on the upper floor with a nose of a boat jutting into the reception area.  Faux and real hides covers are thrown around everywhere and your cocktail, will be delivered in a polished horn, whether you want it to be or not.

The place is decked out with Viking helmets and shields and it seems that every minute someone is taking a selfie in a Thor like pose.

Needless to say, there is some ripping and tearing required with the menu.So, if you are keen on a gastronomic adventure with a touch of the red carpet, one of Allan’s tours could be for you.

For Chinese clients, “dressing in red and being on top of protocol is critical” Allan says.

Allan has all the right contacts with translators, story tellers and linguistic specialists at his disposable. Think dumpling masterclasses, cocktail events, or an Italia pasta making challenge. Allan’s team can tailor make anything to suit and take you down the rabbit hole of laneways and arcades as you learn about Melbourne’s culinary history, and what makes this city such an appetising place.

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