The Future of Brunch

Brunch has shaped Melbourne’s cultural identity. The terms brunch and Melbourne have become synonymous, ringing bells that conjure picturesque platings that people salivate over on Instagram and Pinterest.

Due to its popularity, the concept is being rapidly reproduced in other parts of the world (check out St Kilda Cafe in Iowa, USA).

Interestingly enough, consumer demands have changed in tandem. People are on the hunt for clean, healthy food that is locally, seasonally and sustainably sourced. They are also on the lookout for a diversity of flavours.

“Breakfast or brunch out didn’t even rate a mention in the first edition of The Age Good Food Guide in 1980. But we’ve made up for lost time. Now, Melbourne-style brunch, with restaurant-level table service and plating, high-quality coffee and sleek architect-designed interior, has become an export commodity,” Roslyn Grundy, co-editor of The Age’s The Good Food Guide 2018, said.

Grundy said, that in late 2015, US Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz was so impressed by the local brunch scene that he decided to add some elements to his restaurant in the Big Apple, the Aviary.

Moreover, blogger of Never Too Sweet For Me, Daisy Wong said her “family and friends who live overseas always tell me how much they want to come and brunch with me.”

“Melbourne style institutions are opening up in Hong Kong, London and New York,” Wong said.

Darian Szyszka, owner of Reunion and Co stated that his café has a strong commitment to ethical farming and transparency.

“We are proud to support local Victorian suppliers that help deliver their vision of food from farm to your plate,” Darian said.

At Reunion and Co. seasonality is incorporated into meals. On top of this, the Richmond cafe meets the demand for ethically sourced and raised proteins such as eggs and meat. Not surprisingly, its best sellers are the fresh green salads and seasonal vegetables.

Darian’s recipe for success is simple. Obtain fresh, transparent produce that is then properly cooked.

“We do what we do really well. People understand the difference in their palates. They are also political – they like to know where their food comes from,” Darian said.

“Food sourcing and farm to plate scenarios are bound to rise as people become more educated about ethical sourcing and locally produced food. It is really important to support local farmers and not import our supplies from overseas due to cheaper prices,” blogger Daisy Wong said.

Lisa too voices the rise of sustainability in brunch. She has noticed eaters to be “savvy” and applauds the ban of takeaway cups.

Similarly, self-professed food nerd and University of Melbourne PhD student, Sophie Lamond echoes the inclusion of sustainability as a core value. She also has a controversial prediction about the type of protein used.

“On our plates this might look like more protein from insects and more sea vegetables as sudden shocks could mean sharp price rises in grains, fruits, and nuts,” Lamond said.

Nola James, freelance writer and cafe reviewer for The Age’s Good Food charts the rise of other cultural influences.

“Our love affair with Asian-style breakfasts will continue to grow, too, expect more congee, more bonito and more kimchee across the board,” James said.

Similarly, Grundy echoes the popularity of a variety of cultural influences.

“Brunch might be congee, pho or kedgeree as much as hot cakes or french toast,” Grundy said.

Another area that has gained prevalence in the Melbourne brunch scene is the Middle Eastern cuisine. Richmond’s Feast of Merit provides sumac, Turkish delight, tahini, Persian feta and isot chermoula. Similarly, Carlton’s Babajan is influenced by Turkish cuisine. The menu provides a beautiful blend of rose, cardamom, dukkah, sucuk, smic and za’atar.

With a strong focus on sustainability and a mishmash of international flavours, Lisa, Melbourne based blogger of Lisa Eats Worldsums it up best: “brunch isn’t just smashed avocado and eggs on toast anymore”.

Written by Devana Senanayake

Subsidised solar anyone?

Residents Yarra wide will soon have access to subsidised solar panels through the Yarra Energy Foundation’s ‘Solar Bulk Buy’ program.

The program’s expansion comes after a successful trial in the neighbouring suburb of Richmond where there were more than 300 expressions of interest and solar capacity within the suburb increased by 10-12%.

The bulk buy gives residents access to market leading rates by aggregating suburbs of people and making a single discounted bulk purchase.

Yarra Energy Foundation acting chief executive Dean Kline said the program’s expansion will make solar power more accessible and affordable.

“The solar bulk buy, planned for early 2018, will give all Yarra residents the opportunity to purchase high quality solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes or businesses at market leading rates.”

“This is the best option for homeowner’s eager to invest in solar power. The program’s scope means that we are able to demand quality materials with bulk purchase discounts.”

“This process makes it easy for households to make the move towards solar power because we organise everything from finding quality manufacturers, to overseeing installation and even project managing if required,” Mr. Kline said.

Solar powered panels installed as part of the program are predicted to have paid for themselves after five to eight years and PV systems are guaranteed for at least 25 years.

Saint Marys House of Welcome in Fitzroy received an eight kilowatt (Kw) solar PV system last September and business manager Kathy Hogarty said the donation makes a huge difference to their bottom line.

“Our services like hot showers, a warm place to relax and freshly prepared meals demand considerable electricity use and the solar panels save us about 10 to 12% on our monthly electricity bill.”

Solar piping can be used to heat water without gas or electricity. Photo: Joseph Regan

“That equates to around $2500 a year, which is enough money for us to provide meals to the homeless for a month.”

“The installation itself was quite seamless and a sideline to that it brought a level of awareness both to our organisation and the community at large where by people consciously thought about their own energy use,” Mrs. Hogarty said.

Doctor Jacek Jasieniak Monash university’s director of Energy Materials & Systems Institute said solar power is the most viable renewable energy option for those living in metropolitan areas.

“About 16% of Victorian households have solar power, which equates to about 400,000 homes. It’s a popular renewable energy option for metropolitan households because it is among the cheapest available and only limited by roof direction and size.”

“The average household uses between 20 – 25 kWh per day. To produce enough solar power to meet these energy demands a household would need 17 – 21 high powered panels at the minimum.”

“While it is unlikely that typical metropolitan houses will be able to go off grid, there is no impediment for local generation on a smaller scale that is used, passed back to the grid, or stored in a local energy storage system,” Dr. Jasieniak said.

Registrations for the Yarra Energy Foundation’s solar bulk buy are expected to open early 2018, for more information click here.

Written by Joseph Regan

The Nightingale’s new nest: a sustainable housing development model takes flight

With housing affordability and availability starting to make it onto the agenda of federal politicians, a development on Sydney Rd shows potential to solve the urban housing problem.

The Nightingale Housing development, awaiting approval from Moreland City Council, would see the demolition of an existing building, and the construction of a seven-storey, eco-friendly, owner-occupied one, with room for 20 apartments as well as four commercial spaces.

The Nightingale Housing Model, pioneered in 2013 with The Commons, is a multi-award winning development in Brunswick. It showcases a sustainable design and shared social spaces such as a rooftop garden, along with an affordable price tag.

View of the top of Nightingale 3. Photo: Austin Maynard Architects

Designer-led and based on deliberation with potential owners, the Nightingale model prevents developers from raising the costs and cutting corners on design and quality in order to maximise profit. Rather than the starting minimum of 20 per cent, the developer margin for Nightingale projects is capped at 15 per cent.

With solar panelling, a rooftop garden, and no air-conditioning, Nightingale is intent on creating an environmentally friendly urban model.

Nightingale claims to uphold its environmentally sustainable credentials by using fossil-free building operations “through the use of embedded energy networks,” said Nightingale spokesperson Kirsten Saunders.

The Nightingale project also seeks to have a minimum 7.5 NatHERS thermal rating and include water harvesting and productive gardens, according to Saunders.

Writing in The Conversation, Naomi Stead, Associate Professor in Architecture at The University of Queensland, points out that projects like Nightingale take a “triple bottom line” approach that emphasises social, environmental and financial benefits for owners.

The trend towards mid-size, medium-density housing is apparent in the area, with 13 other developments planned or in progress along the #19 tram route that follows Sydney Rd.

This medium-density housing is touted as the solution to the urban housing problem, balancing the livability of spacious apartments with affordability.

With prices ranging from above $400,000 to almost $700,000, Nightingale may be stretching the definition of affordability, but for young professional first-home buyers this could be an appealing option.

The promise of sustainability, social good and an inner-city location may help to get them over the line.

The site advertising the development represents potential owners as under-45, first-home buyers with an interest in the shared spaces and a desire for “a highly sustainable development”.

The survey of Nightingale’s purchaser list had 160 respondents, reflecting a high demand for this alternative style of development.

The site currently houses Kinki Gerlinki – a fashion retail store – whose owner, Anthony Patton, told The Age he has been approached many times by developers, but this offer, which includes retail space and an apartment without a mortgage, was too good to turn down.

The soon-to-be Nightingale site. Photo: Scott Robinson
The soon-to-be Nightingale site. Photo: Scott Robinson

This latest Nightingale project joins two others in various stages of development. The first encountered barriers in the planning stage after objections were raised regarding its waiver of parking allocations, with fears that the lack of parking provision would create congestion in the surrounding streets.

Residents of the Nightingale development, however, had no intention of owning cars and had chosen the apartments on the basis of proximity to public transport and cycling routes. The matter was resolved and local councillors voiced support for the development.

Plans for subsequent Nightingale developments have also been met with objections. According to the council, “car parking, architectural aesthetic and heritage, height and impacts on construction, solar panels and property values” were the key issues raised.

Austin Maynard Architects’ brief for Nightingale 3.0 aims to address these concerns, calling it “a type of love letter to Brunswick’s eclectic heritage”.

The Nightingale project team “is awaiting feedback from Moreland City Council on their review of the submissions prior to formulating a response or altering the project proposal,” said Kirsten Saunders from Nightingale.

Regarding height and construction, other more traditional developments both completed and planned in the area are equally tall and similarly disruptive.

As the survey of potential buyers shows, hundreds of would-be buyers are signing up to become future Nightingale residents, and this model is likely to expand.

Although it is still being tested, this new model for development promises to curtail profiteering by developers, create environmentally sustainable and socially beneficial spaces, and offers a new vision for housing in urban Melbourne.

By Scott Robinson

Colanzi runs for re-election as Yarra City Mayor

Mayor Cr Roberto Colanzi’s term is up next month after stepping  into the role in November last year.

Cr-Roberto-Colanzi2012_7Colanzi’s achievements in the last 12 months speaking volumes, with the council named Sustainable city of the year for 2016 at the Keep Victoria Beautiful Awards, as well as progressing on planning matters across the city.

As Director of the Yarra Energy Foundation since 2012, Colanzi noted one of his priorities at the beginning of his term to be promoting environmentally sustainable architecture.

“Council has invested significant resources into taking action in the areas of climate action, including but not limited to, the built environment and sustainable transport, water sensitive urban design, and other measures.” says Colanzi in a Yarra city media release.

Yet his efforts were not just focused on the council’s environmental footprint. Over the past year Colanzi has worked with the council and other organizations to tackle the big issues affecting the Yarra community.

“The most immediate stuff was a whole range of planning matters.” He tells Yarra Reporter in an interview.

“We have a population of around 90,000 residents, but we have something like 14,000 small businesses. They employ 60,000 people, so our population virtually doubles day in, day out.” Colanzi said.

Before the end of his term, the council will begin rolling out parking sensors, starting with the Richmond precinct bordered by Bridge Rd, Punt Rd, Swan St and Church St.

“It’ll be in the residential areas where we’ve identified there is competition between residents and people who are visiting.” He says.

Colanzi has been a long-time member of the community living in Fitzroy for the last 13 years.

The Yarra community is known for its open and inclusive sense of community, Colanzi is no different, recognising the many varied and unique people within the community facing diverse problems.

“The passion and diversity of the Yarra community has continued to both inspire and humble me.” He said in his last address in the Yarra News.

 Colanzi says the Yarra artist community are facing ‘gentrification’ of the area, being priced out by developers buying up spaces suitable for arts practice.

“There is still a place for them but it’s a function of economics and supply and demand, we’ve seen increased development and we’ve seen property prices increase,” he said.

He is committed to working with the arts community to ensure they maintain a strong presence in the Yarra; initiatives such as the Collingwood Arts Precinct are designed to ensure artists have a place in the short and long-term.

 “I know one [art gallery] that is also providing artists space now when once upon a time it was just a gallery. They still have the gallery function but they’ve reconfigured it slightly so they can provide studio spaces.” He said.

Colanzi is running for re-election in the upcoming council election on October 22.

By Kathryn Lewis

11 Reasons Why The Yarra Is Ace: A World Photo Day Celebration

It’s world photo day and we want to celebrate 177 years of photography by showcasing what makes the City of Yarra so amazing. Here are just a few reasons that we’re humbled to be part of the Yarra community.

1. Respecting and acknowledging the Wurundjeri people, who are the traditional owners of this land.



2.  The art – fine art, street art, performance art, you name it, we got it.


Installation of James Bonnici’s new solo exhibition at Lindberg Galleries. @lindberggalleries @jamesbonniciart

A photo posted by LINDBERG GALLERIES (@lindberggalleries) on



The most creative traffic light busking I have ever seen! #busking #circusact #circus #hoddlestreet #melbourne 👌😂😜

A photo posted by c o r r i n e | n e w m a n (@rinnie_newman) on



3. With hundreds of places to park your behind, food definitely makes the list.


A photo posted by @cookingwithangandnik on





4. Inclusion, acceptance, tolerance and humanity feature strongly throughout the Yarra community.

When he left traces of rainbow prints so you won’t get lost 🌈 #morning #coffeehunting #gertrudest #victoria #melbourne #rainbow

A photo posted by Anisa Ornella Octaviana (@ornellanor) on



@cityofyarra we salute you. 👍 even if I did get a parking fine in Smith Street…

A photo posted by Blanka Dudas (@icamebyboat) on



5. The diversity, rich culture, beautiful colours and flavours. Without these we’d probably be South Yarra (not that there’s anything wrong with that).


#johnstonstreetfiesta #spanish #festival #paella #hispanic #melbourne 💃

A photo posted by SOPHIA ARGIRIOU | MELBOURNE (@emeraldwink) on



Come celebrate Melbourne’s vibrant hispanic community, today is the final day of the #johnstonstreetfiesta for 2015.

A photo posted by Food/events/bars/restaurants (@melbournetodo) on




6. There’s a never-ending list of things to see and do.

Here’s to capturing the last days of the Gertrude Street Projection Festival @_gspf.

A photo posted by True Tribe (@true_tribe) on




7. Who could forget Mary Rogers helping people cross the street over on Bridge Road in Richmond


// councils efforts to represent women via their social media streams.



8. I’m going to leave this one blank because i don’t know how to describe whatever this is.



9. Love it or hate it the deconstructed coffee is said to have originated in Abbotsford…



Oops wrong one, sorry about that. Here it is…



10. The iconic Edinburgh Gardens. A place for friends, family and community.



Which more importantly, is the location of a Pikachu.



11. And last but not least is Yarra’s commitment to sustainability.




Unfortunately Kanye’s Pablo pop-up store didn’t make the list, better luck next time buddy.


By Tiyana Matliovski