Rising’s food and drink program was already in impressive shape.

We had the Dinner Party, a two-night, instantly-sold-out event with Dave Verheul (exec chef at Embla and Lesa), Andreas Papadakis (exec chef at Tipo 00 and Osteria Ilaria), Rosheen Kaul (head chef at Etta), and Kay-Lene Tan (executive pastry chef at Coda and Tonka). We also had Late-Night Yum Cha with Tony Tan, Shandong Mama, Crystal Jade and Dainty Sichuan, plus Tjanabi, a one-off celebration of contemporary Indigenous cooking with N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM.

All three events are scheduled to go down at Mess Hall, Rising’s bustling food and drink hub at Melbourne Town Hall. Now the festival has revealed details – big details – for other key venues and precincts.

The Birrarung
As you wander the riverbank at Birrarung Marr, admiring the immense floating sculpture Wandering Stars, you’ll be able to stop for charcoal-grilled snacks courtesy of Andrew McConnell and Troy Wheeler's Meatsmith. They’re planning fennel-glazed fried-chicken sandwiches, slow-cooked beef short ribs with pickled daikon, and fried potatoes with cultured cream and chives.

The park will be dotted with communal tables and toasty open fires, each equipped with a QR code for ordering food to directly. That’s right – no lining up, even for drinks such as Hunted & Gathered hot chocolate with a clove and orange marshmallow.

The Wilds
Over the river, David Moyle, the chef and restaurateur behind Hobart’s Franklin and Melbourne’s Longsong, is heading up the Lighthouse, a luminous pop-up restaurant at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The 130-seat al fresco diner is located at the top of the lawn, with sweeping views of the The Wilds, a temporary bamboo forest installed for Rising.

Moyle has put together an “approachable” three-course set menu, centred around seafood and vegetables, including river trout smoked to order. He plans to source the trout from a farm in the Yarra Valley, and cure it for three days prior to each service.

Melbourne’s favourite wine merchant, Blackhearts & Sparrows, has assembled the restaurant’s wine list, while gun bartending group Fancy Free (Ryan Noreiks, Rob Libecans and Matt Stirling, all ex-Black Pearl) is behind the cocktail selection, created with Jameson Whiskey. The Lighthouse is also a chance to try Bloody Moon, a decadent white chocolate Negroni created by Rising and Four Pillars.

Two extra kitchens, in the twisting groves of The Wilds, will cater to people looking for a more casual bite while wandering through the installation.

Chef Shannon Martinez of Smith & Daughters and the newly opened Lona Misa is running kitchen one with help from her Lona Misa collaborator Ian Curley, 1800 Lasagne’s Joey Kellock, Tuck Shop Takeaway’s Karina Serex and the team at Hector’s Deli.

Rather than a permanent crew, kitchen two is all about short-run collaborations. Capitano chef and co-owner Casey Wall has invited down Colin Wood of Poly, one of Sydney’s most exciting wine bars. Chase Kojima, the highly-regarded chef at Sydney’s Sokyo, is also flying south to team up with Lee Ho Fook’s Victor Liong (they own a Sydney restaurant, Chuuka, together).

Also on the cards: Atlas Dining’s Charlie Carrington and the dearly departed Bar Saracen, plus Anchovy chef Thi Le and her mystery guest. Each duo will spend just a few days cooking before moving on, so it’s worth timing your visit carefully.

As at Birrarung Marr, dining at The Wilds will be queue-less, with QR code ordering at communal tables spaced throughout the forest.

The Stock Exchange
Out the front of Melbourne Town Hall, you’ll find one of Rising’s most affordable, inclusive food experiences. The Stock Exchange will pour bowls of steaming soup to ward off the Melbourne winter, rotating through different broths each day, from Japanese ramen and Vietnamese pho to Peruvian aguadito and French consomme.

Overseeing the menu is Julia Busuttil-Nishimura, author of Ostro and A Year of Simple Food; social enterprise Free to Feed, which employs refugees and asylum seekers; and “artistic food practice” Long Prawn, which has worked across numerous festivals and events to deliver projects that are simultaneously thought-provoking and delicious.

Rising runs from May 26 to June 6, 2021.

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