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Good Beer Week : Smudge Eats

I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve been eating food for a while now. Years, in fact, and more often than not multiple times a day. I feel this makes me something of a connoisseur (just now, I had a bite from a piece of avocado-and-egg toast. I am unstoppable).

Yet, there are those out there who raise the gourmand mantle to a whole other level. With Good Beer Week upon us, it seemed the right time to chat with foodie experts Smudge. With a bastion of restaurants and cafes primed for the smorgasbord to come, co-founder Daniele Wilton dishes up the details.
 
“It was eight years ago when we started,” Wilton recalls. “A little bit before all these bloggers and Instagram people came out of the woodwork. We were just obsessed with food and travelling, and meeting passionate people. That was how we came up with the idea, but it’s definitely evolved. There’s so much competition now, but that’s good. There are so many bars and cafes and restaurants around the world, everyone is being well looked after. Basically we’re very big foodies, always eating out, always travelling. We wanted to create a lifestyle where we could do that all day, every day.”
 
Which is to say, Wilton and her cohorts – including co-founding mother and sister, Jonette and Kaitlyn – are living the dream. With 24 books under their belt (and a 25th on its way), the culinary travel publishers not only have their finger on Australia’s victual pulse, but are experts in showcasing what and where these meals can be found. They’ve won three international book awards – and though it hasn’t always been simple sailing – with our larder landscape stronger than ever you can expect to read a lot more from the Smudge team.
 
My Kitchen Rules, Masterchef, I definitely think [they’ve] given the food industry a lot of buzz. People at home can watch those shows and aspire to be like those chefs making these amazing recipes. Though I don’t actually cook very much. I’m more about eating out,” Wilton laughs. “But it’s also really good because it was able to get all of these amazing people out there, and they’re all now owning restaurants and cafes. I think it’s done a lot.”
 
As conversation moves towards Smudge’s engagement with Good Beer Week, talk is briefly interrupted by a frantic bout of barking in the background.
 
“Sorry, that’s just our dog, Smudge. He’s a little Yorkshire terrier. He sits up in my windowsill and barks at everything that walks past.
 
“We’ve partnered with Good Beer Week for two years now,” Wilton continues, “Last year, we did a similar thing, but it wasn’t as expansive. This year we’re running a $40 two-course menu across twenty of our restaurants. I think it’s exciting, because we get to include some of our very favourite restaurants and they get to include Good Beer Week as well. Because we’ve partnered with Mountain Goat Beer, it’s going to be great. I’m hoping to get along to most of those lunches within a week. That’s the goal.”
 
Delicious as this already sounds, Smudge have further enticements ahead. For the coffee lovers among you, you should probably just go ahead and start salivating now.
 
“We’re doing a coffee night with [General Assembly]. We're having the top Melbourne coffee people on a panel, asking them questions. That’ll be fun. And surrounding our books, we’re about to launch Speciality Coffees Melbourne, and with that we’re doing a big day of free coffee with all of our cafes around Melbourne. There will be around 50 cafes in one day giving out free coffee.”
 
Food and free coffee? I think I’ve found my people.
 
By Adam Norris

Experience the Smudge Eats Menu lunch series in 20 restaurants across Melbourne throughout Good Beer Week. Learn more about their publication at smudgeeats.com.au