Matt Wilkinson (Pope Joan) is taking over Junction’s kitchen in a brand new series that brings some of Melbourne’s top chefs to the Murray River.
Date. Saturday 26 November 2016
Tickets. $110 per person for a five course menu
Save the date as you don’t want to miss this one. Strictly limited tickets for this exciting dinner at Junction will open at the end of September.
Matt Wilkinson grew up between the rolling pastures and industrial jungle of Barnsley, South Yorkshire in the North of England. The child of publican parents, a passion for food and a cheeky ale became second nature. Learning the trade in the kitchen of London and Edinburgh, he truly honed his craft under two-Michelin starred chef, Martin Wishart.
Inspired by an urge to see the world, Matt left the UK kitchens behind, arriving in Melbourne in 2000. It wasn’t long before he became sous chef to Shannon Bennett at his acclaimed Vue de monde, in its original Carlton location. He took on his first head chef role at Alevansi in 2004, and received a coveted ‘chef’s hat’ in the 2005 The Age Good Food Guide.
In late 2005, an opportunity to work for Andrew McConnell at Circa, The Prince, was too good to pass up and Matt moved into the role of head chef when Andrew departed shortly after. While maintaining two chefs hats he began to shift focus, and – ahead of the trend – re-launched Circa in 2009 to showcase a produce-driven menu. His style of cooking incorporated seasonality and vegetables in an inspiring new way, which was embraced by Melbourne diners and food critics alike.
Late 2010 saw Matt depart Circa to open the café Pope Joan, in East Brunswick, with business partner Ben Foster. With its strong emphasis on locally-grown and seasonal fare, with a distinctly British twist, Pope Joan became a destination and it still has lines out the door for weekend breakfasts. The kitchen team tend the garden out the back of Pope Joan, which is a focal point that showcases to customers what is in season, and what is on the menu.
Six years on and Pope Joan has a bar, a fantastic little produce store called Hams and Bacon, and is now serving weeknight dinners. It has become a firm neighbourhood favourite.
In March 2012, Matt proudly published his first book, Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables. Showcasing 24 vegetable chapters and his favourite recipes for each, the book also offers tips on how to grow, harvest and get the most out of each vegetable. Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables has been translated into nine languages, sold 100,000 copies worldwide and wone Best Designed Cookbook at the 2013 Australian Publishing Awards.
Matt’s second book Mr Wilkinson’s Simply Dressed Salads was released in March 2015 and is already an international success. It is divided into seasonal sections in which Matt shares his favourite salad recipes, one for every week of the year. Complete with salad dressings and delicious cordial recipes to make use of the season’s glut, Mr Wilkinson’s Simply Dressed Salads shows that a salad is so much more than the sum of its parts.
In his spare time, Matt is also a regular contributor to delicious. Magazine and co-owner of slow-food outlet Spudbar. When he’s not at Pope Joan, you might find Matt having a drink at Gerald’s, or hanging out with his partner Sharlee and their hooligans, Finn & Jay, in their vegie garden at home.