Executive Chef Tony Panetta shows us around his kitchen, which caters for more than 1,000 events each year.
Walking into this huge kitchen – it’s 97 metres long! – you’d expect it to be absolute mayhem, with food everywhere, people shouting (the odd profanity), the air thick with flour, steam and all sorts. But it’s surprisingly peaceful. Perhaps, as this visit was mid-afternoon, this was the calm before the dinner service storm.
The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has the largest kitchen in the Southern Hemisphere. The bowl to mix salad in is so big that a petite person could easily bathe in it (maybe even with a +1 if they cosied up). And yet, despite the huge number of people that this kitchen serves, there’s actually ample shelf space to spare. A place for everything and everything in its place is very applicable to this well-organised, meticulously run kitchen.
And the man behind it all? Executive Chef Tony Panetta. Each year Tony and his team serve more than seven tonnes of beef and eight and a half tonnes of chicken, produce 18,300 litres of award-winning yoghurt, and pour more than 50,000 bottles of wine.
Wherever possible, Tony uses locally sourced ingredients and supports Victorian farmers. He wants to showcase the best and freshest produce from across the state. It’s all in keeping with his philosophy: “Made fresh, in house, by hand.”