Hellenic Museum

The Hellenic Museum is dedicated to the celebration, understanding and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of ancient and modern Greece. It is a cultural hub that supports arts, film, music, architecture and visual performance with a Hellenic flavour. Housed in the historic Former Royal Mint building, the Museum is home to the long-term collection Gods, Myths & Mortals: Greek Treasures across the Millennia from the iconic Benaki Museum, Athens. The collection provides a snapshot of Greek history, from Classical, to Byzantine, Post-Byzantine, and Neo-Hellenic, winding through 8,000 years of Greek civilisation around the ground floor of the Mint, including the original gold vault. The Museum’s cultural programming is accentuated through dynamic and diverse events held throughout the year, from the popular Summer Cinema program to theatre, live music and lectures. School tours of the collections are enhanced by a high quality bilingual education program. Sean Godsell’s award-winning MPavilion is also housed in the Museum’s leafy courtyard creating a lovely juxtaposition between contemporary design and the heritage-listed building.


Philip Vakos
Hellenic Museum

Philip Vakos shot to fame a few years back through his time on MasterChef, and has since developed quite a name for himself as a chef and restaurateur, not only in Melbourne, but nationally. Having grown up in Tasmania, spending hours in the kitchen with two Cretan grandmothers, Philip was taught that balancing spice in Greek food was a fine art, ‘Keep it simple, but keep them guessing’ they said.

Islamic Museum of Australia

The Islamic Museum of Australia is a not-for-profit foundation founded in May 2010 with the purpose of establishing the first Islamic Museum in Australia. It aims to showcase the rich artistic heritage and historical contributions of Muslims in Australia and abroad through the display of various artworks and historical artefacts.


Samira El Khafir
Islamic Museum

Samira El Khafir is a cook, mother of three, author of Eat with love, owner of Modern Middle Eastern Catering, and the finalist of the 2013 series of MasterChef Australia. Her first cookbook EAT WITH LOVE was published in August 2013. Samira is currently ambassador for PANDA post and antenatal depression association, and ambassador for A Taste of Harmony.

Samira’s passion for Middle Eastern food comes from the heart and the home. Her parents introduced Samira to the world of Middle Eastern food with the big banquets her parents used to have for family and friends.

Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum of Australia is an inclusive, interactive Museum which explores and celebrates being Jewish in an Australian context. With four permanent galleries and two changing exhibition spaces, the Museum brings to life the diversity of Jewish culture and Australian Jewish life. It portrays the diverse experience of a vibrant community that is an integral part of Australia’s rich multicultural society. The Jewish Museum of Australia warmly invites you to engage with culture, learn about history and connect with stories.

Guy Hamawi

Guy Hamawi
Jewish Museum

With a heritage deep rooted in the splendour of Jewish Sephardi Mediterranean cuisine, Guy Hamawi is no stranger to electrifying people’s palettes.

Inspired by his travels and lust for life, Guy’s new-age take on traditional Middle Eastern dishes needs to be tasted to be fully appreciated. Incorporating vibrant colours and rich flavours, he leaves no stone unturned when it comes to creating dishes that are as appealing to the eyes as they are to the tastebuds.

Guy’s dinner party catering services now have Melbourne foodies buzzing with excitement as his weekends are filled with bringing Mediterranean fusion delights right to their homes, hearts, and souls.

Museo Italiano

The Museo Italiano at Co.As.It. was opened in 2010 in the heart of Carlton, Melbourne’s Little Italy, with funding from the State Government’s Cultural Precincts Enhancement Project. A modern multimedia exhibit, the Museo tells the story of the Italian migration to, and presence in Australia, with a focus on Carlton. The Museo is an integral part of the Co.As.It. Italian Language, Culture and Heritage Department, where it works in close collaboration with the Italian Historical Society, which was founded by Sir James Gobbo in 1981 with the mission of collecting, preserving and sharing the Italian Australian story. As well as a busy educational program, the Museo runs an active calendar of exhibitions and cultural events – lectures, workshops, film screenings and live music nights. The Museo Italiano is a vibrant cultural hub where people from all walks of life from the Italian and wider Australian community get together to share, enjoy, and create Italian Australian culture. The Museo Italiano is committed to being relevant to the present life of the community and to fostering intercultural dialogue.

Giulia Biviano

Giulia Biviano
Museo Italiano

Giulia Biviano was born in Sicily and at the age of 12, Giulia migrated to Australia with her parents, brothers and sisters and settled in a little country town in Victoria. Giulia grew up working on the family farm with her parents and siblings.

In 2007, the idea of presenting a Cooking Demonstration for the Società Isole Eolie became a reality for Giulia. It was a great success which spring boarded her into writing her first cookbook Dolci di Casa Nostra, first published in 2010.

Giulia has appeared on Channel 31’s ‘Regional Italian Cuisine’ television program, alongside the award-winning Caterina Borsato; on the SBS Italian Radio Program and at The Sicilian Association of Australia’s cooking school.

Giulia prides herself in ensuring that traditional Aeolian recipes are recorded for future generations, and has her assistants, her three sisters to thank; but her husband, Joe, who is also the official taste-tester, is her greatest supporter, with his advice, patience and above all, love.

Cook Off 2016 Judges


Adam Saad

Islamic Museum of Australia

Adam Saad is an Australian rules footballer who plays for the Gold Coast Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). As a child, playing Australian rules quickly became about more than just the love of the game. Saad found it was his best tool to break down any social barriers for a Muslim boy from the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick who ingrained himself into society with a bounce of the Sherrin. Now at the age of 21 Saad is one of three practising Muslims playing in the AFL and the only one from any major sporting code in Queensland.

Justine Sless

Justine Sless

Jewish Museum of Australia

Justine Sless is a comedian, broadcaster, writer and creative director of Melbourne Jewish Comedy Festival. Her humour has been described as suburban as a supermarket trolley, dry as a martini and as comforting as Kugel on a cold winter’s night.

George Donikian

George Donikian

Hellenic Museum

George Donikian is a television and radio journalist, and all round Australian media identity. Born in Sydney, George began his media career in 1974 as a broadcaster on Radio Station 4AM in Far North Queensland. He was lured back to NSw where he worked for Radio 2WL in Wollongong then as an announcer, newsreader and sports reporter in 1979 for commercial station 2WS.

In 1980, tv guru Bruce Gyngell hand-picked him to become the first multicultural news anchor for Channel 0, which would become SBS. In 1985, he launched SBS television in Adelaide and Perth. He was poached by the Nine Network where he worked on the Coast to Coast program with Graham Kennedy and hosted Nine’s Wide World of Sports; Sports Sunday; National 9 Morning News; and The Today Show.

In the mid-’90s George become a household name as the national weekend news anchor on Ten which led him to read Melbourne News at 5 from 2007-2010.

George has appeared in feature films, television series and he has hosted many awards ceremonies including the Ethnic Business Awards; and the World Architectural Awards.

He is currently an ambassador for Carlton Football Club; Australia Day in Melbourne; Redkite; and Melbourne City FC.


Magica Fossati

Museo Italiano

Magica Fossati is the executive producer and one of the main presenters of the SBS Italian program, which is broadcast nationally every day from 8am till 10am on SBS Radio 2.

Born in Italy, Magica graduated in English language and literature at the University of Turin with a thesis on Aboriginal women’s autobiographies and migrated to Australia in 2003, falling in love with Melbourne’s diversity.

She started working as a presenter for the SBS Italian program in 2004 and also worked as a broadcast journalist for the SBS Radio English language program, called at the time World View. Magica has also collaborated with Milan’s Radio Popolare and been a regular guest of RAI Radio 3 in Italy. She is passionate about food and comes from a family of great cooks, but admits she is more of a “buona forchetta” who enjoys good food cooked by others.

Cook Off 2016 Hosts


Libbi Gorr


Libbi Gorr is a broadcaster, writer and performer, born and bred in Melbourne. Then she went to Sydney. What came back 17 years later is an award winning, multifaceted creative, who has carved a unique path in pursuit of the authentic humour in everyday life.

Joining the 774 ABC Melbourne Broadcast team in 2012 has been a joyous homecoming for Libbi. Presenting the Sunday show showcasing ideas, arts and entertainment is the main game, as well as interchanging for weekday presenters. But you’ll also feel her presence in the greater 774 ABC Melbourne reach with special events and outside broadcasts.

As an interviewer, Gorr is bold and sensitive, thought provoking and irreverent. As a program maker, she is innovative and surprising. Libbi’s interests are broad, spanning politics, sport, gender issues, film and television, body image and self esteem. And all of this is built on the foundation of Libbi’s ‘Elle McFeast’ portfolio, which made Libbi an “It girl” of the 1990s here in Australia and widely acclaimed overseas.

Libbi is acknowledged in The Who’s Who of Australian Women and has been the subject of Archibald Prize Finalist Portraits, in both painting and photography. Her television documentaries have sold around the world and been awarded by the New York Festival of Television.

Outside work, Libbi has two children with her long term partner, “He Who Must Be Obeyed, and I must try harder to do so”. But she never ever truly will, will she?

Libbi’s two books The A-Z of Mummy Manners: An Etiquette Guide to Dealing with Other Children’s Mothers, and a lift the flap book A Bedtime Poem for Edible Children, both delightfully mine the rich world of suburban family making, where Libbi currently resides.

Libbi holds an arts law degree from the University of Melbourne, and is a passionate believer in authentic relationships, further education and the importance of guilty pleasures.

Brian Nankervis

Brian Nankervis


Brian is a performer, writer and producer and co-hosts The Friday Revue with Richelle Hunt on 774 ABC Melbourne.

He was a primary teacher who fled the classroom to become a waiter at theatre restaurant, The Last Laugh.

He was a writer/performer on the hospital soap opera Let The Blood Run Free and was a regular on Hey Hey It’s Saturday as the tortured street poet Raymond J Bartholomeuz.

For the last eleven years, Brian has been writing, producing and co hosting the SBS music quiz show, RocKwiz.

In 2013, Brian narrated and acted in Vandemonian Lags for the MONA in Hobart.

In 2012, Brian hosted a series for the Working Dog team on Channel Seven, Pictures Of You.

Brian does studio warm ups for television shows, contributes to The Age, and radio, including 774 ABC Melbourne and RRR.

He is an experienced MC for a wide variety of public events and corporate functions. Brian regularly performs a one-hour poetry show in schools.