Last week it was announced that Australia will be the host destination for the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2017—solidifying its reputation as an emerging food lovers’ paradise.

The announcement was made by William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants alongside Tourism Australia Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson at the Chefs’ Feast, a dinner for the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs, held the day before the 2016 awards, which took place in New York.

“Having kicked off our global tour in the U.S., The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has chosen to move to Australia for 2017 because—like New York—it is one of the most exciting gastronomic destinations in the world,” Drew told Smart Meetings. “What’s more, its food and drink offering is unique, from its raw materials and producers to its chefs, restaurateurs and winemakers.

“We know that the prospect of exploring the Australian food landscape will be very attractive for chefs, media and food-world influencers, and we are working with Tourism Australia and Visit Victoria to ensure visitors to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in Melbourne in 2017 enjoy wide-ranging and stimulating experiences.”

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is a celebration of global gastronomy bringing together a unique community of visionaries across the culinary landscape. The annual awards are based on the votes of The Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of almost 1,000 international leaders in the restaurant community.

Australia’s culinary reputation has been thriving over recent years, and several of its own restaurants made the list in 2015: Attica, Quay, Sepia and Brae each received recognition. Since the start of Restaurant Australia, a food and wine campaign that launched in 2013 by Tourism Australia, food and wine spend has grown over $1 billion.

Tourism Australia will be working with Visit Victoria and Wine Australia to help host the awards.

“A number of locations in Australia were considered before Melbourne was selected to host the core event program,” Ronson told Smart Meetings. “Melbourne is home to some of Australia’s best food and wine experiences, is highly practiced at delivering world-class food and wine events and has the necessary infrastructure to host the awards. The city is also home to Ben Shewry’s Attica, which has been on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for a number of years.”

What’s Cooking Down Under?

No one type of cuisine comes to mind when thinking about Australia—so what is the cultural melting pot country known for?

“Australia’s rich multicultural heritage has created a food and wine culture that is unique to Australia and is not limited to a particular style or cuisine,” says Ronson. “However, the food and wine is underpinned by our people, place and produce. People who are not bound by tradition and feel free of constraints to create new and innovate dishes, our fuse many different styles to create their own. Australia as a place fosters this with its sense of space and a pristine natural environment that produces our bountiful supply of fresh produce, including a vast offering of fresh seafood.”

Australia always receives high marks for its pristine beaches, safe travel and year-round optimal weather, but food is also a substantial factor when groups consider destination travel. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the chefs, tourism boards and awareness campaigns, the continent is no longer overlooked as a foodie destination.

New to Melbourne

There’s a lot happening in Melbourne has a number of new hotel developments including the Four Points by Sheraton, in the heart of the Docklands area of the city, which is set to open in January 2017. The Next Hotel Melbourne is set to open as part of an AU $110 million development in Melbourne city centre. The new 300-room property will also include retail and commercial spaces.

On the Melbourne dining scene, Heston Blumenthal’s groundbreaking restaurant Dinner by Heston is an exciting addition to the city. The restaurant offers a Private Dining Room, accommodating up to 10 guests, where guests can indulge in dishes that are inspired by as far back as the 1300s.