1980s

1989 Slow Food International is founded

Slow Food symbolThe predecessor of Slow Food, Arcigola, began in Bra, Italy, the hometown of founder Carlo Petrini, who was horrified at seeing McDonalds in the historic centre of Rome. Slow Food International was founded in Paris in 1989. The name is an ironic way of saying no to fast food and means living an unhurried life, beginning at the table. Slow Food believes food, and food production, should be good, clean and fair.

1989 The Taste Festival first held in Hobart

Taste Festival logoThe Taste Festival is held on the Hobart Waterfront. It begins after Christmas and runs through until after New Year, with the River Derwent and Hobart’s historic wharves and Salamanca precinct providing the backdrop. The festival coincides with the Sydney to Melbourne yacht race and includes wine, beer and food stalls, tours, entertainment and tasting tables.

1989 Caffè e Cucina opens in Chapel Street

Caffe e Cucina logoThe new licensing laws allowed cafés to serve a glass of wine, a coffee or a complete meal. Caffè e Cucina, founded with the intention of re-creating the cafés of ‘Milano, Bologna, Firenze & Roma’ showed how it should be done. And the Italian-speaking waiters were very, very cute.

1989 food trends. French fries hot, crocodile steaks cold.

80s food trends - crocodile steaks not cool

According to Mode Australia, a now defunct magazine published by Australian Consolidated Press, French fries, fresh crab cakes and mesculun (sic) salads were very ‘hot’ at the end of the ’80s. On the other hand, crocodile steaks, doner kebabs and char-grilled anything were ‘cold’.   More

1989 Melbourne’s first bar opens

Dog's Bar logoThe Dogs’ Bar  was opened in St Kilda by Donleavy Fitzpatrick, who campaigned for years for more civilised drinking laws. It was Melbourne’s first bar, in a city that now claims to be the bar capital of the world, and remains popular for its wine by the glass, arty ambience and open fire.

1989 Sous vide cooking in Australia

Sous videThe sous vide (literally, under vacuum) technique involves cooking food vacuum-sealed in plastic at low temperatures. A precursor was Fernand Point’s chicken and truffle sealed in a pig’s bladder, at La Pyramide in France after WWI.  The technique was developed in the early ’70s to cook foie gras and was adopted by Tetsuya Wakuda for his confit of ocean trout.  He installed sous vide equipment in his restaurant at Rozelle in 1989.

1989 Heart Foundation Tick launched

Heart Foundation tick symbolThe Heart Foundation’s Pick the Tick food approval program was designed to help Australian shoppers make healthier food choices. Companies pay to have the Heart Foundation Tick endorsement on their products. The program has helped to lift awareness of healthy foods in Australian supermarkets and stores, although some of the endorsements have proved controversial.

1989 Tetsuya’s opens in Rozelle.

Tetsuya WakudaOne of the few Australian restaurants ever to make it into the top ten of Restaurant magazine’s best restaurants in the world, Tetsuya’s started in a tiny building in Sydney’s Rozelle.  Moving to the city in 2000, Tetsuya’s was the Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year in 2007. The fixed price degustation menu combines Australian, Japanese and classic French influences. The Tasmanian Ocean Trout is one of the signature dishes. More

1988 Sun-dried tomatoes all the rage

Sun-dried tomatoesTerry Durack’s essentials for a civilised weekend out of reach of a gourmet food store: olive oil and balsamic vinegar, walnut oil, sun-dried tomatoes, chèvre, King Island crème fraiche, Parmigiano, limes, basil, lemon grass, chillis, ginger, garlic, anchovies and Maldon Sea Salt.

1988 The Bush Tucker Man TV series

Bush Tucker Man video coverIn the TV series, The Bush Tucker Man, first screened in 1988, Army major Les Hiddins cruised around northern Australia discovering the kakadu plum and waxing lyrical about lemon myrtle, pepper leaf, wattleseed, bush tomatoes and quandongs. ‘Bush tucker’ became a talking point for the first time.

1988 First Australian ‘Subway’ opens in Perth

Subway Chicken Sub

Founded by Fred de Luca in Connecticut in 1965, the  Subway chain of sandwich shops was soon an expanding franchise operation. The first franchise in Australia opened in Perth in 1988.  Australia is the brand’s largest market outside North America. As of 2011, Subway had about 430 more outlets Australia-wide than McDonald’s, but only about 2% of take-away market share vs Macca’s 19.5%. (IBIS World research)

1987 The Liquor Control Act 1987

Red wineThe Niewenhuysen Review was a licensing system review commissioned by the Victorian government. It was let by an economist and had broad terms of reference with a focus on deregulation. The new Liquor Control Act 1987 implemented most of the review’s recommendations, relaxing trading hours and removing many restrictions on licensees. The Act was intended to introduce a European-style drinking culture to Victoria and allowed alcohol to be served without food in Victorian restaurants and cafés.

1987 The Fresh Food People

Fresh food people logoWoolworths launches its new tag line  – The Fresh Food People. The line was created by advertising agency Leo Burnett, although there seems to be a dispute as to who actually thought of it. The line was eventually used by Safeway in Victoria after the account was moved from local agency Mattingly.

1987 Tasmanian scallop fishery closed

Tasmanian scallopCommercial scallop fishing in Tasmania began in the Derwent River estuary in the 1900s, extending to the d’Entrecasteaux Channel and other east coast areas. By the late 1980s, the beds were so depleted that the fishery was closed for eight years. The Tasmanian scallop fishery is now opened on a seasonal basis and licenses are only issued to those with prior involvment in the industry.

1987 Pizza Hut merger

Pizza Hut logoPizza Hut’s owner, PepsiCo Australia, merged the company with the Dial-a-Dino’s network of Home Delivery Units. The Pizza Hut merger established the chain as the national leader in the fast food industry.

1987 Black Monday, 19 October

The ‘80s ‘greed is good’ philosophy came to an abrupt end when the stock markets crashed on Black Monday, 19 October. Many blamed computer trading for the severity of the crash. In Australia the ridiculous lending of the recently deregulated banks had created a property frenzy and surging demand. The crash led to the ‘recession we had to have’ in the early ‘90s and hit top-end restaurants hard.

1987 Victoria extends retail trading hours

In 1987, the trading hours for retailers in Victoria were extended to include Saturday afternoon trading, a move that changed the whole shopping experience. However, it was almost another decade until Sunday trading was introduced. Other states took different approaches to extended retail trading hours, with Western Australia remaining the most restrictive.

1987 Jean Jaques by the Sea opens

Jean JacqJean Jaques by the Seaues Lale-Demoz had arrived in Melbourne in 1979 and opened a seafood restaurant in North Melbourne, which was soon awarded three hats in The Age Good Food Guide. He then converted an under-used bathing pavilion at St Kilda for fine dining. Jean Jaques by the Sea offered a classically French approach to seafood and an outlook over the Bay.

1987 Iain Hewittson opens Last Aussie Fishcaf

A juke box featured at the Last Aussie FishcafAfter the refinement of Fleurie and Champagne Charlie’s, Iain Hewitson went casual  with his Last Aussie Fishcaf in South Melbourne, transplanting 1950s US culture into Melbourne, complete with jukebox, rock and roll dancers and the infamous limbo competition. The Caf was part of a move towards seafood in the dining scene.

1987 The Mackay Report on Food

Social researcher Hugh Mackay turned his attention to food. His 1987 Mackay Report, Food and Social Change, available in the National Library of Australia, categorised major responses to what he called the ‘Age of Anxiety’:  Adaptors ( Experimenters, Fast Eaters or Faddists) and Regressors (True Conservatives, Neo-Conservatives and Self-Indulgers / Compensators). He also noted the ubiquity of Caesar Salad.

1986 First James Halliday annual wine guide

James Halliday

James Halliday

Australian wine critic, vigneron and wine judge James Halliday began writing about wine in 1979.  In 1986, he produced his first annual guide to Australian wines. Since 2000, this has been called the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. The book and the associated website cover nearly 3000 wineries, with more than 70,000 wine reviews. Halliday has won numerous awards and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010.

1986/87 Peters and Pauls have widest icecream range

Peters and Pauls were brands of QUF (formerly Queensland United Foods). The range of icecream products included : Drumstick, Monaco Bar, Skona, Choc Wedge, Crazy Critters, Billabong, Split, Garfield Hunger-Buster, Hava Heart, Nutty Pop, Eskimo Pie, Wild, Choco Malt, Jelly Tip, Two-in-One, Patch, Twister, Dixie, Icy Pole, Popsicle, Frosty Fruits and Barney Banana. It was the widest range on the market.

1986 The Age Cheap Eats Guide launched

Alan Attwood, the Cheap Eats Guide‘s inaugural editor, writes: ‘Ah, 1986. What a year. Bob Hawke was prime minister of Australia, Allan Border (“Captain Grumpy”) led the Australian cricket team and the likes of Whitney Houston, Madonna and Robert Palmer ruled on radio… Concluding the introduction to the 1986 guide, I wrote: “This may well be a collector’s item — it may not be long before the $12.50 limit is remembered with fond nostalgia.” That $12.50 (for two sit-down courses) was our arbitrary target for “cheap”.’

1986 Mad cow disease identified in Britain

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was first identified as a major problem in 1986 and traced to the practice of feeding cattle on animal protein supplements, allowing infected animal products to be ingested. In the mid 1990s it was established that mad cow disease, in the form of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease, could be transmitted to humans who ate meat from infected animals. In 1996 British beef was subject to bans from many countries. The EU lifted the ban in 1999.

1986 Margaret Fulton’s Asian cookbook

Margaret Fulton's Asian cookbooxMargaret Fulton’s Asian cookbook the ‘Encyclopedia of Asian and Oriental Cookery’ encouraged families to pick up the chopsticks and try something new. Asian vegetables became mainstream, with Pak Choy and Bok Choy joining beans, cauliflower, zucchini and broccoli on the supermarket shelves. By 2011, one survey showed 66% of Australian children could use chopsticks.

1986 Fringe Benefits Tax introduced

The federal Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) was introduced on 1 July 1986. FBT was payable on restaurant meals, which were considered a fringe benefit for employees. According to Restaurant and Catering Australia, this had an immediate and dramatic effect on business entertaining, particularly the business lunch, and had many restaurants struggling.

Mid 80s The term ‘functional foods’ emerges

Functional foods have added health benefitsThe term functional foods was first used in Japan to refer to foods with added ingredients that claim to provide a health benefit to consumers beyond the benefits provided by ordinary foods themselves. Such products have also been referred to as “nutraceuticals” or “designer foods.” The Japanese government instituted an approval system for functional foods in 1991.

1985 Woolworths buys Safeway

By  1985, Safeway operated 126 supermarkets across Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. Woolworths bought out the the American interests in Safeway, which put their share of the grocery market above Coles and increased the dominance of the “big two” in the market. The Safeway brand continued to be used in Victoria until 2008 but is now being phased out.

1985 Birth of the Flat White

Flat white menu - Moors Espresso BarThe first documented appearance of Australia’s most popular coffee order was at Moors Espresso Bar in Sydney’s Chinatown in 1985. The proprietor, Alan Preston, hailed from North Queensland, where Italian café owners had long been offering white coffee in three variations – cappuccino, flat or Vienna. Preston coined the abbreviation “Flat White” when he opened Moors, his first café in Sydney. More

1985 First Australian Sizzler opens

Sizzler storeSizzler was an American idea – the first one was  opened in 1958 in California by Del and Helen Johnson. The first Sizzler in Australia opened in the Brisbane suburb of Annerley in 1985 (and it’s still there). Sizzler restaurants, offering steaks and an all-you-can-eat buffet, then proliferated all over Australia. There was even one in Darwin. After their ’90s heyday their popularity began to decline and by 2017 only 16 remain. Most are in Queensland. More

1985 Sydney’s first community garden

Sydney's first community garden - logoGlovers Community Garden was created on 600 square metres of north facing, sloping land when the Rozelle Community Centre obtained use of the patch from the local hospital. The hospital also funded the chainlink fence surrounding the garden and provided water. The hospital has gone but the garden persists.

1984 Year of the Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date PuddingSydney Morning Herald writer, David Dale, nominated Sticky Date Pudding as the signature dish of 1984.  The invention of the dish,  known in the UK as Sticky Toffee Pudding,  is generally attributed to Francis Coulson of the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in England’s Lake District in 1967, although this has been challenged by writers from Scotland and Yorkshire.

1984 Retail trading hours extended in NSW

Retail trading hours were extended to allow all stores in New South Wales to trade on Saturday afternoons. This largely benefited the major stores and big supermarket chains, as small retailers were already deregulated. Progress towards deregulated retail trading hours has varied from state to state, with Western Australia remaining the most regulated.

1984 Debit cards and EFTPOS

EFTPOS symbolElectronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS)was trialled by Westpac bank and Woolworths, and all the major banks were soon on board. However, in 1985 Australians were still using cash for 90% of all transactions.

1984 First ’boutique brewers’

Red Back Beer labelThe Old Ballarat Brewery in Victoria and the Sail and Anchor Pub Brewery in Western Australia were the first  to challenge the dominance of the big brewers. The Sail and Anchor team then opened the  Matilda Bay Brewing Company in 1985. Starting with its own pub in Freemantle, the company went on to produce the popular Redback wheat beer in 1987. It gained a national market. The boutique brewers were subsequently acquired by the Fosters Group.>>A Short History of Craft Beer

1984 First Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide

Good Food Guide hatThe first Good Food Guide, edited by Leo Schofield, went from The Abbey in Glebe to Zorba the Buddha in Darlinghurst, and included a vegetarian restaurant run by the Rajneeshis, or Orange People, where, so the Guide stated, “the staff are also very nice to children”. The only two restaurants to earn three hats were Berowra Waters Inn  and Peter Doyle’s Reflections.

1984 First Symposium of Australian Gastronomy

Convenor of the Symposium of Australian Gastronomy

Barbara Santich

The first Symposium of Australian Gastronomy was held in Adelaide, convened by Michael Symons, Gay Bilson and Graham Pont. It was attended by Don Dunstan, Barbara Santich and other food luminaries. Sub-titled The Upstart Cuisine, the symposium took an academic approach to the topic, but is generally agreed to have done “nothing but good for Australian food and cooking” (Stephen Downes: Advanced Australian Fare).

More

1983 Shape milk launched in NSW

Shape milkShape milk was the first low-fat specialty milk to be launched on the market. It had high calcium and high protein, and was promoted to older women as a good alternative to help prevent osteoporosis.

 

1983 Iain Hewitson opens Fleurie

Iain Hewitson - owner/chef at FleurieDescribed by Iain Hewitson as “the last BYO in Melbourne”, Fleurie, in a Toorak side street, offered superb food, attentive staff and a great dining experience. The menu was fixed price, and the offerings were generous. My most memorable dish was Peach Melba – a  perfectly poached white peach with intense raspberry coulis and house-made icecream. Simple but ambrosial.

1983 Ferran Adrià arrives at el Bulli

After running a military kitchen during his national service, Ferran Adrià was offered the role of chef de partie at el Bulli in Roses, Spain. Although he was only 22 when he joined el Bulli, he became head chef 18 months later. In 2006, the restaurant was named the best in the world. El Bulli is now closed.

1983 First home-delivered pizza

Domino's were first to offer home-delivered pizzaThe first Australian Domino’s store opens in Springwood, Queensland, becoming the first in Australia to offer home-delivered pizza.

1982 Yoplait Yogurt launched

Yoplait yogurt logoPrior to 1982, yoghurt was consumed mainly by recent immigrants and health fanatics. It was largely sold by health food stores and viewed as a bit weird.  Yoplait  Yogurt was the largest selling brand in France and was licensed in Australia by Plumrose. It was launched with a range of fruit flavours, using the line “It’s French for yogurt” and revolutionised the yoghurt market in Australia. More

1982 Sydney Morning Herald launches ‘Good Living’

The Good Living supplement first appeared in Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday June 15, 1982. Leo Schofield wrote the cover story  about dining options in public institutions. The founding editor was Jenny Tabakoff. Good Living originally extended beyond food with fashion and lifestyle articles.

1982 Michael Symons publishes One Continuous Picnic

The first edition of One Continuous Picnic: A History of Australian Eating propounded the idea that Australian cuisine developed from the need for portable food during early colonial days. With a PhD in the sociology of cuisine from Flinders University, Symons brought an academic approach to the subject of food in Australia. An updated edition was published in 2007.

1981 First Donut King store

donut king logoThe first Donut King outlet opened in March 1981, in the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Bondi, Sydney. It was operated by the Papoulious family, selling primarily donuts and coffee.  A new partner, Murray d’Almeida, joined the business two years later. He subsequently bought out the family and founded Retail Food Group which now manages the franchise operation in Australia and internationally. More

1980 The term ‘foodie’ invented

The Official Foodie HandbookAlthough the term foodie, for someone who is keenly interested in all things food, was first used by Gael Greene of New York magazine on June 2 1980, it is often attributed to Paul Levy and Ann Barr who used it in the title of their 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook.

1980 Kraft goes gourmet

By the 1980s, tastes were changing.  Kraft launched  fetta cheese, a satay sauce range and olives, as well as a range of low fat products.

1980 Kangaroo meat legalised in S.A.

Kangaroo meatEven when it became legal to sell kangaroo meat in South Australia this local game was slow to find its way onto menus. In 1993-4, because of the constitutional freedom of trade between the Australian States, it became legal to sell kangaroo meat for human consumption throughout Australia. Many conservationists still oppose its use.

1980 The Age Good Food Guide arrives

The Age already had a popular food section, which prompted the publication of the Guide. It was first edited by Claude Forell. There were just over 400 eating establishments mentioned in the first edition of The Age Good Food Guide, including pubs, wine bars, gourmet take-aways, cheap and cheerfuls and late-night cafés.

1980s Low fat a high priority

Low fat trendThe first branded, fat-reduced milks arrive, along with low fat salad dressings and cholesterol-free mayonnaise. The Australian Nutrition Foundation developed the Healthy Eating Pyramid, which recommended lots of complex carbohydrates, so we could all eat pasta without feeling guilty.

1980s Yum cha becomes popular

Yum chaLiterally ‘drink tea’, yum cha became popular in Australia in the early 1980s, first taking hold in the Chinatown establishments in Sydney and Melbourne. The Cantonese tradition seems to have come to Australia via Hong Kong. For most Australians, it’s more about the food (choosing from many small dishes that are presented on a tray or trolley) than about the tea itself.