Gourmet Safaris July 2021 – 23rd Birthday newsletter

July 2021 update

Dear friends

Welcome to Gourmet Safaris if this is your first newsletter…and welcome back dear friends if you’ve been with us for some time.

We’ve been busy planning safaris for the second half of this most unusual year and are so grateful to you for your patience while waiting for new dates to be available.

We are trying, like many other businesses, to make the best of strange times and not have to cancel too many upcoming safaris.

We have decided not to release dates for the second part of this year until lockdown is ended…hard to predict when…but hopefully soon.

We have a number of safaris we are sure will bring you joy and deliciousness. We will email you again to let you know what’s coming up.

Our website

We’ve sparkled up our site during lockdown with some new additions to the About Us page, plus new additions to the Photo Galleries to give you a sense of what to expect on our safaris.

We have a range of explorations into many delicious worlds…some of our groups are now smaller which makes for a more immersive experience.

And in keeping with the times, you’ll notice our local and Australian and NZ safaris are centre stage…we are still waiting for the world to open for International Safaris.

23rd Birthday Celebrations

July 28, 1998 was the date of our very first Gourmet Safari – an Alabama banquet that was the first of a series of hosted banquets in Sydney. It was priced at $50 including superb wines from Cockfighters Ghost and Cassegrain. There were also Persian, Korean, Lebanese, Malaysian and Vietnamese banquets.

It felt very new and exciting to take people into delicious worlds I’d been lucky enough to be a part of through writing guides to “Ethnic Eating” in Sydney (and Melbourne)…later becoming The SBS Eating Guides. “Ethnic” just wasn’t the word was it!

The idea of Gourmet Safaris came from taking my mother’s group to a Lebanese restaurant in Punchbowl that I had been lucky enough to be introduced to by one of my friends. I loved the experience of taking my friends to a place that served authentic simply delicious Lebanese dishes and they loved being off the beaten track. 

At the time I started I was working as a journalist at SBS and had two small children and a year or so later had my third child.

It was a wonderful experience to have started something unique that really struck a chord with the foodlovers who came along, all looking for true and delicious experiences and the opportunity to learn more about particular cuisines on our doorstep.

By the way the baby in the backpack is Kitty who is now a guide on our Newtown and Enmore Safari.

After those early banquet dinners we added walking tours of food villages, bus tours, overseas safaris, Gorgeous (womens only) safaris, safaris in Melbourne and weeklong tours in Australia and continue to bring new ideas and tours to you.

I’ve been blessed to have Suzy Brien smoothly running Safaris for most of the last 23 years and looking after our guests, guides and all the small businesses we visit in Australia and beyond. It’s a big job and we couldn’t do without you.

Manager Suzy Brien pictured with guide Peter Nguyen (left), Maeve and guide Quang Nguyen in Saigon’s Ben Thanh Market (2004)

Huge thanks to all our truly remarkable guides who share their food and culture with guests every weekend. Click here to read about the wonderful people who lead our safaris: https://gourmetsafaris.com.au/our-team/

So at the 23 year mark, we have hosted well over 65,000 guests on walking safaris and bus tours, sleepovers in Australia and exotic parts of the world…and wow what a ride. It’s been incredible. Gourmet Safaris has been a showcase for the best of our multicultural world in Australia, an immersion into food and culture.

We are proud to have created opportunities for guests to enjoy authentic experiences and meet hardworking families from many different backgrounds.

Thank you to all our treasured guides and guests over 23 years. 

We picked a few photos from our travels and urge you to share yours on social media to mark our birthday. #gourmetsafaris and #gourmetsafaris23years 

Greek Islands

Greece has always had a special lure for me and travelling there every year has been such a delight. The best thing is to spend time with my dear friend chef Peter Conistis who creates cooking classes and delicious feasts at a private estate on the island of Evia plus being welcomed by families and small businesses on 4 different islands.

Turkey Safari

Turkey has been like an Aladdin’s Cave of delights, our safari guided by chef Somer Sivrioglu and visiting fresh produce markets, upmarket restaurants and enjoying cooking classes and many behind the secret door experiences.


Thanks to our guide of 20 years Peter Nguyen for sharing the love of your homeland and taking our groups to some of the most beautiful and inspiring places and introducing some really special people including KOTO’s Jimmy Pham (who would love some help with funding his life changing hospitality initiative KOTO – click here to read more) 

Sardinia and Corsica 

So proud to have woven together a series of delicious experiences on these two exceptional islands…thanks to chef Pietro Porcu for helping kick start this, guides Maria Paola and Pierre for sharing your insights. What joy!


New Zealand

What started as Gorgeous Safaris for women only is now open to men and women…the glorious sweep of Central Otago from Queenstown to Wanaka, our visits take us to restaurants, cafes, producers, winemakers, art galleries, wild beautiful walks and so much more.

Franca Norris

Guests on our Victorian High Country Safari will remember just how much our local guide Franca Norris adds to these visits. Born into a food obsessed Italian family who love foraging for mushrooms amongst the pine forest of the Alpine region, Franca is there to meet us in Milawa with handmade biscotti to accompany our Prosecco, joining us on visits to many of our friends in the region and – most special of all – welcoming us into her home for a ‘mushroom morning tea’ after a walk in the local pine forests.

Just after our last safari in March, Franca had back pains that were diagnosed as a tumour on her spine. She was rushed to surgery in Melbourne and later suffered nerve damage from a blood clot. 12 weeks in hospital and she’s back home and learning to walk again. We look forward to our next High Country visit with Franca in early 2022. In the meantime, we are with you Franca and know you’ll use that mighty spirit that had you hiking the beautiful region you live in to get back to your beloved Myrtleford Farmers Market as well as Gourmet Safaris.



My dears, stay safe, cook well, drink good wine and thank you for being part of our world.


We look forward to welcoming you back when its safe.


Maeve and Suzy


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