Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) Acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Narrm, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and to Elders of all First Nations communities that visit MCEC.


Beyond the Plate: Exploring the Latest Food and Beverage Trends

By Bree Pagliuso|

Today, events are more than just get-togethers; they're all about creating unique experiences. And what plays a big role in these experiences?

You guessed it—food and beverage!

The world of food and drinks continues to move beyond the traditional menu. Food and drink choices can amp up excitement and match your event's theme, location and experience. Your guests are looking for events to reflect their social and cultural identities through dietary choices or showcasing local flavours that connect with your event's location, the inclusion of indigenous ingredients, responsibly sourced ingredients, and more.

From inventive menus to sustainability initiatives, let's dive into the latest food and beverage trends and explore how MCEC is stepping up to meet these trends.

Respecting ancestry and the land

People value diversity and inclusivity more than ever, and your guests are becoming attuned to the history of event locations. Attendees are curious to learn about and pay tribute to the traditional practices and rituals of the destination, actively looking for venues that infuse cultural elements into menus and culinary experiences.

What do we have?

  • Our menus include a fusion of native and modern ingredients

  • The nutty, roasted, sweet spice of wattleseed elevates many of our best dishes

  • THE LUME Melbourne located at MCEC houses Mirri. An indulgent café with a menu curated by renowned chef Mark Olive, a Bundjalung man and pays homage to the traditions and flavours of the First Peoples, with native herbs and ingredients such as lemon myrtle, river mint, quandong, and saltbush

Coffee matters

In coffee-loving cities like Melbourne, a great event starts with exceptional coffee. Today, venues are prioritising high-quality coffee experiences. From artisanal blends to milk alternatives and creative coffee setups, the coffee corner is no longer an afterthought but a key element of any successful event.

What do we have?

  • Iconic roaming coffee carts

  • A variety of milk/mylk so attendees can have coffee just the way they like it

  • Our coffee partner, The Sustainable Coffee Company, is Melbourne-based and fully carbon offset from tree to cup

Sustainability takes centre stage

Sustainability has become a non-negotiable element in the event industry. Venues are making conscious choices to reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing local, seasonal ingredients and minimising food waste. Using eco-friendly serving materials and recycling initiatives demonstrates a commitment to preserving the planet. Sustainability isn't just a trend; it's a responsible approach that resonates with both attendees and the global movement towards a greener future.

What do we have?

  • Eco Boxes - We want our food to have a big impact at your event but a small one on the environment

  • All our major ingredients are sourced from local farms and markets within 100 miles (161 kilometres) of MCEC, supporting Victorian food producers while reducing our carbon footprint

  • We’ve replaced disposable coffee cups with reusable steel ones at catered events

  • Leftover food goes to our community partner OzHarvest

Inclusive menus

Whether vegan, gluten-free, or ethically sourced, event venues are going the extra mile to make sure no one feels left out. Clear allergy indicators have become a standard practice, giving attendees the confidence to enjoy the food without worrying. Health and wellbeing, too, has taken centre stage, so we're seeing menus filled with nutrient-rich offerings, superfoods, and mindful portions that delight the taste buds and nourish the body.

What do we have?

  • Allergen food stations

  • Lifestyle food choices are integrated into our menus

  • Our boost stations are filled with seasonal cut fruits, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to DIY an energy-boosting snack

  • Plant-based salads loaded with super greens, raw vegetables and fruity tastes

Think outside the box

Venues are welcoming creativity and innovation in their food and beverage offerings. The possibilities are endless, from food trucks with tasty treats to themed menus transporting attendees to different culinary worlds. These outside-the-box additions add an element of surprise and foster interaction and engagement among attendees.

What do we have?

  • Our iconic tasting plate highlights the very best Victorian produce

  • Gin bar and Whisky bar

  • Custom-made desserts in colours to match your event theme or brand

  • A roaming culinary experience of freshly shucked Australian Pacific and rock oysters

  • Meet the winemaker experience. Hear their stories and discover some of the best wines Victoria has to offer

Our food and beverage options aren't just an add-on – they reflect what matters to our customers, visitors and community. Work with our team to make your next event not just memorable but deliciously unforgettable.