Melbourne foodies are a force to be reckoned with in a way I don't think happens in Sydney. Correct me, if you will. Before Mietta O'Donnell was tragically killed in a motor car accident, there was one foodie earlier who I remember, Rita Erlich, who was married to The Age writer Dennis Pryor.
I saw Rita Erlich once at a cabaret performance at a place in Hawthorn. I can't remember who was performing, or what the venue was, but Rita was in the company Elizabeth Chong. (remembered later with some help from R, it was Capers and we saw Stan Munro, a female impersonator in the vein of Danny La Rue)
While born in China, Elizabeth came to Australia at a young age. Her father invented the Australian dim sim, which many of us treasure as a fast snack food. She grew up near Melbourne's Victoria Market, where her father a fruit and vegetable seller, had his dim sim factory. Her father opened a restaurant at some point and one of the staff he gave a start to, a young lad called Gilbert Lau, went on to become the entrepreneur of the Melbourne institution, The Flower Drum.
As a bored Balwyn housewife, instead of taking to Bexs Powders and the Vickers bottle, Elizabeth started doing cooking demonstration fund raisers for the school her children attended. Her cooking school evolved from that and the rest is history.
There is another famous Melbourne foodie connection for Elizabeth and that is Stephanie Alexander, who had been more successful in Australia with teaching good food eating habits to children than Jamie Oliver. Elizabeth is older than Stephanie, so it is unlikely that she taught Stephanie the art of Chinese cooking, but Elizabeth did teach Stephanie's mother.
Later edit: I should have made mention of her significant award for one of her books. She won the Prix La Maille as International Cookbook of the Year.
So, Elizabeth, you turned eighty in May this year. I takes me 'at orf to you as a Melbourne icon.