Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria, a new free exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, opened Friday 3 August. It provides a fascinating insight into the gastronomic world of both Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

Gusto! brings to light a cornucopia of treasures from the Library’s collection, from the earliest Australian cookbook published in 1864 to hand-written recipes for curing afflictions ranging from headache and sore throat to skin cancer and snake bite. 

Exhibition curator Tracey Judd Iva says the Library’s collection of more than 2 million items provided a wealth of material for the exhibition:

Gusto! covers a lot of ground – the birth of viticulture in Victoria, Indigenous foods, sustainable food practices such as gleaning and backyard gardening, cafes and fine dining, food rationing, and the impact of immigration on Victoria’s food scene.  There was a mass of information on every subject in the Library’s collection – even an original World War I army biscuit that has been in the collection for over 60 years!

Victoria is arguably the food hub of Australia, therefore an exhibition examining the culinary heritage of the state is very appealing. Given the enduring fascination for food publications and the explosion of interest in reality TV cooking shows, this exhibition is timely and topical.’

Among the 250 items on show are historic Vegemite jars and Victoria Bitter bottles, on loan from Kraft and Carlton United Breweries, to illustrate the story of these iconic Victorian products.

Also presented are objects from and interviews with some of Melbourne’s leading food identities, chefs, restaurateurs and food writers, such as Jacques Reymond, Rita Erlich, Guy Grossi and Stephanie Alexander.

A treasured family heirloom – Jacques Reymond’s knife bag, which originally belonged to Reymond’s grandfather, is on display. It features in the 2004 Peter Wegner portrait of Reymond which is also shown.

Gusto! opens today and will be complemented by a full program of events and activities including tours, panel discussions, curator talks, special food events and children’s activities.

Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria

State Library of Victoria, Keith Murdoch Gallery

3 August 2012 to 28 April 2013

10am–5pm daily (to 9pm Thursdays, closed Good Friday)

Free entry


What does the word gusto mean to Guy Grossi and Rita Erlich?

Watch this video to find out.


About the curator Tracey Judd Iva

Tracey Judd Iva worked at the National Gallery of Victoria for twelve years. From 1996 to 2002, Ms Judd Iva was Senior Assistant Curator to the Director, working with Dr Timothy Potts and Dr Gerard Vaughan. In April 2002, she was appointed the Curator of International Exhibitions at the NGV. During this time she oversaw the ambitious International Exhibitions program at the NGV, working with curators to research and develop exhibitions, as well as curating her own projects and most recently, acting as Coordinating Curator of the critical and popular success Art Deco 1910–1939, a project she worked on for nearly four years. The exhibition was the second most popular in the history of the NGV, attracting over 247,000 visitors. In late 2008, Ms Judd Iva left the NGV to set up her own business as a freelance curator and cultural consultant.    



Saturday 18 August to Sunday 16 September

Explore Victoria’s rich culinary history at the Gusto! exhibition, pick up the special Look.Stop.Taste. map and then explore today’s, vibrant food culture beyond the walls of the Library.

Restaurants, cafes and food retailers participating in Look.Stop.Taste. include: Chin Chin, Longrain, Grossi Florentino, Cumulus Inc., Becco, Queen Victoria Market, Lupino, San Telmo, Nama Nama, PM24, Pei Modern, City Wine Shop, Saint Peter’s, La Vita Buona, Press Club – Little Press, Maha, Miss Chu, Journal cafe, Phillippa’s, Windsor Hotel, William Angliss Institute, Longrain, Pei Modern, Red Emperor, Paco’s Tacos MoVida Aqui, Readings, Gewurzhaus, Comme, Madame Brussels, The Moat, Hopetoun Tea Rooms, Mr Tulk and Pellegrini’s.

This event is presented by the City of Melbourne in celebration of the State Library of Victoria’s Gusto! exhibition.

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