VIDEO: Justin McPhail talks food and degustation

JUSTIN McPhail has made the move many of us only dream of. He quit his day job and focused on following his passion – food, drink and the flavours that come with them.

After working in an office for a number of years and brewing and creating food at home as a hobby, Justin up and quit and threw himself into a world of flavour.

Full flavours and delicious drinks drive Justin McPhail, CHRIS PEDLER writes.

“So many of my old workmates have been asking if I made the right choice and how I’m going with it. It’s been the best move I’ve made,” he said.

“For me it is all about passion. It goes back to brewing, reading and researching and going to degustations in Melbourne and Sydney.

“I wanted to experience fine dining at its best and casual dining at its best and incorporate those elements together.”

Justin started an event-based company called Dejustation and co-founded craft beer appreciation group Bendigo Beer.

“It’s always been a passion of mine – food and drink,” he said.

“Brewing beer was the start but I got into food through putting it with beer and looking at the different flavour profiles and how they work together.

“I set up Dejustation about two years ago and it was based on there not being many degustation events in Bendigo.

“The idea was I’d start this company and we’d start doing themed food events.

“I’ve had no training whatsoever. Everything I know is stuff I have taught myself, read about or seen.”

Degustation is sample food and drink pairings over a number of courses.

Justin has created unique food nights since the company’s inception including a six-course gluten-free and vegan night for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and a Milk Bar night, which included a Chicko Roll made for fine dining.

Now working at The Goldmines Hotel, Justin is creating a six-course food event that combines his love of brewing with his love of food.

The event – set for March 15 – is part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and will see six courses of  fermented and cured food coupled with a drink served up at The Goldmines Hotel.

“The event is six courses,which I think is enough,” Justin said.

“It gives you plenty of scope to try a few different cultures.”

Food such as sauerkraut (Germany), kim chi (Korea), duck proscuitto and menataiko (a Japanese cure fish roll) are in Justin’s mind for the event. 

“They are national dishes. Sauerkraut from Germany is something I started playing around with during Oktoberfest and kim chi (a Korean food) is something people have heard of but haven’t really tried.”

Justin immerses himself into the food world so much that he even knows the history of the dishes he serves.

“Until the Japanese took over (Korea) in the 16th century, there was no chilli in kim chi,” he said.

“They brought all their spices over and it’s been made like that ever since.”

But with a fermentation and cured theme, there is a lot of preparation for Justin to do before March.

For the duck prosciutto, Justin must salt cure the meat before wrapping it and hanging it for two weeks.

“It’s something I have been doing on and off for a few years,” Justin said.

The duck dish is inspired by Masterchef contestant Chris Badenoch’s book The Entire Beast (Badenoch also owns a beer-based restaurant in Melbourne).

Justin McPhail’s Dejustation returns as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival with a six-course fermented food degustation.

It features food made using traditional fermenting processes with fermented drink to match. The event is from 6pm on Saturday, March 15 at The Goldmines Hotel. 

Tickets are available online via

Fementation Food Event

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide