Jan Owen AM
Jan Owen is a keen Scarf diner, and she has many feathers in her very impressive cap. She’s currently the CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians, an organisation which is relentlessly optimistic about young Australians’ potential to change the world for the better. Previously, Jan was the Executive Director of Social Ventures Australia. She also founded the CREATE Foundation, the national consumer body for children and young people in out of home care.
Jan has contributed to the establishment of many social change organisations in Australia and served on plenty of Boards, including (currently) Australian National Development Index, Bridges to Higher Education Partners Advisory group, RMIT College of Business Industry Advisory Board and Melbourne Social Equity Institute (University of Melbourne). Phew.
In 2000, Jan was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for services to children and young people. And in 1999 she received a fellowship for leadership and innovation to the Peter Drucker Foundation in the USA. In 2012 she put another feather in her cap when she was named the inaugural Australian Financial Review & Westpac Group ‘Woman of Influence 2012’. In March 2014, Jan received the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney, in recognition of her significant contribution to young people and policy in Australia. Oh, and because she wasn’t busy enough, she wrote a book! In 2014, Jan authored The Future Chasers, a collection of stories from young Australians of courage, imagination and will. It’s fantastically inspiring and you should definitely read it.
You might have spotted Leanne Clancey at the latest opening of the hottest new restaurant in the coolest new part of town. She was probably looking glamourous, chatting to the barman and eating an hors d’oeuvre whilst simultaneously instagramming the whole experience.
An accomplished freelance food and travel writer, event host and restaurant critic based in Melbourne, Leanne has been coming to Scarf Dinners since before they were a thing. A rusted-on foodie, she spent years treading the boards in top restaurants before eventually hanging up her apron in pursuit of a career as a professional food writer.
Today she is the resident food columnist at Australian Traveller magazine and contributes critical reviews to Australia’s most respected restaurant guides (The Age Good Food Guide, Gourmet Traveller) as well as writing feature articles, travel stories and industry news for publications such as Australian Traveller, SBS Food, Good Food, Broadsheet and more.
In 2014, she authored an illustrated pocket travel guide for UK publisher Herb Lester Associates called An Appetite For Melbourne (which can be found in good bookshops all around the world), and in 2017 she was appointed Food Editor of the Monocle travel guide to Melbourne.
As well as frequenting Scarf Dinners and tweeting about them, Leanne participates as a volunteer trainer in our practice interview sessions, because she is ace.
We once heard someone say this about Nathan Toleman – “Everything he touches turns to gold.” But we reckon his success is more to do with his incredible nous to predict trends and create venues which not only look beautiful, but consistently exceed expectations with food and service.
After starting Liar Liar in 2006, Nathan (along with various business partners) went on to launch some of Melbourne’s best and busiest cafés including Apte, Three Bags Full and Two Birds One Stone. He is a current part-owner in three of our fine city’s top venues – Top Paddock, The Kettle Black and Higher Ground Melbourne.
Nathan studied hospitality at William Angliss, and spent years working in various hospitality ventures and hotels before starting his empire. All this made for serious industry credibility, which saw him chosen as an industry leader for the Broadsheet/Bank of Melbourne initiative, The Keys. His involvement saw him mentoring Auction Rooms’ Andrew Kelly who went to open Filter by Small Batch.
Having held Scarf Dinners at Three Bags Full, Two Birds One Stone, Top Paddock and Higher Ground Melbourne, we were super keen to get Nathan on board as a Scarf Ambassador in 2015.
When Matt Preston came to a Winter Scarf Dinner in 2011, everyone from our diners to our current crop of trainees and mentors were a bit flabbergasted. As it turns out, he loved his Scarf experience and is a big believer in using hospitality to create change in communities. In 2015, we were chuffed for Matt to officially join the fold as a Scarf Ambassador, which sees him hosting our annual Do More Than Dine fundraising dinner and helping spread the word about Scarf far and wide.
An award-winning food writer with a national column in the Taste section of NewsCorp’s metro newspapers, Matt is also a senior editor for delicious and taste magazine. And you might have seen his face on a billboard recently, because he’s currently a judge and co-host of a pretty well-loved show, MasterChef Australia.
In 2014, Matt took his “maximum flavour, minimum fuss” cooking on the road with live demonstrations across the country and overseas. Building on the success of his cooking segments in MasterChef’s MasterClass, Matt appeared demonstrating his recipes in Sydney, at Brisbane’s Regional Flavours, at the Noosa Food and Wine Festival, and in front of thousands at the Margaret River Gourmet Weekend. He also sold-out five shows at the Johannesburg Food and Wine Show playing to over 2,500 people and selling over 1,000 books in a day and a half.
Little known fact: Matt is also a keen tennis player but due to an extreme lack of talent (his words, not ours), he is extremely unlikely to ever win a wild card slot for the Australian Open. In 2014 Matt’s new cook book, which is incidentally called Cook Book, became an instant best-seller and a Dutch edition of his second cook book hit the shelves in Holland. Matt has also appeared in Neighbours, basically cementing his legendary status.