There are definitely some advantages to writing about food obsessively.

Nuffnang is a blog advertising community which brings advertisers and bloggers together so that advertisers can target their products to blog readers and bloggers can make some money from the advertising – you may have noticed Nuffnang ads occasionally on MEL: HOT OR NOT.

Nuffnang is also all about bringing bloggers together to share and learn from each other. After the success of their Christmas party last year, they organised the first of the category-specific meetups – a Food Bloggers Dinner hosted at the newly refurbished Collins Kitchen in the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

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I think the Grand Hyatt definitely got their marketing strategy right. By putting on dinner for twenty camera-mad food bloggers, they’ll obtain wide-ranging  publicity at much less cost relative to an advertisement in mainstream media. Each one of us will blog about our experience in excruciating detail, photographing and describing every element, and combined we are a strong authorative voice, as we all write for different audiences and from different points of view. You won’t find that kind of multi-faceted story in Epicure.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

The first part of the evening was a tour of Collins Kitchen‘s unusual setup. Similar to the grand hotels in Asia, the working kitchen is on display for guests – which means you can see and sniff the food, open the fridge to get your morning yoghurt and bircher muesli, ask questions, give instructions on how your want your eggs or steak cooked and generally admire the clean and orderly goings-on. The sleek and shiny cooking stations (grill, wok, sushi, deli and patisserie) was like Disneyland for food bloggers! The only thing better would have been if we’d been allowed to go on the rides.

As you can imagine, we all went nuts with our food photography, so, please indulge me while we go on a journey of food porn.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

Superfresh fish, ready for our sashimi and sushi platter.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

The kitchen contains two turbo woks and turbo steamers. They sounded like jet engines starting up and the flames and steam rising around the flashing metal spatula and the wok is a spectacle to behold.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

Roasted baby tomatoes on the vine to top our half gas/half wood oven baked foccacia.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

Aw, these crabs look so cute piggy-backing each other. They’ll soon find themselves on a seafood grill platter.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

When your kitchen is open to the public, all your ingredients have to be presented in a visually appealing way. I think I might start styling my vegetables in a bamboo steamer and artfully placing mortar and pestles in my kitchen too.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

A whole station devoted to steaming dim sum. Yes!

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

Obviously the Grand Hyatt have done their market research and realise that a lot of their guests come from Asia. So not only do they have specialised wok and steamer cooktops and a dim sum steaming station, they have an area specialising in Chinese barbecue meats – roast duck, soy chicken, char siu and roast pork. Sexy roast ducks, don’t you think?

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

I have a real weakness for ramekins. Especially an army of Le Chasseur ramekins and Pillyvut and sauce pots marching along a sparkling steel work bench and induction plates.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

The God Marchine. Executive chef Jason Camillo waxed lyrical about the difference between hand carving cured meats and using an electric carver. Apparently it has something to do with the tearing effect and the heat affecting the fat of the meat? If nothing else, it looks like a shiny red Porsche of kitchen appliances, and I think I want one…maybe after the turbo wok.

Nuffnang Food Bloggers Dinner, Collins Kitchen, Grand Hyatt, 123 Collins St, Melbourne

The kitchen sources most of their produce from Victoria as much as possible, before looking interstate or overseas. Only food bloggers would get unduly excited about these lumpy green things. Yes, fresh wasabi! From Tasmania at $180 a kilo. And wow what a difference it made to our sushi platter later on in the night.

Join me tomorrow as we get into the main event – our incredibly indulgent multi-course traipse through Collins Kitchen‘s a la carte menu.