KEVIN Moloney reckons he has the best job in the world.
The president of the Australasian Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association, Mr Moloney gets paid to travel, and he gets to eat while he travels.
Now Mr Moloney has been announced as senior judge for this year’s Golden Plate Awards, a role that requires him to anonymously dine at restaurants and cafes across Ballarat in coming months, eating and drinking his way from the first glass of wine right through to desert.
Always with a sense for travel and adventure, Mr Moloney is excited about the task.
“When I go to Ballarat I often go by train because it’s a little more adventurous,” he said.
“I’m one of the luckiest blokes in the world to have a job like this.”
But the job has its hazards too.
“They don’t care how fat you get. It’s an occupational hazard.”
Mr Moloney claims he can tell the differences in food between Ballarat and the other regions such as Bendigo or Geelong.
He describes the Ballarat scene as “eclectic”.
“There are some older style restaurants and there are some cutting edge ones coming in there,” he said.
“I think it’s a very healthy food scene.”
Recognising excellence in hospitality in regional Victoria, the awards in 2012 will cover the Geelong-Otway, Ballarat-Daylesford and Greater Bendigo regions, with regional awards for the best restaurants and cafes.
With more than 80 public nominations in Ballarat to date, organisers have been thrilled with the response from local food lovers.
The awards focus on 36 criteria with the five major categories on food quality and presentation, customer service, value for money, coffee, wine quality and ambience.
But judges will be looking out for 240 different points as part of their very thorough and stringent judging system.
“I love it,” Mr Maloney said.
With nominations due to close early next month and the judging commencing this week, entrants will now be scrutinised by six professional judges.