Falafel Off comes to Carlton

Carol Saffer

Are you a fan of The Great British Bake Off with wonderful Mary Berry?

Have the contestants’ cook-off clashes on  My Kitchen Rules or Master Chef kept you enthralled or even appalled over the years?

Fancy yourself as a dab hand in the kitchen?

Well, the inaugural Falafel Off competition is right up your alley.

An event to determine who cooks the best falafel will be held on Open Day at the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Friday, May 13, from 3.30pm to 6pm as part of its Neighbour House Week celebrations.

Join guest chef judge Adrian Richardson, TV celebrity and owner of Rathdowne St’s La Luna restaurant, as he tastes and decides the winner.

Renowned for nine series of Good Chef Bad Chef, he knows a lot, but how well does Adrian know his falafel?

Does this blue-eyed red-haired, pale-skinned chef know his fava beans from his chickpeas?

What a surprise; he is a bit of a dark horse when it comes to falafel.

His grandmother was born in Cairo, and his mum was born in Ethiopia.

Consequently, Adrian grew up eating just about anything you can get in a Middle Eastern restaurant.

“I have a strong background with Middle Eastern cooking and food,” he said.

“I spent several years cooking with the best Lebanese chefs in Melbourne; Greg Malouf, Michael Bacash and Abla Amad.”

Adrian said he would be looking for a nice crisp outer layer on the falafel, but it had to be cooked all the way through.

“I am also looking for flavour, which of course each region will have their kick on the types of flavours be it Lebanese, Israeli or Eritrean,” he said.


The shape, properly seasoned with spices and herbs, plus good the mouth feel is what I will be looking for.


Home-cooked falafel is part of everyday life in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Will Adrian choose a Middle Eastern style delicacy or something different from Eritrea to take home first prize?

Hummus to go with a falafel? Of course.

So, will home-made hummus also be open for judging to determine who makes the best accompaniment to street food?

Do you make your falafel from chickpeas? Or broad beans? Are they green or yellow inside? Do you make your hummus from a recipe handed down through generations?

Come to the Open Day at Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre at 20 Princes St North Carlton and join in the fun.

Activities on the day include a Welcome to Country, a community portraits exhibition, Eritrean coffee and henna art, global food and live music.

Bring the kids and the grandparents for a fun community day.

“If we can help bring the community together one day at a time with a lovely serving of falafel, what could be wrong with that?” Adrian said.

All proceeds from the Open Day will go towards new equipment for the community garden •

Like us on Facebook