Photography credit: Dan Mahon - Courtesy of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Meet Natalie O’Brien AM

Australia’s leading experience and

customer growth strategist

As Managing Director of Natalie O’Brien & CO, Natalie is the primary facilitator
for design and customer reinvigoration strategies. Identifying opportunities and
engendering positive change on behalf of her clients.

Whilst Natalie is regarded as a leader in the fields of tourism, food and events the learnings Natalie brings to Natalie O’Brien & CO are equally transferrable across a wide range of problems and organisations, evidenced in her latest clients in architecture, property, agriculture and government.

Before launching Natalie O’Brien & CO, Natalie was Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and Food + Wine Victoria for more than 15 years. Directing a strategic vision that supported and promoted Australia’s food and wine experiences to global visitors, media and trade.

Natalie has been recognised amongst ‘Australia’s 50 most influential people in food (Gourmet Traveller 2016) and has extensive global networks to benefit clients and collaborators. 


Most recently Natalie was honoured in the 2019 Australia Day honours list and inducted as a member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to wine, tourism and the community.

Natalie takes great pride in developing high performing teams and has mentored many emerging leaders in the sector.  She sits on a number of boards, advisory committee’s and student scholarship programs supporting younger entrants to the sector.

Natalie believes that her passion for people ‘is in the genes’ coming from four generations of hoteliers.  Her grandmother a long standing publican in her home town Geelong was an inspiring role model who knew all of her customers by name making their experience both delightful and very personal.


Meet the 'CO'

Collective, Community, Collaboration.

Your project requires a unique collaboration of skills and experience. Working with ‘CO’ enables us to engage the right creative professionals for the job.

Over many years of working in the food and tourism industry, Natalie has accumulated an incredible collection of innovative creative minds, many of whom are thought leaders in their field.

Kate Stewart

CO - Founder & Strategy Director,
En Pointe Events

Experienced founder with a demonstrated history of creating successful brands in the event services and hospitality sectors. Skilled in brand vision, project management, strategic planning and business innovation.

Passionate about local enterprise, sustainable solutions and helping brands and businesses express who they are through their events.

Currently CO-founder & strategy director at En Pointe Events, non-executive director at Fareshare and hospitality consultant.

Michael Bascetta​

CO - Founder & CEO, Worksmith​

Michael is currently CO-Owner of Bar Liberty, in Fitzroy and Capitano,
in Carlton.

In 2016, together with friends in the industry, Michael was inspired to launch Grow Assembly; a series of food and wine talks from some of the most forward-thinking minds in the industry.

Previous to this he spent 3.5 years working at Attica Restaurant, which culminated in him becoming Assistant Restaurant Manager.

Michael acknowledges the value that mentorship, collaboration and learning from the people around him, has had in propelling his career forward. Worksmith, a collaboration hub and co-working space for the food, beverage and hospitality industry is the embodiment of these ideals.

Tony Tan

Chef & Author​

Tony Tan was born on the east coast of Malaysia into a family of culinary experts specialising in Chinese cuisine and he formally trained as a chef in Australia and France.

A wonderful teacher, a brilliant chef and an avid storyteller, Tony Tan’s expertise on Chinese and Malaysian cuisines – actually most Asian cuisines – is second-to-none.

He headed up the team at Tatler’s in Sydney for many years, followed by a move to Melbourne where he shifted his focus to run a popular cooking school. He now spends time consulting, writing and organising food tours through his native Malaysia.

Sharlee Gibb

Creative Director Food | Cookbook Author |
Founder of Fully Booked Women

Sharlee trained under Darina Allen at her famed Ballymaloe Cookery School
in Ireland before forging a career off the pans as an event manager
and curator.

A former Gastronomy Program Manager for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Sharlee now runs her own events and food consultancy curateEAT, is a regular contributor to Eater and Luckie guides and she is the founder of Fully Booked Women – an online platform celebrating women in the food and drink community.

She published her first cookbook in October 2017 with husband Matt Wilkinson, Mr & Mrs Wilkinson’s How it is at Home.

“Knowing Natalie O’Brien for 18 years, and having worked with her for over six years at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, I know that Nat drives projects with all the assurance, pace and attention to detail with which Lewis Hamilton handles his F1 Mercedes. She is just more likely to keep all four wheels on the tarmac at all times.”

Matt Preston — Masterchef Australian judge & host, Columnist Taste & Delicious