Sydney Times

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Chef and Winemaker Join Forces to Help Save Marine Life from Plastic Straws

Written by Aksel Ritenis

Chef and Winemaker Join Forces to Help Save Marine Life from Plastic Straws

Chef Alessandro Pavoni from Ormeggio at the Spit is partnering with veteran winemaker Garry Crittenden for a special cooking class on 5 January with a message to help reduce waste plastic that ends up in waterways and harms marine life.

In 1997, Garry Crittenden was the first Australian winemaker to sell Arneis, a food-friendly, northern Italian white wine (see his story of how this came about, below). Unfortunately, despite an increased interest in Italian varietals, 20 years on arneis hasn’t proven popular enough to be viable for Crittenden Wines and they’ve grafted it over to the ever-popular chardonnay.

The current vintage (2018) is the last and, motivated by his 6-year-old grandson Oscar who is passionate about saving turtles from waste plastic in our oceans, Garry has called it ‘Endangered’. He explains: “both the turtles and lesser known grapes, such as arneis, will cease to exist if something isn’t done to protect them.”Inspired by Molly Steer’s ‘Straw No More’ documentary, Oscar painted a picture of a turtle for his grandfather for Christmas last year.

That picture now graces the label of the 2018 Endangered Arneis and $20 from every dozen bottles sold goes to Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina on the NSW north coast, which treats injured sea turtles and seabirds. Being relatively small, plastic straws are easily ingested by turtles and other marine life and Oscar has written to McDonalds asking them to consider alternatives.

Along with many in the hospitality industry, Alessandro shares Oscar and Garry’s concerns about plastic straws, and has eliminated them from his restaurants: Ormeggio at the Spit, Chiosco, Via Alta and Sotto Sopra. Hailing from Lombardy, he also shares Garry’s love of northern Italian grape varieties, and has written the menu for his upcoming class to complement the Endangered Arneis. He’ll be teaching crudo of yellowtail kingfish with cherries, spaghetti risottati with tartare of scarlet prawns, and pumpkin & burnt butter risotto with pan-fried red mullet, which guests will then cook for themselves before sitting down to enjoy their seafood feast with a glass of Crittenden Endangered Arneis 2018.

Alessandro’s class is from 11am – 3pm on 5 January at Sydney Seafood School. For more information, call 9004 1111 or book online at  
[note: link to to go straight to booking page for this class]

To purchase Endangered Arneis 2018 and help save the turtles, visit

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher and Custodian of the Sydney Times

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