While no one seems to agree on where--or even when--the new millennium will first dawn, travelers around the world are risking censure from the Royal Greenwich Observatory in England (the place at which, it was agreed in 1884, the universal day would begin) and making plans, come January 1, to watch the sun rise in the Antipodes.
Not surprisingly, in the South Pacific, the competition for these tourists is stiff. Indeed, the residents of Kiribati had the international date line shifted--only to be upstaged by both the Fijian and Tongan governments, who introduced daylight saving time to beat out New Zealand as the millennium hot spot. All of this is in stark contrast to Australia, where the overriding concern is not time but taste, especially in Melbourne, which is preparing for the meal of the millennium.
You see, Melbourne is food obsessed, a passion evidenced in the 4,000 restaurants and cafés that service a population of just over 3 million. Unlike Sydney's chefs, with their exuberant fusion cooking, Melbourne's chefs have turned their passion toward refining what the local food critics dub Modern British cuisine, a manifestation of an unofficial culinary exchange program between London and Melbourne. Top Melbourne chefs are regularly poached by London restaurateurs, who love the Aussie flair for innovation unencumbered by tradition, while Melbourne's top kitchens continue to be invaded by legions of British chefs trained in France who relish opportunities they don't have back home.