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Michelle Garnaut AO

Michelle Garnaut studied at Monash University before travelling widely in the early 1980s, returning to Melbourne to complete catering qualifications at William Angliss College. In Hong Kong, she gained a job as second chef at Restaurant 97. Sensing the need for something in between cheap and cheerful and fussy and formal eating establishments, in 1989 she opened the M at the Fringe on Lower Albert Road in Hong Kong’s historic central district. Long-running, though now closed, it is credited with having been Hong Kong’s first independent fine-dining establishment. In 1999, she established M on the Bund in a then-unfashionable, run-down waterfront area of Shanghai. Garnaut is credited with leading the revitalisation of the Bund, which is now one of the world’s most glamorous eating and shopping strips. She opened the Glamour Bar in 2001; it closed in 2014, but she opened Glam in August 2015. M on the Bund and Glamour Bar were base venues for the Shanghai International Literary Festival, initiated by Garnaut in 2002 after Australian novelist Frank Moorehouse spoke on the topic of martinis in literature at M on the Bund. In 2009, she opened Capital M in Beijing’s Qianmen, overlooking Tiananmen Square. Her Capital Literary Festival began in Beijing 2011; but all her venues regularly offer cultural events including chamber music and talks. M at the Fringe is now closed, but Garnaut is on the lookout for a new Hong Kong location. Renowned for encouraging active participation by her staff in community projects, she has sponsored Hong Kong’s International Coastal Clean-up since 2004 and is currently involved in the Village People Project, which seeks to improve the lot of women in rural China through the creation of community bathhouses. Garnaut is often consulted on doing business in China. She was a judge for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards for five years, and was Asia Jury President in 2011 and 2012.

Updated 2018