Sunday, April 28, 2013


Photography courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipierre
This is a long-overdue blog has been a bit hectic lately. I have packed up my life in HK with hubby and 6 month baby boy, came back to my hometown Melbourne for the summer, pulling off LOVE YOUR HOME secret supper with my incredible Melbourne team and then getting on a plane to move back to London with the mammoth task of starting a new life and an empty flat ...all this with my little 6 month baby in tow. Phew!

Anyway, Melbourne is not only my hometown but also foodie lovers was only a matter of time before we could bring Once Upon A Table secret supper experience to this awesome city.....and wow was it awesome!

The theme for our Melbourne event was inspired by my Mum and Dad's new backyard 'pets'...their 6 egg laying chickens. Every morning we would collect fresh eggs from the cubby house and have poached eggs, ripe dark plums and apples from their fruit trees...can't get fresher than that!!

Photography: Guy Lavoipierre

It got me thinking about the great produce that we have in our own backyards ...and wouldn't it be great to have a secret supper where we collaborated and sourced ingredients from our own, our families, our friends and neighbors backyard...and so LOVE YOUR HOME secret supper idea was born - from backyard to plate!

We partnered up with Vanessa and Matt from Rooftop Honey, who by the way are some of the friendliest, passionate and down to earth people I ever have met.  They personally look after over 100 bee hives all over Melbourne with the vision to protect bee colonies and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Lucky for us those lovely bees also produce some delicious honey...infact each bee hive has it's own unique flavour profile...perfect for pairing with different dishes (more on this later). Big thank you to Rooftop Honey who were very generous in donating lots of honey for us to cook with and for guests to taste. Happy to say we donated our profits from LOVE YOUR HOME to the Rooftop Honey bees!

A selection of various delicious Rooftop Honey and my little niece in the background
(Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

In keeping with Once Upon A Table secret supper tradition, the home venue and menu were kept a secret from our guests until the day. We could not have found a more spectacular home venue for this perfect summers day! Vittioria my co-chef and host generously opened her beautiful family home in Essendon to 24 guests.  

What an incredible home venue! Thanks Vitti and Maurice our gracious hosts
(Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Vittoria and I spent weeks perfecting our backyard/Victoria/Aussie theme menu with wines curated by our Sommelier Kyri from Quealy Wines and Champagne Dame Kyla. 

 Beautiful 'Bright and Aussie Native' styling and flowers by Sarah Naarden, Aurora Riciotti and Bridget Jones
(Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

A fragrant and tasty collection of fresh garden herbs donated from our, parents, neighbors, friends backyards
(Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Tasty welcome bites: Crostini of cannellini beans, caramelized onions and crispy garden sage. 
Salmon carpaccio with micro herbs served with parmeggiano thyme crisps 
                                                   (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Our sommelier Kyri on quality control taste tasting duty for our Lemon honey bee spritzer with rooftop honey created by Aurora (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
Our lovely guests enjoying some early evening sun rays and cocktails by the pool
                                               (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

The beautiful Champagne Dame Kyla performed the Art of Sabrage (a great party trick!) and took guests through a tasting of a great selection of local Victorian sparking wines. 
Big thank you to our sponsors Willow Creek Vineyard, Mitchell Harris, and De Bortelli
                                                (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Our Sommelier Kyri selected a lovely range of Victorian wines to pair with the dishes. 
Big thank you to our sponsors Elgee Park Wines, Quealy Wines, Sutton Grange Wines.
                                                 (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

And you can have a summers day without beer...thanks to our sponsor David, founder of new local Melbourne boutique beer Kwencher who was inspired to create lagers with refreshing black tea and peach/grapefruit on a trip to Morocco.
Lovely pure, natural honey courtesy from Vanessa and Matt from Rooftop Honey who took our guests through an eye-opening taste tasting of over 10 different honeys from hives all over Melbourne. We're proud to say we donated our profits to protection of the bees.
   (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

What a beautiful setting....guests tuck in to the wine, food and conversation.
 (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
This has to be one of our favourite with our our homegrown theme, we 'Potted' our Tempura Zucchini Flowers with homemade ricotta/parmeggiano into little biodegrable pots with raddicio and basil and served these crunchy/salty/cheesy babies with a healthy drizzle of Alphington Rooftop Honey and toasted spices of coriander, cumin, fennel seeds.
....even the tempura batter was homemade (pulverising white rice grains in the Thermomix)
   (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Beautifully fresh heirloom tomato Caprese salad (thank you Pino's Fine Produce) and Aussie mozzarella with father-in-law's garden basil. The colors really pop-out against against the turquoise plates of Royal Hamam Crockery.
My much requested and moreish piping hot homemade garden rosemary and olive oil foccacia.
                                           (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
This dish is like summer on a plate...Kingfish Taridito (Peruvian fusion wafer-thin raw fish dish I fell in love as Osaka restaurant on my travels) with North Melbourne Rooftop Honey passion fruit syrup, homemade crunchy coconut crisps, coriander oil and fresh lime juice.

Posh Lakes Entrance flathead fish fingers (inspired by Ottolenghi recipe using white/black sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, turmeric, coriander seed, cayenne pepper crust) and Vittoria's naughty homemade aioli using mum's backyard chicken eggs and truffle salt from spice store Gewuzhaus...yummo!
                                                                        (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
Ohhh could have had 5 plates of these little beauties. BBQ'd yabbies with backyard garden pesto sauce and fresh and better than lobster tails!! Love the bright orange colour against the turquoise plates of Royal Hamam Crockery.
       (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Intermission: Andy serenading Sophie, guests and cooks with his guitar ....
....and Vitti's incredibly delicious and refreshing 'Nana's garden cucumber, lemon thyme, Greek basil, mint sorbet (Vitti used dry ice in this recipe..we had a somewhat Heston Blumental/mad scientist moment in the kitchen when it dry ice smoke exploded out of the mixerl!) sprinkled with Indian palate cleansing spice mix Mutwah from Gewurzhaus
                                          (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Homemade brioche buns glazed with Ascot Vale Rooftop Honey, slow roasted lamb shoulder infused with grandpa's backyard herbs, crunchy cabbage and apple coleslaw, homemade chill mayo, homemade zucchini pickle served with cones of triple cooked hand cut chips. 
Mum's church friend donated her larger than life homegrown zucchini the size of my arm which I transformed 
into a tangy, spicy, crunchy pickle.
  (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
My best friend Bridget, the happiest waitress in the world with the most beautiful smile.
                                                 (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
Roast eggplant, coriander and pomegranate jewel salad served with juicy pink BBQ lamb cutlets encrusted with Australian bush pepper herbs and saffron yoghurt. Thanks to our sponsor Elly who supplied the beautiful plates from her new range at Royal Hamam Crockery.
                                                 (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

For an authentic Aussie sweet finish...sweet memories from the milk bar inspired by Masterchef who created gourmet version of all time classic ice-cream Golden Gaytime...I wanted to give it more of an Aussie spin.

So I created XXX rated Golden Gaytime: Homemade Murray River Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean Ice-cream, homemade Carlton Rooftop Honey honeycomb, Preston Rooftop Honey Anzac biscuit crumble, Crunchy Macadamia toffee shards, and a surprise sprinkling of magic dust (popping candy). ...let's just say our guests had food orgasms! 
(Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

We always give a little surprise gifts to our guests, always homemade as a nice little thank you. This time we gave homemade garden lavender, rosemary biscuits, vegetable seedlings made by Bridget and test tube samples of Ascot Vale Rooftop Honey
                                                      (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)

Our first Melbourne secret supper by Once Upon A Table would not have been possible without Vittoria...talented chef and my cooking soul mate, gracious host who opened up her beautiful home to our crazy 10 person team and 24 guests, designer of our invite/menu etc. 
Thanks so much for your hard work, creativity, delicious cooking and fun times!
                                                      (Photos courtesy of talented Guy Lavoipeirre)
Thanks to my core Once Upon A Table Melbourne team - Sarah, me, Bridget, Vittoria and Aurora who spent many hours planning, decorating, creating, organising and making this event amazing.  All talented ladies.
And my wider volunteer team including my beloved mum (who stayed up til 2:30am the night before helping me triple fry 5kg of hand cut potato chips), Sarah, me, Bridget, Vittoria, Aurora, Sarah, Andy, Alby and partner and Maurice (hubby and host to Vittoria)

And lastly thank you to my little 6 month baby Miles and my best friend Bridget's little baby Lily for being such good babies and letting us spend weeks and hours planning, cooking, organising, driving all over Melbourne to get this event together. 

 And Vittoria's daugthers - little angel Alyssa who was our little junior masterchef helper and Leah who helped create the gifts.

Thanks also to our lovely guests from whom we have glowing feedback from and everyone else that has been supportive of our first secret supper in Melbourne (especially Broadsheet readers). 

Special mention also goes to Guy Lavoipierre who took amazing photos of the night,  Pino's Fine Produce at Pharan Market and Sosta Cucina who sponsored and helped us source lovely, fresh, tasty local Victoria produce that we couldn't get from our own backyards.

As we have such great response in Melbourne, Vittoria will continue to lead Once Upon A Table Melbourne as I have moved to London to live (however I do plan to come back for my annual family Christmas visit and run a NYE secret supper event). 

Please stay tuned for next event in the winter months.

Keep in touch! 

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