If you don't follow me on Twitter, you would not have seen that last night I attended Gary Mehigan's 'Favourites' Book Launch at 64 Sutton in North Melbourne last night.
For a generous price of $95 a ticket, we were treated to a night of canapes and champagne on arrival, a following three course meal, a Q&A with the man himself, non-stop wine drinking, a personalized copy of his new book, fun, friends and prizes.
I want to personally thank our amazing waiter Andrew for never letting my wine glass go empty (the killer hangover was totally worth it!), Trevor for the inappropriate dinner conversation, my lovely friends who accompanied me to the event plus Gary and co for making it such an amazing night!
Details - or as much as I can remember - under the cut!
BEWARE TEXT & PHOTO HEAVY POST.
All recipes can be found in the cookbook 'Favourites'
All recipes can be found in the cookbook 'Favourites'
We arrived a little before 7pm and entered a beautiful looking room. The decor was amazing. So pretty, fresh and inviting. The mood lighting with fresh flowers was really a nice treat. A lot of people were waiting around sipping champayne. Gary was speaking to a few people near the door.
We stepped to the side and spoke to the lady who ran the event. She told us how the place was being done up and how the kitchen was still being worked on. She said once they finish the kitchen the curtains will be raised (which was blocking the view currently) so you could see in it once it opens as a cafe during the day. She also said that they would rent it out for special occasions, such as this and other celebrity book launch events - I think she made mention to Gary's "Big Kitchen Events" event catering company.
We all stood around chatting for a bit before my friend and I went to take photos at the wall of food near the side - when coincidentally the Masterchef Australia theme song came on right at that very moment. I'm unsure how it happens but sometime during that, Gary came over and suddenly we were taking photos with him. We were the first ones but then everyone started mobbing him and wanting photos. But I guess good on us for kind of starting the trend.
Gary said he kind of felt like he was on the Red Carpet so I told him that I had met him at the Logies Red Carpet. And that was it. As I said, short and sweet because so many people joined us. My friend did tell him that she was surprised how small he was - which he took to meant that he was short. Gary said that he's never been worried about being short 'at like 5'something' he said. She then said she meant in terms of his belly - I think he said he may not be worried over that either but I can't be sure. He had a bit of a laugh though.
We then got out of the way of the mob and stood near the entrance. It was the perfect area to grab the canapes early. As a semi-vegetarian, I was annoyed that there were no vegetarian canapes. If you were full vegetarian or vegan, you probably wouldn't have been too happy either. Still, the rice paper rolls, rye toast bruschetta and egg & lemon soup with meatballs sure were tasty!
There were plenty of opportunities to grab food and once we took our seats - when people were still standing - we were offered more at our seats before the event officially kicked off!
We were seated at Table 1 which I'm unsure if that was because we were one of the first people to book or if was merely a coincidence. There were 8 people on a table. There was a guy near me called Voss who was from The Netherlands and, having living there myself, I spoke to him a little about the country.
I was seated next to a guy called Trevor who was an absolutely riot! Things that come to mind was skiing on acid, buying all kinds of junk on online shopping channels (and also being the one who sells the hideous stuff you have to sell!) and naturally, food. The funniest thing we spoke about was older rock stars. We spoke about rock stars who still have "it" - which lead to talking about people throwing underwear onstage at Rod Stewart - which lead to joking about throwing underwear at Gary during his Q&A. We thought it would have been more funny if Trevor did it as we agreed he would probably have handled it well and made a joke out of it. Though - I note - that no underwear was thrown at Gary. We were just joking around.
Once we were all seated Gary came around to the table to see if he hadn't said hello to any of us yet. My friend mentioned how she had made one of his recipes the other day and Gary said that now that they've made it they can now play around and tweak it however they want with different rice or grains. Trevor and his Mrs hadn't met Gary yet so he came over. Trevor did some work for the company or something in the area so he had gotten free tickets to the event so he and Gary spoke a little about that.
Some other tidbits:
- Gary said that he has been on his book tour and everyone else is doing all the hard work. He also mentioned that he is from Melbourne. He said that he moved to Sydney for a bit because Masterchef used to be filmed in Alexandria but he would be back every weekend. He said he liked living in Sydney. He now lives in Malvern.
- He said that he knew he wanted to be from around the age of 14-15. He said he was working towards (I want to say an accountant or consultant or something like that because his Dad was something similar) but he decided that he didn't want to work in an office all day.
There were around 120-140 people dining. Gary got on the microphone and had a bunch of thank yous to give out. He told us to make friends with the people on our table and enjoy the night. He also said our clapping skills were weak and he made us clap for him again - too funny!
And then he disappeared. I joked that he had run off to McDonalds for bite to eat. But where he really was I do not know.
The night started with two bags of olive bread. It was pretty delish. We had oil to dip it in and fresh olives on our table. Our meal came with a glass of either white or red wine (with other drinks available to purchase at the bar - including cocktails) - and when I say a glass, I mean one that is constantly being topped up. I couldn't even tell you how many drinks I drank. I did buy a cocktail at the bar too so granted to say, I drunk A LOT more than I thought I would!
Share plates of scallops, salmon sliders and pork ribs (see menu) were bought to the table. For us vegetarians, we got an eggplant slider and a (I think it was a kind of) ricotta and spinach in filo pastry roll type thing. The eggplant slider was a-ma-zing! We were offered more sliders after we ate and I would have taken two more if they had been the eggplant ones. The mayo in it was to die for! Just yum!
I should note that it was a pretty big serve for an entree. Much more than I can usually handle but hey, when in Rome, right? ^_^
For mains, share plates of duck, lamb, ocean trout and a salad (see menu) came to our table. I was given a quinoa salad (a smaller serve of it came with the ocean trout) and something that I'm quite unsure what it was. It looked like risotto but it was kind of a puffed grain type thing with some brussel sprouts. That's about as much as I can tell you as I don't know much about food.
We next had the Q&A but after that Gary gave out some prizes. The questions ranged from easy to hard as Gary struggled to come up with questions. My friend won a drink bottle.
So - before dessert we were treated to a bit of a Q&A.
I asked a question (yay me!) I asked him if there are plans for another series of Junior Masterchef and if Alastair McLeod* is ever going to guest star on the show. In regards to Junior Masterchef, he said probably not next year but maybe the year after because he doesn't want there to be too much Masterchef as it would be too much. So he said yes, but probably not for another couple of years. He said that in regards to the show though that the kids were fearless. He said how a kid tried to make a souffle but it wasn't rising and, if it had been a normal Masterchef season the adults would have freaked out - but the kid just rolled with it and called it something else. He said in regards to Alastair, he said I should give him a call and ask him. And then went to grab his phone to call him - which I would have LOVED! I would have loved to have spoken to Alastair :) But anywho, he said that Alastair isn't tied to a restaurant and it's all to do with contacts and stuff. I don't really think I got an answer but I'm going to say no.
* Alastair McLeod and Gary were my favourite chefs from Ready Steady Cook.
I don't remember all of it but here's some tidbits I do remember.
- He said that he's awful at picking winners of the series. He thought that Po would win season 1. He thought this season that Tash would win. He also said that they got a lot of flack for 'Sarah being on the show because she was just so good looking' but he said that she really knew flavour combinations. He said that Laura too was very natural with knowing flavour combinations. He said that Emelia was also brilliant. He said Brent grew during the show and learnt along the way.
- He said he likes a lot of chefs at the moment. He said that all the chefs would make fun of George Calombaris because he used to have a lot of hair and they'd make fun of him and make him do all the horrid kitchen jobs at the Sofitel.
- He said he knows a lot of chefs. He said he once met a group of girls who liked Manu Feildel and he told them that he isn't actually french. And then he called him up on the phone and the girls were surprised as they thought that there would be some rivalry between shows and/or chefs but there isn't.
- Gary said he liked to eat and that was apparent from his waistline. He said nutritionists are always going back and forth on the perfect waist size and body shape. So he said that one day in a couple of years he thinks they will come to him and tell him that he has the perfect body shape - 'slightly short, slightly overweight and slightly balding.' Bless him.
- He said that he hates that food critics feel the need to define a restaurant style. Gary said he just wants to cook a curry, why can't he just cook a curry - why does it have to come from anywhere in particular? * I have a video of this answer recorded. It ended with "it sounds like the type of women I'd like to meet" Maybe I will upload it as it makes more sense than I could make of it.
- He said that they've gone to chefs, bloggers etc who have said that they could be on the show and he's encougared them to try. He said that he thinks the ratings were so good this year because it was all about good food and everyone got along and all that.
For dessert, we had share plates of mousse, ice-cream and babas (see menu). The dessert was good but I wanted more! I have a sweet tooth and I could have eaten all plates on my own and then some! A little fun fact about myself, I hate eating dessert with a spoon (including ice-cream) so I was dying for a fork but I was too embarrassed to ask - and well, afraid that by the time I got my fork, I would have missed out on dessert. Such is life.
After dessert, people were getting up to leave. A HUGE line was formed with Gary at the front signing books. We each got a token on our table which we had to present to get our book upon leaving. Gary was happily having a chat and a photo or two.
When I got to the line he looked at my friend and said something about her looking tired and about to fall asleep. He told he that I had to pretend to be his table to sign my book. He started writing a V - to which I said it's an M - so he asked how he was going to fix it. I was too slow telling him how to spell my name but that's when he went ahead and wrote an r instead of an o. So that just goes to show up =P He corrected and spelt it out and all was good - but funny all the same!
I told him how I was an old school fan of Ready Steady Cook and hence why I asked the question about Alastair. He then rattled off some of the other chefs that were on it first season. And that was pretty much it. Short and sweet again. There was a big line behind me so it was kind of rushed.
All up, it was a brilliant night! Good food. GREAT company! Andrew was a sweetheart and deserves a pay rise! My only two complaints is that it would have been nice to have a vegetarian canape and more time to chat with Gary. I understand that there were a lot of people there to see but I think it would have been awesome for him to sit with us for a bit of the night and have a bit more of a chat. Although, I do think I was just unlucky to have been surrounded by bigger personalities than my own so I just couldn't get much of a word in edgewise.
To those going tonight, Friday or Saturday, you are in for a treat!
If I remember any more details, I will add it later. For now, I'm going to rest my hungover head and eat some much needed lunch. Thanks for reading! And thanks Gary for the retweet earlier! <3