Wednesday, July 31, 2013

West Elm Store Launch

For anyone who's lived in the US, they'll know it's a big deal that popular homewares store West Elm is set to have its own Melbourne branch at 464 Chapel St, South Yarra. With a lunch at Cumulus: Up to celebrate, those who deal with the ins and outs of Melbourne's interiors were there to share the spoils: Shareen Joel from Share Design and author Jason Grant, for starters. Toasting her own coup was The Big Group's Chyka Keebaugh, herself with exciting news, having landed a gig as a "houswife" on upcoming reality TV show, The Real Housewives of Melbourne.  

But back to West Elm. The store will be in the beautiful heritage building that used to house Politix, and Pennie Rende, General Manager of Williams-Sonoma, was on hand to give a speech - she worked in the US  with the retailer for a decade before moving to Australia for this gig. Speeches, smeeches - that was all well and good, but so was the delicious, Andrew McConnell-cooked East-coast-influenced lunch (West Elm began in Brooklyn), which included house-smoked brisket (served with pickle and rye), clam chowder and New York cheesecake.  Everyone also got a sample of West Elm wares - they specialise in supporting independent designers and products that have a positive effect on the environment - with a Mongolian lamb pillow in their goody bags. Soft. 

Jason Grant and Shareen Joel

Lucy Folk (middle) who has a gorgeous eponymous jewellery new store, and Robert Buckingham (right)

Penny Brown and designer Arabella Ramsay

Cindy Sargon and Chyka Keebaugh

Pennie Rende, GM

Ten New York-influenced dishes came out, and I couldn't get enough of this one: House smoked brisket, rye and pickle salad. There was also clam chowder and New York cheesecake. Wow. 

Susie Meagher and Jason Kimberley, both of Cool Australia

Chyka and Bruce Keebaugh, with Baker Brand Image and PR's Tracy Baker 

Photos courtesy of Anthony Licuria/ APL Photography

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alligator Brand Anniversary Lunch

Cindy Sargon and her husband, Michael Coade always do everything stylishly, but they pulled out all stops to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of their pasta company, Alligator Brand. With an intimate lunch, the guest list included comedian and radio talk show host Mick Molloy, renowned fashion designer Toni Maticevski and artist Jeff Martin (who paints chefs in situ), while the gob-smacklingly mouth-watering five course meal was created and cooked by Andrew McConnell. 
The talked-about table centrepiece was a bell jar filled with black truffles - someone whispered to me that that small collection alone would've cost $2000 - and everyone got to sample it when Michael Coade, himself an ex-chef, came and grated pieces onto the roasted pheasant, served with individual pasta bakes.
I wanted to pace myself, but left the luncheon barely able to move. Too delicious. No wonder Alligator Brand scored a big gong this year - they created the only fresh black truffle ravioli available in Australia, scoring them a finalist spot at the Delicious Produce awards (From the Earth - artisan category). Awards, shmewards - I just wanted to eat more.

Cindy Sargon and chef Andrew McConnell

Mick Molloy, my seat-mate! (and a funny one at that)

Toni Maticevski and Michael Coade

Artist Jeff Martin

Linguini carbonara. There were only three courses AFTER that one! (But it was worth being so full.)

Canoli pastry with Ricotta and soft chocolate. 
Photos courtesy of Marnie Rainey

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lexus of Brighton's IS launch

It might have been a rainy Melbourne night when Lexus of Brighton revealed their new IS line (with three cars in the range, which only gets launched once a decade), but it didn't stop the launch party, where  Nova 100's Dan Anstey helped get the festivities rolling, and violinist Sally Cooper heralded the reveal moment with dramatic music. As if the impressive new models (cars, not girls) weren't enough, the little Lexus touches wowed the crowd: Lexus hats by Danica Erard, Lexus cupcakes from The Cupcake Queen and Lexus biscuits from Vicki's Bickies. No wonder everyone stayed until the party should have been long over. PS On my wish list is the red-leather upholstered new Lexus. That, and Sally Cooper's gold dress. 

DJ Lauren Mac


Sally Cooper

Dasha and Colin Gold

Bree Laughlin and Kate Bollard

Sophie Pownall, marketing manager of Lexus of Brighton (left)

Lisa Mochkin and Helen Reizer (right) who did the PR for the event

Sally Cooper

Tutu Crazy and Kyra Pybus 

Sarah Roza (right)

Melina Bagnato and Sally Cooper

Gui Di Nardo and Andi Lew (right)

                                                                      Shiva Singam, hamming it up

DJ Jonno

Saturday, July 20, 2013

St Kilda's Cellar Bar Re-Opening

If you feel like you remember the opening of St Kilda's Cellar Bar (beneath the Newmarket) as if it was yesterday, you did. Welcome to Take Two. It's re-opened as a luxe cocktail bar that combines live performance with private booths, killer cocktails, djs, and lip-smacking finger food by Paul Wilson. Imagine 1960s Las Vegas with a tex-mex beat. At the very least, make your way over there for a re-do of Thursday nights' Schnitz 'N 'Tits, which like its name suggests, combines some schnitzel meals with a tongue-in-cheek, chest-on-display show. 

Pics courtesy of APL Photography