Salmon in Spring \ Epicure
Tasmanian ocean trout, Western Australian marron, Red Hill cherries and Murray Valley lamb – guests in the exclusive Birdcage marquees at the Cup will be treated to lavish fare created from the country’s finest produce, prepared by some of our top chefs.
In the timber-and-stone-themed James Boag marquee, Melbourne chefs Paul Wilson (Circa), Michael Lambie (The Smith), Luke Brabin (The Botanical) and Darren Purchese (Burch & Purchese) will each create a signature dish with a Tasmanian twist, in a nod to the beer’s origins.
For entrée, Wilson will serve his san choi bau of Spring Bay seafood; lunch will be Lambie’s wagyu beef taco, braised in James Boag Premium and served with avocado and sweet-corn salsa. For supper, Brabin will create a brioche roll filled with smoked Tasmanian ocean trout with nori and wasabi, while Purchese’s beer and chocolate cream tartlet with fresh waters of Tasmania jelly will be the finale.
In the green-and-growing Swisse marquee, guest chef George Calombaris (The Press Club) has designed an Australian-sourced menu that takes its cue from a sustainable rainforest theme, creating dishes from land, sea and garden that use key ingredients from Swisse products such as green tea, celery and a cornucopia of fruits.
Guests will be treated to a menu of 25 individual items that includes Bannockburn chicken pops, Yarra Valley lamb ribs with miso melitzano and grilled Hervey Bay scallops with taramasalata. Grazing dishes in this extravagant marquee, made from materials that will be either recycled or reused, will include West Australian marron sliders with pickled cucumber. The “sweet treat garden” finish will feature snails flavoured with liquorice and green-tea slime, bitter chocolate soil with celery salt and raspberry log with papaya ice-cream.
Watermelon canape \ Lexus
Lavazza’s neon-themed marquee will be a standout among the Birdcage line-up, dressed in fluorescent yellow, orange, lime, blue and pink. The Italian coffee company’s menu has been designed by Michelin-starred chef Alfredo Russo (Dolce Stil Novo alla Reggia in Turin) and will feature bicern, Turin’s signature drink made using chocolate hazelnut praline and Lavazza coffee.
Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume) has designed the menu for Crown’s first marquee in the Birdcage with a line-up that features Waldorf-style Barossa Valley chicken sandwiches, steamed Crystal Bay prawns with aioli, wagyu beef daube with Paris mash and mini profiteroles with vanilla bean ice-cream.
The Hilton’s classic blue and white race day “sanctuary” will showcase signature dishes from the hotel chain’s chefs. Hilton on the Park – Melbourne’s executive chef Heshan Peiris said the dishes, which includes citrus-cured Akaroa salmon with wasabi crème from Auckland and crocodile larp on betel leaf with candied sugar cane from Cairns, represent foods and themes specific to each region.
Peiris’ own contribution, the dessert, includes a trio of classic Victorian ingredients: Rochford sauvignon blanc and passionfruit sorbet; Red Hill cherry and almond cobbler; and cheeses from Yarra Valley Dairy.
Gooseberry & Elderflower fool \ Emirates
The Treasury Wine Estate marquee will be themed around Yellowglen’s new black, white and yellow livery with a menu created by Neil Rocke, group executive chef at Peter Rowland Catering. Dishes designed to complement Treasury’s wines include West Australian crab cake with Singapore chilli sauce and polenta and parmesean-crusted veal cutlets with white bean skordallia, and a meringue nest with blood orange curd and lemon balm matched with Yellowglen’s vintage Bella Bianco.
In the Lexus marquee Neil Perry (Rockpool) and Simon Denton (Izakaya Den) have created dishes inspired by a highly stylised global theme, supported by caterer The Big Group. Its director, Bruce Keebaugh, says high-profile designers have been used for the crockery (Mud) and glassware (Bison) and aprons have been created to reflect the design of a car’s grille. “The general space has been designed in collaboration with Izakaya Den and is a way to show Lexus reflecting on its Japanese heritage,” he says.
On the Lexus canapés list are pink roast lamb with crushed broad bean and mint hummus, lemon and pistachio praline; prawn carpaccio with smoked paprika on a toasted rosemary and butter wafer; and walnut, crisp shallot and Szechuan pepper-crusted tuna with lime mayonnaise and cucumber escabèche.
Emirates’ marquee is inspired by a different destination each year, and this year it’s Dublin. Epicure Catering’s head chef of culinary development Tony Cimmino re-created traditional Irish dishes, with a modern twist. “The Irish climate lends itself to heavier dishes. Our menu needed to combine a balance of flavours, colours and textures that were traditionally Irish but suitable for spring,” he says.
The 28 menu items begin with “a trout in the pot” – honey-cured Tasmanian ocean trout in a pear and verjuice jelly; there are minty blarney meatballs – Murray Valley lamb on rosemary skewers with yoghurt and mint sauce; scallops Molly Malone – Hervey Bay scallops with pumpkin purée crisp green apple and watercress and an Irish stew.
Marquee masters: Melbourne chefs (from left) Paul Wilson (Circa), Michael Lambie (The Smith), Luke Brabin (The Botanical) and Darren Purchese (Burch & Purchese) will each create a signature dish with a Tasmanian twist, in a nod James Boag’s origins.
The extravagant menus designed by the star chefs are delivered on the day by VRC-approved catering companies. This year’s list includes Peter Rowland Catering, Rowland Major Events, Epicure Catering, The Big Group, Atlantic Group Catering, Life’s a Party, Libby Reid Catering, Table Matters, Damm Fine Food and Blake’s Feast.
VRC chief executive Dale Monteith says the specially selected caterers work in addition to Peter Rowland Catering, which has the Flemington contract. “The continued success of the Melbourne Cup carnival relies on ensuring that our very high standards are met across all aspects of the event. Food and wine is inextricably linked to the carnival,” he says. Epicure Catering will support the main acts in the Emirates, Swisse, Tabcorp, Sofitel and Spotless marquees, employing more than 300 staff to cater to more than 8000 corporate guests.
Among others, Peter Rowland Catering will support Brahimi in the Crown marquee and Treasury Wine Estate’s 8000 guests in the Birdcage over the course of the Carnival – pouring more than 3000 bottles of sparkling, while The Big Group will work with Lexus and the four starring chefs in the James Boag marquee’s open kitchen, complete with wood-fired pizza oven, dough spinner and herb garden.