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What Would They Know? Sonya Robson of food&desire

by | Food & Catering Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Imagine a dedicated professional team catering impeccable food and wine, served with flair, with a choice of around fifty venues at your disposal. Imagine your wedding styled to the highest standard – bringing together all the elements you’ve ever dreamed about, to your wedding day. This is the ethos of the team behind food&desire caterers who are passionate about all things weddings and events. Sonya is the Event Sales & Marketing Manager of food&desire and tells us the story of this amazing business. Prepare to be inspired!

How long has food&desire been operating?

Food&desire is now in its 15th year of business, has grown from three full time staff to today’s thirty three wonderful team members. Our team is constructed from true hospitality professionals who are dedicated and passionate about professional service and have the experience and knowledge surrounding food.  Truly a team of passionate foodies who love creating memorable events and ensuring it’s a fun journey in the process.

What was the catalyst for starting this business?

Directors Leigh Worcester and Asaf Smoli recognised, in 2000, that the Melbourne catering and events scene needed a premium catering and kosher catering service. Their vision was to bring fine dining food and service into the events arena, ‘wedding food’ was an abhorrent idea to them and they could not see why on the most important of occasions food should be standardised. So they upped the anti bringing fine dining to anywhere you please and then also made it accessible for everyone with their established waterfront venues. Food&desire continues to be at the forefront of Melbourne’s wedding scene.

Please describe the 5 venues you are associated with. 

Aerial, South Wharf, Melbourne is food&desire’s newest venue, opened in November 2014, city views based riverside in South Wharf, seating up to 468 guests with dance floor.

Carousel, Albert Park Lake, iconic waterfront venue, lakeside and remarkable skyline views.

State Library Victoria, Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD, iconic venue featuring some of the most beautiful architecture, hosts seven event spaces, and the Dome in La Trobe reading room.

Harbour Room, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, St Kilda beach, rooftop and bayside views.

Other Melbourne venues such as Richmond Rowing Club, Pavilion, warehouses, galleries, park lands, marquees, locations from Portsea to Lorne or just at your private home.

However, if a bridal couple chooses another venue, are you able to provide your services to them?

Depending on the venue, and the venue’s catering policy, food&desire can cater in around fifty other venues and event spaces in Melbourne.

Do you offer a full service to couples from food to flowers and decor, to marquees/venues, function staff (and even a wedding co-ordinator)?

Absolutely. food&desire can arrange your COMPLETE event from beginning to end and all things between. Along with your wedding co ordinator and our friends at Where the Grass is Green, our teams can style, interior design, event manage, and cater at your venue of choice, for the full list please visit  . Food&desire will assist and support all your wedding details to make your wedding very special and of course…memorable. Food&desire understands bringing people together, creating great hosts, and celebrations!

How can couples tailor a package to suit their budget?

Prices range for wedding from $135-225+ per person.

Do you have any tips for brides to consider when booking a caterer? What are the advantages in having your wedding catered?

Personal service is the key, finding a caterer with great food knowledge and delivering exceptional product that will keep your family and friends talking about your wedding, they remember the food! You will need a caterer like food&desire who can deliver flexible and tailored menu plan, through to wine matching, cocktail creations, visual presentation to food styling, and of course serve your guests in a timely manner. I also believe planning your wedding is a journey of undertaking timeline tasks so be comfortable with the people advising you and knowing you are in the best hands, then you can trust in the process and sit back and enjoy your wedding planning.

Look for caterers leading food trends and taking food experiences to the guest, food is the best entertainment –  having open kitchens with chefs on display, theatrical food etc.. Look for true scope on food style they offer, flexible menu choices, variety of product available, very high standard of skilled chefs, and quality food handling and presentation. A truly great caterer has the ability to serve private dinners for 50 people and then to 500 people and quality should not be compromised.

Look for culinary experience and the ability to create multi cultural food styles, fusing together different food cultures while ensuring tradition is upheld. In summary personal service, guidance and expertise in food, and then being able to pull it off and making it look easy!

Do you offer flexibility in your menus to each couples’ requirements?

Creating customised menus is our forte, although we do have brilliant menus to select from, so many of our clients have specific catering briefs, food passions and personal preferences, at food&desire we are always creating, changing, developing menus to suit couples, their friends and family. Designing menus can be half the fun! And the food&desire team help with this too.

Can you provide a tasting to help couples make their decision?

Absolutely, food&desire offers two varieties of menu tastings for our couples. There is an additional charge but clients love them and always tell us they are definitely worth it!

Are you able to accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and food sensitivity requirements?

Our menus are vast and we can accommodate all mentioned dietary requirements. Yvan Meunier (now his tenth year with the business) creates menus for every couple and their guests’ dietary needs. Food&desire specialises in Kosher catering and has their own state of the art commercial and kosher kitchen in Kensington. No matter what the food sensitivity or dietary requirement food&desire will always accommodate each individual request.

When designing a menu, what should the bride and groom consider?

– Food style or cuisine

– Variety

– Balanced menu

– What do they want to eat on the night, their ‘first meal as husband and wife’

– Guests requirements

– Duration of wedding; supper, extra canapés, dessert either player or food station, even roaming style dessert

– Whether they want food as the feature, to be entertained by food (have a element of theatrics), or sit down and plated.

 Do you offer a food and wine matching service to brides and grooms?

Absolutely! Menu tasting is the chance for brides and grooms experience food and wine matching. All our menus have sommelier selected matched wines.

What are your favourite wedding food ideas for the coming year?

Stand up roaming entrees on balconies and rooftop spaces, taking in the venues or outside spaces much more

Shared food; tapas style with more food courses of smaller portions or banquet style dishes in the middle of the table, lots more variety with people helping themselves and sharing the food experience like you would at your dinner table (less of the per person plated dish, (or 50/50 option). Couples and family members enjoying more menu flexibility, and guests just loving choice on the night. We see more interaction with food as a coming trend.

Interactive food stations with chefs on display, chefs demonstrating their abilities, coming out from behind the scenes to being involved in your wedding, this can be a big wow! factor for real foodies.

– A definite modern Asian theme is emerging, as is an extension of tapas style dining with twist.


What are your favourite things to do in Melbourne when you’re not working?

– I just LOVE Melbourne! Love;

– Going to the beach with the kids (Half Moon Bay in Sandringham) with fish ‘n chips on the beach for dinner.

– Eating at Movida on date night with my partner (beef cheek on cauliflower purée is just insane!!)

– Visiting Melbourne’s food & farmers markets, my favourites South Melbourne and Collingwood Farmers Market, produce so fresh and fabulous!

– Sitting in a cafe (my favourite Fordham’s Milk Bar, Camberwell) slipping on a latte, watching my kids play or reading a magazine.

– Going out with the girls for movie night followed by cocktails and tapas in some of Melbourne’s awesome bars, my favourite Bomba ( Spanish tapas bar).

– And of course…shopping!!!!

Thank you Sonya for sharing food&desire’s story with us. To find out more about food&desire visit the website.

Images courtesy of food&desire.

What Would They Know? Rachel Uys of Lavande Designs

by | Flower Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

With a love of all things flowers, it follows that Rachel of Lavande Designs is also aware of creating an impression of style and beauty with her work. Flower arrangements crafted with respect and care are her signature touch – they bring together the colour scheme, add softness and a celebratory atmosphere, and above all, make people happy. Add to that Rachel’s hire service of crystal candelabras, unique lanterns and vases and your wedding will sparkle with your dream vision.

How long have you been in the business and where did you train?

It’s been 10 years this coming September since I set foot into the New York Flower School. I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to start my career there, sitting amongst other students who have since gone on to achieve great success. From completing a master class series there, I began to intern at a design studio in New York before working my way up to Senior Designer roles. Upon return to Sydney, Lavande Designs was established and it continues to flourish!

Image by Liv Style Photography

Do you have any mentors whose expertise you call on?

I keep in touch with many people I worked with in New York. I follow a lot of designers I worked for and admired on social media so I feel I am mentored daily, inspired by their work and all the design projects they are undertaking.

How did your training in New York influence the floral designs you do today?

In New York and how I was trained in particular, the design aesthetic has a focus on an abundance of blooms. That’s how I tend to still design. I use beautiful colour palettes which may be mixed or monochromatic and a classic style of design.

Image by Blumenthal Photography

Do you have favourite flowers that you use time and again?

Of course…. sweet pea, peonies, hellebore, snowball viburnum, ranunculus, water lilies, large vanda and phalaenopsis orchids to name just a few!

Do you love putting together unusual combinations of colour and/or texture, or unusual elements in your floral arrangements?

Absolutely. Colour is everything! Getting the colour palette balanced is the key to designing a striking bouquet or arrangement. Beautiful berries, herbs, figs and lotus pods are just a few textural elements I love to use in designs to add interest. Those alone can change a design instantly.

What role do herbs and greenery play in your arrangements? 

Foliage and herbs can absolutely play a starring role in an arrangement. A composition of all green toned flowers and foliage can be stunning and surprising. I love to include plants such as maiden hair ferns and pots of rosemary on tables amongst vases of flowers.


Image by Blumenthal Photography

Which flowers are most often requested by brides?

Peonies and David Austin roses are always a bridal favourite… I’m not sure if that will ever change! If I had to name one, I would say peonies.

What flowers would you like to use more of in weddings?

I love it when brides suggest a colour palette for their wedding flowers and don’t limit themselves by having their mind set on a certain flower type. More often than not, the result exceeds their initial expectation. Large, graphic blooms such as water lilies, lotus flowers and vanda orchids instantly tell guests this wedding is something special.

Do you prefer to work with seasonal blooms?

Of course, I think that’s what makes working with flowers so special is that we all look forward to the sweet pea, jonquils, blooming branches and ranunculas creeping into the market, as it’s a sign of spring!

Image by Studio Something

And what about Australian indigenous flowers?

I’m finding that brides enjoy the texture and the ability to create an unusual combination of flowers by incorporating native flowers into a design. At the moment you just can’t go past the sea of pink, ruby and coral flowering gum at the market.

You offer a styling service for weddings. Can you offer us some simple styling tips for maximum impact?

Think about the vase you use for your wedding flowers. Take an arrangement to the next level by having it designed in something different other than clear glass. Wooden vessels, antique mercury glass or glass lined are some of my favourites. Finish a table setting off by placing a single bloom on each napkin for the final touch and you can never have enough candlelight!

Are there any ‘styling rules’ – for example, does the styling have to match the style of the venue?

I think using your discretion about the style you use at a venue is key. Some venues are blank canvases which can handle any style of design while others have a very particular look. Traditionally these places call for styling which compliments the space and can look stunning but if it feels right to mix it up without going over board, than do it. Set your own rules!

Can you describe a day in your life?

I’m a quick riser. I’m not one to hit the snooze button. Once the alarm goes off at 4.15am, I can be in the van and at the flower markets before 5am when it opens. The markets are vibrant, and you have to be ready to hustle! I often take a quick walk through and make a visual note of what particular elements look best with which grower, then go back and buy. I fill the van and it’s back to the studio to get to work….. but not before a takeaway coffee from my go-to cafe in Neutral Bay. With two kids, it’s always a juggle to make sure lunches are made, school drop offs are complete and then it’s time to design flowers, plan upcoming meetings with brides and chat to clients. My clients tend to have fabulous ideas which we just build on, so the collaborative creativity process is very rewarding.

Image by Gemma Clarke Photography

I would give the gift of ..biltong to my husband… he has deep South African roots!

My favourite romantic restaurant is:

Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach. A casual dinner even in winter time followed by an after dinner stroll along the beach. Perfect!

Thank you Rachel for sharing your story. To find out more about Lavande Designs visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Rachel of Lavande Designs.

How To Pull Off An Amazing Sunset Wedding Ceremony

by | Ceremony Wisdom, Wisdom


Brisbane City Celebrants, Brisbane City Celebrants

Ever wondered why the vast majority of wedding ceremonies here in Australia take place at around 3pm? The primary reason for this traditional ceremony time is to allow the photographer 1-2 hours of beautiful golden light to take advantage of for the couples post wedding photo shoot, before the bride and groom make their way to rejoin the guests at the reception. Well here’s some food for thought.

With the wedding ceremony being the most special and significant part of the day, what if it was also the most jaw droppingly beautiful with everyone present getting to share in that stunning sunset as the bride and groom share their heartfelt vows and first kiss as husband and wife to the dramatic and romantic backdrop of a brightly lit up sky and golden light in a truly beautiful sunset ceremony.

Sunset wedding with Brisbane Celebrant Ciara Hodge. Image by Leah Cruikshank Photography

Of course pulling off an amazing sunset wedding ceremony would require some tweaking to the traditional wedding day schedule, so here’s some tips we’ve put together on planning the perfect sunset ceremony.

Firstly, your professional wedding photographer will no doubt still love the opportunity to shoot you as a couple in daylight. A great way to do this is as a ‘First Look’ or ‘Reveal’ shoot, a couple of hours before the ceremony takes place. This is when the photographer captures the grooms reaction usually at a more private location when he sees his beautiful bride for the very first time, without the nerves that often come with having all your nearest and dearest present.

Not only does a first look shoot mean that you get to include this extra special element in your day, and have a stunningly romantic sunset ceremony, it also means that once the ceremony has concluded you get to stay and immediately celebrate with your guests instead of being whisked away from them.

Sunset wedding with Brisbane Celebrant Ciara Hodge. Image by Leah Cruikshank Photography

The guests will love it too not only for being the most beautiful ceremony they have probably ever witnessed, but a late afternoon wedding will also be a cooler more shaded time of day which is a huge plus for outdoor weddings. Best of all, the guests will love getting to celebrate and party with you right away and will really appreciate not having to endure the typical ‘waiting around’ time for the reception to commence.

The sunset ceremony schedule also takes away the pressure of having to organise entertainment and additional refreshments to keep the guests occupied in between the ceremony and reception.



As the sun sets, this is also an opportunity for the photographer to showcase their night time photography skills and creative lighting techniques with sparklers and candles.

Some considerations when having a sunset ceremony, include:

  • Choose an open ceremony location that is easily accessible and will embrace the sunset;
  • Consider where you will stand to get the best effect from the sunset and without the sun glaring in your or your guests eyes;
  • As it will get dark fairly quickly once the sun has set, consider assigning ushers or groomsmen to assist in promptly directing the guests on to the reception area for refreshments, a nearby reception venue is ideal;
  • Consider adding ambient lighting as ceremony décor, like strings of light bulbs, candles or a sparkling chandelier over the ceremony to work with the romance of the sunset.

Happy wedding planning!

Ciara Hodge and Jamie Eastgate Brisbane City Celebrants.

Sunset wedding with Brisbane Celebrant Ciara Hodge. Image by Leah Cruikshank Photography

Images by Leah Cruikshank Photography

Marriage Celebrant: Brisbane City Celebrants Ciara Hodge | Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venue: Spicers Hidden Vale

Ms Gingham says: Consider this time of day for your ceremony definitely in the summer time and especially in more rural locations where the elements can be much harsher.

Ciara Hodge & Jamie Eastgate of Brisbane City CelebrantsWe are a modern, passionate and enthusiastic team of Brisbane Wedding Celebrants. We love nothing more than seeing our brides and grooms so happy and relaxed throughout their wedding ceremony.

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