‘Let us eat, drink and be merry; for tomorrow we shall die–t.’ – MM
Have you ever tried to cook more than two courses for more than four people? In this day and age it seems that everybody has an interest in food and cooking. There’s kind of an obsessive energy around the stuff we pop into our mouths.
When I was first doing food writing, there wasn’t the intensity, the voyeurism you find today. Food programs almost entirely relied on a static host, a talking head, usually a personality cook the likes of Bernard King or Peter Russell Clarke, with the camera on. They’d predictably cook and chat looking straight down the barrel of a lens. ‘Food just isn’t sexy,’ I was told by an executive producer of a powerful TV production company (at the time Jamie Oliver was a child and Poh from Masterchef was a kid), as I pitched one of the forerunners of today’s foodie-style shows.
The first really interesting demonstration of good food productions came from Maeve O’Meara and Joanna Saville in the Food Lovers’ Guide To Australia and Food Safari that’s still going strong with Maeve at the helm. There’s such an eclectic selection of food programming running simultaneously on television and on the internet that it’s hard not to be influenced from your lounge-room chair.
The point I make here is that whether it’s a voyeuristic sort of interest, or it’s just the challenge of cooking like the chefs, the general public are much more armed with expectation.
I truly feel for the ardent caterers of today. These courageous folk not only have the pressure of creating a memorable meal, but they’re having to also live up to the new and quite tricky foodie ideals placed upon them at times by the foodie gen. In fact, we’re all bombarded with foodie titbits on a daily basis (I’m not one to talk of course!).
There are some exceptional caterers from what I’ve seen in the Byron Shire and surrounding northern rivers and, yes, again we’re the ones spoilt for choice in these gorgeous hills, seascapes and country settings.
Here’s a small selection of some of our local and fabulous caterers with more from them and less from me. It’s a broad brush to take into 2015 and keep as a reference for those coming functions and events you may have earmarked.
Eat and drink-in top-end catering
Having returned to Australia from travelling across Europe and discontent with the thought of resuming as a caterer and stylist to the well-heeled Sydney set, Simon Ruffell, the owner of EatDrink Catering, was given an opportunity to work with a film-catering company in Byron, and jumped at the chance.
‘My time with this company was invaluable, and it showed me the fantastic and developing wedding market that Byron is now renowned for.
‘I realised that with my top-end Sydney background in catering and food styling, and my love of service and all things food, I was well suited to the world of weddings,’ Ruffell explains.
And so a couple of years passed and EatDrink Catering began.
‘We travel far and wide, continually create new dishes, and get to work in some truly stunning venues. Catering really begins with the first chat with the client.
‘Hearing their first thoughts, talking through options, seeing them start to place their trust in me, and a great working relationship starts to grow. Menus are then tailor-made and their catering event or wedding day starts to take shape and develop its own personal style.
‘This is the real beauty with EatDrink Catering – it’s not a carbon-copy menu; it’s designed completely in line with the clients’ style,’ Simon said.
‘Hand-made menus mean regularly researching for new ideas, studying what’s hot in the industry, testing new recipes, and nutting out the logistics for cooking onsite.
‘It’s challenging, stimulating, and a great way to develop and expand the team’s and my skills,’ Simon added.
EatDrink Catering: winner of the 2014 WEOA, Awards for Excellence, Wedding Catering (QLD).
Phone 0411 182 602,
email [email protected],
There are becoming fewer and fewer people who are unaware of this quality foodie establishment. It’s really becoming hard to recommend.
‘Have you tried Harvest,’ I’ll suggest; the reply is getting too familiar: ‘Of course, we love it!’ I admit, we’re spoilt for choice in our area, and some operators the likes of Harvest are offering and delivering the whole ‘bag and dice’.
I’ve grabbed takeaway coffee here, oven-fresh bread from the rustic century-old bakery and on a Saturday morning exquisite pastry to boot.
I’ve partaken of a fabulous and skilled luncheon and I’m doing dinner soon. The Harvest is a cafe, a bakery, a deli and a fine restaurant all sprawling across three lovingly restored buildings in the historic village of Newrybar in the Byron Bay hinterland.
There, I’ve said it again, just in case one or two of my readers haven’t yet heard…
What they’re also very good at is catering – onsite, or in your setting. You can let the Harvest kitchen and events team design a special event at a location that suits – your own home or a private location perhaps. The chefs will work with you to create a menu in true Harvest style using organic produce sourced locally where possible.
Harvest catering is a quality option for larger gatherings from weddings through to corporate events.
‘Whether you’d like to take a hands-on approach to planning, or simply leave the details to the Harvest team, we’ll be there to make sure everything runs smoothly on the day,’ Tristan Grier, from Harvest, said.
You can make an enquiry or download a wedding-and-events package by visiting their website below.
Harvest Catering and Events: Catering descriptor: for events functions and weddings large and small, offsite or onsite.
Harvest: 18–22 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar Village, Byron Bay hinterland.
Open 7 days from 8am for breakfast and lunch.
Dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Wheelchair access / family-friendly (baby chairs and toy box). P
hone 6687 2644, email [email protected],
Bangalow Catering operates from the Bangalow Dining Rooms at the Bangalow Hotel. The restaurant itself is an awarded establishment, having been recognised two years running in the SMH Good Food section.
Jo and husband Adam Thornton (chef) take care of business here and it’s their care and attention to detail that assures a successful function from kitchen to plate whatever the catering need.
‘We’re able to cater for functions whether it’s a casual daytime canapé affair, a cocktail party or a formal wedding at venues from Ballina north to the Gold Coast. Flexible and creative menus are designed around and tailored to the event to suit the client’s individual taste and style.
‘We’re also happy to recommend florists, wedding-cake bakers, decorators, musicians and hire companies that we have successfully worked with in the past,’ Jo said.
‘Our catering service can include canapés or sit-down functions; canapés are all bite- or sip-sized finger food beautifully presented on platters with napkins. Canapés can be served almost anywhere – from a house pool-side, to a paddock. Shared food or tapas, entrees and main menus are professionally cooked and presented, and all of our wonderful dishes have been thoroughly enjoyed in our restaurant too.
‘We also have a cake and wedding-cake service. All menus are based on fresh seasonal ingredients and therefore change regularly. We work with each client individually on a menu that will suit them. We’re committed to serving the best food and to showcase the wonderful produce that the northern rivers is renowned for,’ Jo added.
Bangalow Dining Room catering. Restaurant: Bangalow Dining Room at the Bangalow Hotel, 1 Byron Street, Bangalow.
Lunch: 12–3pm; Dinner: 5.30–9pm; Counter meals: All day from midday.
Phone 6687 1144, email [email protected],
Eight years ago Daniel Von Kritter was in Sri Lanka building wood-fired pizza ovens for retreat centres and permaculture farms.
This clearly had an impact on his current business model and catering style. Daniel came to the northern rivers and started his popular Crusta Woodfired Catering business, providing mobile catering for parties, weddings and other private functions across northern NSW and southern Queensland.
‘We aspire to fuse nutrition with traditional and contemporary trends, using fresh local organic produce where possible.
‘We select this produce from local farmers, creating minimal food miles, assuring quality and taste and living our passion for delicious, sustainable produce,’ Daniel told me.
The cuisine ranges in style from Italian, Mediterranean, and European, to international wood-fired dishes suitable to all discerning tastes. They accommodate any special dietary requirements, and also list a selection of fresh salads, antipasto platters, and home-baked desserts.
Not only specialising in weddings, the mobile catering team cater for just about every occasion – backyard parties, children’s birthdays, 21sts, 40ths, office parties, outdoor picnics, corporate functions, Christmas parties, school fundraisers/events, festivals and more.
Staff are available along with a buffet service with the inclusion of buffet table(s), tablecloths, platters, fresh flowers, etc.
‘We’ll set up before your guests arrive and leave quietly once your guests have finished eating. We can serve food to 30 dinner guests from your driveway, 80 birthday-party guests in your house or backyard, 100 children and adults at a family picnic or casual lunch, or 200 wedding guests,’ Daniel added.
Crusta Woodfired. Events, functions and weddings.
Passionate organic catering
Anthea Amore has been a passionate vegan and gluten-free cook for the past 26 years. Besides cooking, Amore is fast becoming a celebrated author with her popular vegan cookbook Passion – Organic vegan recipes to live for. Along with her husband Caspar Brace, the pair have been catering for more than 12 years in the region (and beyond) for retreats, functions and weddings.
Together they created Byron Bay’s only 100 per cent organic, vegan catering company – Organic Passion Catering – and now they produce delicate and robust catering menus for any event, wedding and retreat, all organic and vegan to boot. ‘Weddings are special. They are at the juncture where love and food meet and mingle.
‘At Organic Passion Catering we’re committed to creating delectable and scrumptious food that has layers of flavour and an uncomplicated underlying nature at the same time,’ Anthea told me. ‘We always use fresh organic produce and ingredients. It’s this base that helps us create menus that just ooze life force. This sort of quality organic produce doesn’t need much doing to it to really dazzle taste buds,’ she added.
‘Retreats are where we see sacred work and play happen. We love creating healthy food offerings that help the retreat program unfold with loving vibrations that nourish the souls and bellies of all the participants.’
Organic Passion Catering. Catering for retreats, functions and weddings.
Phone 6684 4559 or 0422 383 151, email [email protected],
Facebook: Organic Passion Catering.
Citrus offers all catering services; from finger food to banquets. Menu includes luscious dessert listings and savoury dishes from the Orient, the Mediterranean, Modern Australia and the Middle East, or choose your favourite cuisine.
The Northern Rivers really lend themselves to outdoor eating and Citrus have food hampers to share with friends, sitting under a tree or at home on the veranda. Everything’s provided, right down to the picnic blanket. These are also available to send as gifts or welcome hampers.
‘We provide quality food services for all events, big and small with produce and ingredients locally sourced wherever possible.
From these great products we create food magic with love and creativity’ Kate Bott, the principal and owner of Citrus Catering, said.
Citrus Concierge & Catering has now added the latest in gourmet barbeques – the ‘BarbieSkew’ – a charcoal fired rotating grill. Originating in South America, ‘BarbieSkew’ is purpose built and can cater for five or 5,000 people. Slow cooked pork, lamb, chicken, beef, whole fish, and vegetables, for festivals, weddings, corporate functions or a special occasion at home.
Locations and menus planned according to each occasion and a full staff provided. ‘Or the client can take the reins and enjoy the ease of the BarbieSkew if preferred’ ‘Drop off and pick-up is also a part of Citrus Concierge & Catering service. The concierge service not only delivers the food to you, we also shop for your food supplies when you have friends arrive or gatherings of family.
‘Let us take the pressure off and have it all there waiting for you to eat, kick back and have a glass of chilled champagne’. Kate said
Citrus Catering and Concierge Service. Catering descriptor: hampers, festive fare, functions and weddings, pick-up or delivery service.
Phone 6680 7040 or 0406 746 569, email [email protected],
Where would caterers be without chocolate; where would our private lives be without chocolate? Chocolate is the closest thing you’ll get to an emotional food. Dopamine – and good times are assured.
Alison Campbell, the mastermind behind the brand-new Love Byron Bay Chocolate, has joined forces with Ed Ahern, the owner of Byron Spar, to create a very sexy chocolate brand and shop.
This store is about to spin you on your heels and change the parameters of chocolate eating perhaps forever. Beer and wine matching with chocolates? Yes, all this and more; Australian native bush-tucker chocolates, cheese and chocolate pairing – forget the crackers, has Alison gone crackers?
No, here you’ll find well known wine brands the likes of Brown Brothers, Tyrrell’s, De Bortoli, wine-infused chocolates sitting alongside New Zealand regional wine chocolates.
Apart from these very different uses of the cacao bean, if you’re doing a dinner party or a wedding, small gift boxes are ready to place your selected chocolates in. Those visiting relatives could benefit from a petit fours à la chocolate, or the surprise spoiling of a personal box on the pillow.
You can hand pick singles, or select in quantities for catering and functions. Gifts of freshly dipped fruits, pralines, truffles… or have an onsite hot chocolate made on a unique Belgian couverture choc, white or dark – lick it off the spoon and you don’t need to be gorgeous or rich because the chocolates already are. Chocolate, to me, is the closest thing to love and certainly lends a loving touch to any affair.
Love Byron Bay Chocolate.
10am–6pm, Sunday–Thursday; Friday, Saturday – 10am–8pm. Next to the Spar grocer – enter Lawson Street (cnr Jonson at roundabout).
Phone 6685 7974, email [email protected],
Catering by Sharon is located in the rolling hills of Lismore and has been providing uncomplicated yet skilled catering solutions for the past eight years.
Sharon Wallwork, the owner and chef, has been a resident of the northern rivers for more than 20 years and knows her stuff along with the lay of the land, venues, food and the blending of the two.
‘I’ve been a chef forever – I’m not just a cook – so you’re in good hands. It’s nice to know that the person organising your food for an event actually knows what they’re doing – it helps,’ Sharon said.
The menus are designed using fresh quality local produce with unique, exciting flavours and skilful presentation. Catering for birthdays, weddings, engagements, christenings, housewarmings, baby showers, farewells, wakes – any occasion.
‘We have put together a comprehensive listing of food and choices whether an occasion requires canapés, fork food, a formal sit-down meal, a table banquet feast or just individual dishes to complement the event. We’ll help to personalise a unique menu that best reflects your individual taste, style, budget and dietary requirements.
‘My dedicated team provide an innovative delivery of fabulous foods and exceptional service. We look forward to offering any event an unforgettable catering experience that will leave guests raving about the food, ’ Sharon added.
Catering by Sharon. Catering descriptor: for retreats, functions, weddings, any event.
Phone 6629 8200, email [email protected],